After the second Republican debate on CNN the dynamics of the race for the nomination of the GOP are beginning to take shape. Initially it might have seemed that the race would have been an ideological and populist rant against the old GOP establishment, whose voters are tired of the inability to produce anything regardless of their virtually undisputed rule. This populism, as it normally does, would produce a race deluded form reality and devoid of facts. But after the debate conservative voters can remain hopeful, since it became clear that the there are other options besides Bush and Trump because candidates such as Rubio, Fiorina, or Christie showed that one can critique one’s own party and the opposition with more grounded and supported opinions.
In the last 7 years the Republican Party has won practically every important election besides the presidency, including 31 governors and both chambers of congress; despite this they have been unable to make any progress on the issues that they so ardently talk about. This has created a feeling of contempt against the old establishment. Consequently the current candidates all run on campaigns with stressed importance on action, rather than talk (Donald Trump: “Make America great again”, Bobby Jindal: “I am a doer, not a talker”). All these proclamations led to the rejection of evidence and specific policy plans for the objectives that the candidates promise. Even though most campaigns in the democratic world always run on similar ideas, the extent to which it could be seen in Wednesday’s debate was extreme to the point of comical.
Candidates promised building a 3000km wall ignoring the plausibility and cost of it; ignoring that most of the illegal immigration to the U.S. do not directly cross the border, but overstay once they are temporarily allowed in. Every single candidate promised to defund Planned Parenthood based on evidence that proved that the program’s goals were to sell baby parts for profit and to abort more babies. Even though there is no conclusive evidence that the program does the former, an opposition to such actions and against abortion is a completely legitimate opinion, but the candidates ignored the fact that most of its funding goes towards STD tests, breast cancer screenings, and other women’s health services. And as we saw in the debate they were willing to shut down the federal government over it.
When Donald Trump was asked about what he would do about the current situation in Syria he said: “let them fight each other and pick up the remnants”. It was disappointing to see Governor John Kasich provide more reasonable solutions, arguing for bipartisanship, or Senator Rand Paul remarking how “the war on drugs has had a racial outcome […] and has damaged out inner cities” and barely get any support form the audience. The debate was almost entirely dedicated to issues for which the candidates could provide shallow and unsupported answers. Other crucial problems for the country, such as student debt, income inequality, and racism where completely ignored.
Fortunately, there was a silver lining to the debate: the solid performance of fringe candidates, which demonstrated the possibility to vote away from Trump or Jeb Bush. Chris Christie (Governor or New Jersey), Marco Rubio (Senator for Florida), and Carly Fiorina (Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard) presented relatable, detailed, and more reasonable answers and comments. Some of the most remarkable interventions of the night were Christie’s “You know who’s not successful? The middle class of this country” appealing to the real problems America was facing, or Rubio’s “We don’t authorize force if you’re not putting troops in position to win” adding some sense into American intervention throughout the world, or Fiorina’s “American women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said”. The rise of other candidates to become front runners against Trump will be beneficial to the party in that it will push Jeb Bush to become more assertive and express more character, as he did in the debate. The establishment, who will forever be opposed to Trump, will pursue any option against him, and the more competition the better the winner will be.
It will be long until the Republican national convention in Cleveland in July, but after the second debate, with the arrival of other candidates, one can hope that the race will tend less to populist argument and will become more centered on evidence. This might result in the successful reformation that the Republican Party has needed in the past few years. The job will not be easy, since the candidates praised in this piece also twisted the truth in several occasions, such as Fiorina’s passionate comment on Planned Parenthood. Overall though, the rising popularity of other candidates besides Trump and Bush will improve the ultimate decision of the Republicans of who to endorse in the 2016 election.