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The GOP Debates Have Reached Peak Pointlessness

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 4, 2016 9:28PM

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich meet ahead of the March 3rd GOP debate in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
The 11th GOP debate in Detroit did little to showcase the differences between the four white male Republican candidates, and if anything highlighted their similarities. And while the remaining contenders for GOP presidential nominee might each say that they’re doing their supposed best to lay out why each is better suited to serve the American people as President, their strategies are steeped in making low-brow jabs. It's enough to make us conclude that the GOP debates have reached peak pointlessness.

Second and third place contenders Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio took turns shouting at or in tandem with lead carnival-barker Donald Trump, while Ohio Governor John Kasich sat in a proverbial corner off to the side, like the uncle at a holiday dinner staring into his beer, looking up once and awhile to tell the children to stop throwing food at each other.

One has to wonder whether the candidates will begin throwing chairs at the the coming debates in Miami and Salt Lake City.

No matter how hard he tries, Trump's sputtering and dismal dismissals, through his various "disavowals" of David Duke and the Klu Klux Klan, fall flat. Not surprisingly, they never include rebukes or denials of the white supremacists that tailgate his campaign or the racism and bigotry inherent in his platform. The real estate mogul's rallies have become increasingly violent, with people of color being targeted by either his fans or security. Thoughtful analysis or reproaches instead, get lost in dick jokes.

Moments like this one best exemplify the conversations we can expect to come between the candidates in the rest of the months leading up to the primary. Exchanges between the candidates in these debates now are mostly littered with petty insults, incoherent shouting, and very little substance. This could be because when it comes down to actual policy, there is very little difference between the four, outside of a few semantics.

While Trump is certainly the most extreme of the bunch, with major talking points that include building a wall on the Mexican border, mass deportations of Muslim Americans, and what would amount to actual war crimes. While Cruz, Rubio and Kasich haven’t exactly been as brash, Trump seems enthusiastic about the latter, despite more than 100 foreign policy experts penning a letter saying such orders would be illegal, and military personnel saying they would refuse them.

Enthusiasm for war crimes aside however, the four Republicans are nearly identical on foreign policy. Despite the fact that the U.S. outspends its next seven global rivals combined on defense, each candidate has said they plan to “rebuild the military.”

Via the Peter G. Peterson foundation

All four candidates have also made repealing or replacing Obamacare a cornerstone of their agendas, as well as made numerous denouncements of Planned Parenthood, with all either pledging at one time or another to defund it. None have committed to raising the minimum wage. Even John Kasich, who has previously touted his raising of the Ohio minimum wage, has since downplayed it.

And while Kasich was seemingly singing “Give Peace A Chance” in Detroit when he said Americans should come together, “respect one another, love one another and lift this country,” he joins the rest of the chorus in their criticisms of the Supreme Court’s decision to make gay marriage legal. Each candidate has either couched their opposition in “religious liberty,” or wrapped it in “state’s rights.”

All favor the party line of deregulating industry more than it already has been, to the point where in a state that has a city where the water is literal poison, Ted Cruz talked about “pulling back” EPA regulators in favor of business. People like those in Flint pay a high price when they take a back seat to big business. It’s harder however, to have that conversation, and much easier focus on a distraction rather than a fire.

Ted’s mouth booger, while providing absolutely hilarious comic relief, is more than likely exactly why the GOP debates have turned into a side-show many people watch more for the entertainment value than substantive discussion. The last four standing have become caricatures of an extreme agenda Americans know very well whether or not they support it, and all that’s left is decide which character can don a cape and top hat and become ringmaster.