After two hours and 30 minutes, one thing seems to be extremely clear: If you want World War III or another endless ground war, vote for one of the nine candidates running for the Republican party nomination. In a debate clouded by of metadata, radical Islam, and the argument over who would be tough enough to deal with ISIS, we are still left wondering what this group of candidates will do about many of the remaining issues left pillaging our nation and the world. But, before delving into the weeds on this mainly foreign policy-focused debate, let’s talk about what wasn’t said.
While CNN did an excellent job questioning the candidates about issues pertaining to immigration and the growing threat of ISIS, they left out a couple of key topics that are crucial to America’s future. With the recent outbreak of state-sanctioned violence against American citizens – as we saw in the cases of Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice – it is clear that our country is currently faced with serious issues involving a widening income inequality, the loss of industry, and an underlying culture of racism. While the threat of ISIS and its radical ideology is a legitimate concern for the American people, this concern pales in comparison to the domestic issues that have divided our nation on the lines of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ZIP code.
Even Donald Trump—a candidate that met with a group of Black ministers two weeks ago—wasn’t asked or compelled in the slightest to address the issues facing communities of color or turn down his racially charged rhetoric about Latinos and Muslims.
At the beginning of yesterday’s debate, the GOP was searching for a savior to beat potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but that search continues. Even with standout performances from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, no one seemed capable of capturing the soul of a Republican party that looks to be moving closer and closer to extremism.
With calls for War World III and calls to carpet bomb the Middle East, it is unclear where the electorate will land as the calendar gets closer to the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. But one thing remains clear, xenophobic, war-thirsty, and downright racist messaging led this debate and seems to be the prevalent strategy to woo Republican primary voters. Here are some standout moments:
- Donald Trump on ISIS and closing the internet: “ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet, and it was our idea … I certainly don’t want to let people who want to kill us use our Internet.”
- Chris Christie on a Syrian No-Fly Zone: “Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if they were stupid enough to think that this President is the same feckless weakling that the President we have in the Oval Office is right now.”
- Ted Cruz on Broader Security and ISIS: “Border security is national security and we will not be letting in the jihadists. We will keep America safe. … We will build a wall that works and I'll get Donald Trump to pay for it."
These three quotes, along with the other questionable comments made throughout the debate, are the latest in a long list of discriminatory and misguided statements made by the nine GOP hopefuls.
As President Obama said in a recent address from the Oval Office following the San Bernardino attack, “Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges—whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks—by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people.”
Sadly, after this debate, it is clear that our values could be thrown out the window by candidates who are more concerned about where to bomb, which refugees to ban, who to deport, or how high a wall should be, instead of what's best for America’s future.