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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Staff Ed: GOP debate delivers entertainment, lacks substance

Staff Ed: GOP debate delivers entertainment, lacks substance


Last Wednesday evening, the top 11 Republican candidates for President gathered at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. for the second GOP presidential debate.

The candidates exchanged playful banter, candidate Donald Trump being a common target and instigator of the dialogues. While it was entertaining, the exchanges almost reaching absurd proportions.

The second GOP presidential debate averaged 23.1 million views on CNN, according to CNN Money, making it the most watched program on CNN in history.

Though some important issues received attention during the debate, such as Russia’s involvement in Syria and the migration of Syrian refugees, there were not many clear statements from candidates about what actions they would take. The focus was the candidates who butted heads.

While limited screen time gives candidates a disadvantage in bringing up detailed plans of action, there should be greater emphasis in reporting on what the candidates say, how valid their plans of action would be, rather than how it is said, or the possible entertainment value from it.

Come election time, how a candidate chooses to handle these very real situations is going to be what is important, not so much the quality of their banter.

In a time where students are continuously encouraged to get involved, to research the candidates, to watch the debates, and to not make the debates a “popularity contest,” it’s a little hypocritical that one of the debate’s primary focus were the candidates themselves.

While it is important to understand the candidate’s background and know how that can affect a candidate’s decision, the individualistic focus, the push from candidates to connect with viewers by making themselves look human prevented legitimate and concrete discussions on important issues.

For example, there was no discussion on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

According to National Journal, the Affordable Care Act has 10.2 million Americans who have paid premiums to start coverage. Nothing about the act was mentioned during the debate. Especially with the number of Americans this issue affects, understanding a candidate’s views on this issue is monumental, particularly if a candidate chooses to change the act during their presidency. Healthcare is an important topic that should have received more coverage during the debate.

Greater emphasis from the media on candidates being given the screen time to clearly state their beliefs and provide solutions to national and international issues could give students and viewers a starting point in creating an informed decision on a potential candidate, rather than entirely focusing on the debate, or candidate’s entertainment value.