Republican debates promise to be messy affairs, with more than two dozen candidates spilling out to the margins of the frame. But this is fitting, and it should make Republicans proud.

Republicans have 14 candidates of all stripes — male and female; black, white, Indian, Hispanic; governors, CEOs, senators; from the Northeast, the South, the middle and the West; Tea Partiers, establishment types and dedicated moderates, a bachelor, some proud family men and a mom.

Democrats, meanwhile, seem to have only one serious contender — she was the second-place finisher last time, and she's the wife of a former president.

It all makes perfect sense. One side in America's political debate today values competition and pluralism. Another side believes in top-down centralized decision-making and pursues conformity of opinion.

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