If last week’s Republican presidential candidate debates demonstrated anything to America, it’s that it needs much work to do.
The debate was viewed by more than 20 million people around the world, making it one of the highest-rated political debates in recent memory. That can be attributed to leading candidate and real-estate tycoon Donald Trump.
But instead of substance, all we really watched was entertainment … a political reality show, if you will. If we learned anything from the debate, it’s that the presidential candidates are more than willing — even giddy, at times — to take swipes at each other when given the opportunity.
That probably had more to do with the debate rules, which allowed anyone who was mentioned by a rival to offer a rebuttal. That, in turn, led to a swipe at a third candidate, producing a chain of rebuttals and interruptions that steered the debate away from the issues and more toward personal attacks against fellow Republicans.
When the candidates did speak about policy issues, the same themes kept recurring: Republicans hate Planned Parenthood and the Iran nuclear deal, Obama is a terrible president, and no one adores ISIS.
Unfortunately, many voters don’t tune in to the debates to hear real discussions of the issues. They want to see a fight — and they pretty much got it.
Confrontations between Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Trump vs. former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and the entire candidate field vs. Trump was the standard of the evening.When the candidates weren’t confronting each other, they were busy telling the American people how great they were leading a state (Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie), how they were the only ones on stage to do that great thing (Kasich, Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker), and in some instances, how much money they have made (Trump) during their careers.
This is where CNN, unfortunately, delved into the reality TV business. It’s not where a news organization belongs.
Now that Walker has been kicked off the island, so to speak, due to a lack of substantive support, it’s time to whittle the field down even more. Telling Trump, “You’re fired!” would be a good start.
Let’s hope future debates, both Republican and Democrat, don’t devolve even further into more personal attacks and sideswipes. It’s time for the candidates to focus on the issues and present clear, substantive plans to the American people.
No more reality TV. It’s time for real solutions.
— Michael Johnson
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