The first debate of the 2016 presidential election takes place today and is being hosted by Fox News. Ten out of the 17 Republican presidential contenders have been choose by Fox to participate, and the selection is based on each candidate’s average ranking in the most recent polling from multiple organizations–such as Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University. The debate will be televised on Fox News, and is divided into two segment, one airing at 5 p.m. ET, consisting of candidates who didn’t make the top ten list, and the other airing at 9 p.m. ET.
The list of candidates was released on Aug. 4, and they include Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The selection process has weathered some criticism, from both candidates who missed the cut and outside groups in mostly conservative cycles. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s adviser Curt Anderson penned an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on July 22, in which he argued that all 16 candidates should be allowed to debate together, because it helps showcase the wide array of talent in the Republican field.
Much of the criticism has been focused on the selection criteria, considering that, based on the margin of error in most polls, there really isn’t much difference between the seventh highest ranked candidate and the 15th. Essentially, any of the candidates could stake a claim of being within the top 10. Limiting the debate to these 10 candidates does fuel conspiracy theories that the RNC and Fox News are playing favorites, and have come to believe some of the candidates are just blowing hot air. Although, some would argue that no conspiracy theory is needed when examining what’s been said by almost all of the candidates lately, as many have appeared really far right in recent days, an effort to be included in the 10-candidate list.
For those with no political appetite—or no appetite for the wackiness that has come to embody the election process and the “lesser of the evils” candidates–here are some of the topics surely to be discussed: civil rights (in light of recent documented cases), income inequality, social programs, the economy, immigration, healthcare (Obamacare), Iran nuclear deal, environment/energy (Obama’s executive orders/climate change regulations), ISIS (domestic and foreign terrorism), Syria, Obama’s job as president, our role in the global economy and as a “global force,” and a host of other issues that should bear little significance to the nomination process—women’s reproductive and health care rights, religion and gay marriage.
Their comments will be compared with those made pre-, during and post-debate to check for changes. Besides RNG.gov, I find these two websites valuable as a pre-debate guide on the candidates are: On The Issues has detailed points regarding candidate solutions/policy ideas, or comments made on said issues, while Inside Gov has a detailed list of facts, including net worth, candidate/super PACS financial assets, rankings on major issues, voting history, records on past or current political positions and other public knowledge information that is VITAL for the voter. Although I do prefer to hear it from the horse’s (or elephant’s) mouth, these websites give an outside scoop rarely discussed in today’s mainstream media.
One can assume there will be strategical changes made in both messages and ideas, given that the candidates are speaking to a national and broader audience, compared to what’s been pitched to smaller audiences in early caucus states and to campaign donors. And the need to appeal to voters beyond the traditional Republican base will be evident, as well. Please take note, and compare with candidates from the Democratic party as well. We all know where that race is headed (Clinton, her billionaires and fully-funded super PACs will out-spend Bernie Sanders, a social Democrat from Vermont), but the sheer amount of candidates in the Republican field shows where the Republican party is headed—a battle between 20th century conservatism and 21st century conservatism. Please tune in to the shit show. I surely will.