Has anyone else noticed all the hypothetical bodies piling up next Ron Paul’s podium? What about the real ones in the Texas prison system? Well, the crowds at the endless series of GOP debates have, and they seem to approve.

They cheered loudly on September 8th when Brian mentioned that Rick Perry oversaw 234 executions. They loved it at the next debate when Ron Paul said a dying man without health insurance should have to face the consequences of his choice.

One member of the audience even shouted “Yeah!” before Paul even answered.

So is this mob mentality or just good ol’ conservative values?

I’m definitely impressed by how ideologically pure the GOP base is. Unlike the conservatives of the past, (see Romneycare) they’re so committed to shrinking government and the prison population that they’re willing to let people die.

I’m also impressed by the number of people who disagree with candidates who take such positions but admire them for “sticking to their guns.”

The debates over health care and the death penalty are incredibly similar. They’re polarizing, liberal vs. conservative, life vs. death debates that disproportionately affect those too poor to afford health insurance or a good lawyer.

They also need to be had in Texas more so than anywhere else, where Republicans who control every level of state government are not interested in having them. Texas leads the nation in both its annual number of executions and its percentage of uninsured people; two statistics that Governor Perry isn’t exactly ashamed of.

There are things these crowds don’t like. For example, gay soldiers. The crowd at the September 22nd debate booed one who (luckily) was on the other end of a webcam when asking Rick Santorum a question.

So when someone dies from a toothache and a lack of health insurance, it’s a good thing. But when a soldier wants to reenlist in a military that discriminates against him to protect a country that does the same, it’s deplorable.

That’s what happens when everyone in a room full of a couple hundred conservatives wants to be the most conservative. Someone may win (like that guy who shouted “Yeah!” from earlier), but anyone who can’t afford health insurance will lose.

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