Political debates: Still waiting for a real one

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While I applaud the RNC and major news networks for holding numerous debates among the countless Republican candidates, I am still waiting for an actual debate. We have yet to see much more than a series of specially crafted questions designed to make candidates respond to either quotes they have made or that have been made about them. It’s no wonder these so called debates have regressed into something more likely to be found on a fake wrestling show than an actual program designed to inform and educate the voting public.

While it is easy to point the blame at Donald Trump, this is really the fault of networks like CNN and Fox News who have fallen in love with the chaos that ensues with each debate. Perhaps had the very first debate which was viewed by over 20 million people actually been a real debate, we might not see Donald Trump at the head of the pack and maybe a more level-headed person like John Kasich or even Jeb Bush might be fighting it out as Super Tuesday approaches.

Rather than asking questions in which the questioner relies on “you said this about that or he said this about you,” the American public would have been better served with a much stricter format that is more reflective of a true debate.

All candidates need to be made to answer the same questions and not be allowed to refer to any of their opponents. It’s as simple as that. The problem is, if they were, there would not be any debates. Candidates want to use their time to attack their opponents and not answer something they may later be held accountable on.

What Wolf Blitzer wanted to say when the debate got out of hand: “Will you three clowns STFU and follow the rules?”
What Wolf Blitzer wanted to say when the debate got out of hand: “Will you three clowns STFU and follow the rules?”

In a previous article, I listed 20 questions I believe all candidates should answer. While they may need a few tweaks here and there, I still believe these questions are far more pertinent than what has been asked up to now.

  1. Given our current supplies of oil at home and with greater investment being made into solar and wind power, what do we stand to gain by continuing to fight a costly war in the Middle East?
  2. Explain to the American people why you believe the minimum wage should or should not be raised to $15.00 an hour to reflect a “living wage.”
  3. Which of the following do you feel is the greatest concern to our country and which is the least important: the economy, terrorism, China, Russia, or education?
  4. Which specific policies will you implement to improve the opportunities for those who live in poverty that will also ween them from their dependence on government assistance?
  5. What plan do you have that will provide better medical care for our veterans and does that plan include breaking up the VA and offering our vets other sources for their medical care?
  6. Explain what areas in our government have the greatest amount of waste and which one are in need of greater funding.
  7. Do you see Vladimir Putin as a threat to European security and should the United States increase its involvement in the Ukraine or should we remove ourselves all together and let the EU handle it?
  8. What kind of terrorism poses the greatest risk to Americans: the spread of ISIS, al-Qaeda’s desire to strike the U.S. again, or home grown groups?
  9. Is it time for the federal government to step in and fund public works projects such as fresh water pipelines, canals, and the construction of more fresh water storage facilities to help ease the drought stricken west or do you believe these states are on their own to solve this problem?
  10. Alcohol and tobacco kill far more Americans every year than does marijuana and yet they are legal in all 50 states. Do you support the legalization of marijuana and if not, shouldn’t we then criminalize alcohol and tobacco?
  11. For the last 30 years or more, the focus in education has been to get as many American students prepared for college as possible. However, during this time, the cost of a college education has sky rocketed and is now far less affordable than it was in the 1980s. How will you make college more affordable to our high school graduates and is it time to consider using our high schools to better prepare students for alternatives to a college education?
  12. John Kasich would like to get a word in edgewise.
    John Kasich would like to get a word in edgewise.

    China has almost a billion more people than the United States, giving them a built in source of cheap labor, and far less restrictive environmental regulations. With this in mind, how can the United States keep up with China economically?

  13. The American public has grown tired of the political gridlock in Washington D.C. What specific policy proposals do you feel confident can be supported by both political parties and what will you do differently to promote greater bipartisanship?
  14. Given the many tensions and problems that exist throughout the world, can you tell the American people what are the greatest international concerns we face and how do you intend to address them?
  15. Millennials have grown up in a post 9/11 world in which many have seen their parents lose their jobs, houses, and savings while we have fought one war after another. What can you tell millennials that will restore their faith in our government being able to meet their needs?
  16. Almost half of every tax dollar ends up being spent on some form of the military. How can we lower this amount and still maintain the strongest military in the world while freeing up more tax dollars for underfunded programs?
  17. There seems to be greater racial tension in our nation today than at any time since the civil rights movement. What do you see as its major root causes and how do you intend to correct this?
  18. There seem to be a number of world leaders who do not have a good relationship with our current president. How has this impacted our country and how will you go about repairing those relationships?
  19. Other than tightening up our border, what should the United States be doing to stem the flow of illegal immigration? Should we be more concerned about the level of violence and poverty in Mexico than we are with what is going on in other parts of the world?
  20. The American Dream is no longer what it once was. How do you intend to restore it so Americans of all races, genders, religions, and economic backgrounds can once again believe it is attainable?

It is a cop out when a candidate skims over a policy answer by simply telling the viewer to go to their web site and read their policy proposal. This only tells me he/she is either too lazy to answer the question or does not know their own policy since it was most likely written by someone they do not even know.

Requiring all candidates to answer the same questions also allows fringe candidates equal time, something the networks have failed miserably to do.

When Ben Carson jokes about wanting someone to attack him in a debate it is simply because he knows he is not getting equal time. When Donald Trump wonders why all the questions are going to him it not only tells me he knows he is receiving more attention than the others, it also tells me he probably is not comfortable answering a question that requires him to do more than attack an opponent or make a vague response that tells us nothing.

Will someone please attack Ben Carson?
Will someone please attack Ben Carson?

As a result of this nonsense, the GOP is going to have to hitch its wagon to someone, most likely Trump, who will say the outrageous while really offering the nation little insight as to what he wants to accomplish. This is a shame because I really believe what the party of Reagan really needs is a candidate who is a true representation of the person he was and not some carnival clown.

Reagan was not loud or bombastic, he was not dead set against compromise, and he was not one to sling mud back and forth at his party opponents.

Like Reagan, John Kasich has refused to lower himself just to gain attention. While he may not be the public speaker Reagan was, he certainly offers the GOP someone with a tremendous skill set and willingness to work with others to get things accomplished that is more reflective of Reagan than anything Trump, Cruz, or Rubio can claim.

Unfortunately, we are a nation who has the attention span of a gnat and we prefer the absurd over the sane. We think whoever is president is entirely capable of solving all our problems only because we fail to value understanding how our government is set up and how it is suppose to work. In fact, I really believe more Americans would prefer to see our president have dictatorial or King-like powers just so we can point the finger of blame at one person.

Sorry, but not only is politics not this simple, life itself isn’t either. However, until we as individuals decide to gain a greater understanding of how our government works, we can expect to see what is taking place with the GOP to continue in another four years.

It may well be the next time around it will be Democrats who are providing us with a political freak show, but mark my words, what we have seen unfold from these GOP debates will become the new normal in American politics until the voting public gets their collective heads out of the back sides and demand better than what the debate process has provided.

 Top photo: Senator Marco Rubio, Real Estate Tycoon Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.
All photos are YouTube screen grabs.