GOP: The "Right to Death Party"?

Republican candidates during the CNN debate, Sept. 12, 2011

This month's two Republican presidential debates averaged more than four million television viewers, including our contributor Nancy Giles:

I've watched the two Republican Party debates, and something weird is going on in the audience.

When moderator Brian Williams said to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, "Your state has executed 234 Death Row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times," the audience APPLAUDED.

Applause at the number of people executed in Texas?

When Ron Paul was asked by Wolf Blitzer about health insurance, and how an uninsured man who had a medical emergency should be treated, the Texas Congressman said:

"That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks."

The audience cheered.

Paul continued: "This whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody ..."

"Are you saying that society should just let him die?" Blitzer asked.

There were cheers from the audience of "Yeah!"

How about these guys - applauding even before Ron Paul answered the question!

Now, I haven't been to church in years, but I seem to remember the question of "Am I my brother's keeper?"

And something about "Thou shall not kill."

So how is it that NOT ONE single candidate - some of whom claim their spirituality has been a guiding force in their politics - how could they not challenge the applause, and maybe suggest that their invited audience take a step back from the bloodlust?

I totally take it for granted that one of the founding principles of the United States is freedom to express an opinion. But having said that, regardless of party affiliation, I can't imagine APPLAUDING at the idea of death - either mandated by lethal injection, or from lack of medical insurance.

As we've all heard, there have been numerous instances where inmates on Death Row have been ultimately proven innocent. In Governor Perry's own state, 12 Death Row inmates had been exonerated since 1973. Could they have missed more?

You probably have heard that just this past week the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review the case of a Texas Death Row inmate because, during his sentencing hearing, a psychologist testified that blacks are more likely to commit violence.

And between the "Let the uninsured die" crowd and presidential wannabee (and physician!) Ron Paul - excuse me, doctor, but I'm not feeling a lot of that "First do no harm" jazz - I can picture their comforting bedside manner.

"Cancer? Tough luck. Get out of bed and come back for chemo when you can afford it."

In any case, we're gearing up for another presidential campaign. The ideological lines have been drawn. There are red states and blue states, but there are a lot of other colors to this country.

Frankly I'm still wondering what the clearance process was for the audience in these debates. I just can't believe they represent the entire Republican Party.

I sure hope some of those other folks can get seats to the next debate - and at the G.O.P.'s table - And let THEIR voices be heard.