© Josh Sager – September 2015
The 2nd GOP primary debate (link to transcript) was unbelievable painful to watch for anybody with even a passing knowledge of politics or current events. It was a fact-free expedition into the ids of some of the most ignorant, xenophobic, and authoritarian right wing extremists in our nation.
For over 2 hours and 45 minutes, the eleven candidates on the stage spewed absurdities onto the stage and bickered among themselves, while the CNN “moderators” let the drama unfold without fact-checking a single lie. In fact, the CNN moderators did little but bring up topics and try to start fights between candidates by asking them to respond to criticisms that the others have levied against them.
In terms of the political race, there were three major takeaways from this debate:
- The GOP primary is officially the Donald Trump show. In addition to dominating large portions of the debate with his bluster, several of the question in the first section of the debate centered on comments made by Trump or his qualifications for the office.
- The GOP base is severely disenchanted with the GOP establishment and is aligning in support of the candidates who have the least connections with mainstream politics. The three anti-establishment candidates, Trump, Carson, and Fiorina, are meeting with wide populist success, while the more traditional candidates in the race are floundering.
- Fascism has come to the United States and it looks like an elephant. All of the candidates on the stage support subordinating the power of the state to the needs of powerful interests (both corporate and private) and use a combination of extreme xenophobia (anti-Muslim/immigrant) and nationalism to garner public support. This is the textbook definition of fascism and the election of any of these candidates would be extremely dangerous.
While there were simply too many extreme and stupid comments made during this “debate” to list them in a reasonably-sized article, here is a short selection of some of the most extreme and insane things said:
Bush argued that his brother “sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism, and he did keep us safe,” Walker agreed, and added that Obama, not Bush, is to blame for the turmoil in the Middle East.
At no point did one of the candidates or “moderators” point out that Bush was president during 9/11, when over 3,000 Americans were killed on American soil, or that he started wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that destabilized the region and created power vacuums that are now filled by ISIS. Additionally, nobody pointed out the thousands of military servicemen who were killed or maimed in these needless wars through IEDs or suicide terrorism abroad.
Fiorina demonized Planned Parenthood based upon the widely-discredited videos that were recently released by an anti-abortion front group and dared Obama and Clinton to “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
The only problem with this is that such a video doesn’t actually exist. What she was citing was a compilation of videos, created by the same anti-abortion front group that recently tried to sting Planned Parenthood, which edited together a video of a stillbirth, a video of fetal brain tissue harvesting, and several pieces of stock footage.
Carson reiterated his immigration plan of building a wall and completely denying undocumented immigrants access to social welfare programs, while offering a limited number a non-citizen status where they will be allowed to work as guest workers in the “agricultural sphere.”
Yes, the only African American candidate in the GOP race is actually proposing a plan to create a separate class for certain residents in our nation, who would be forced into agricultural labor, paid sub-minimum wages, and denied voting rights, worker protections and any hope of becoming citizens. While, presumably, Carson doesn’t support giving the state the ability to buy and sell these laborers (as suggested by an Iowa GOP leader last month), he is still supporting a systemic and official exploitation of a minority group as second-class labor that is only a stone’s throw away from slavery.
Cruz recited the standard GOP talking points on Iran—that is makes Obama the “leading financier” of terror and that it will “accelerate Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons”—and promised to “on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.” While Kasich tried to fight back against this ridiculous plan, Cruz basically beat him down and no other Republican backed him up (in fact, Fiorina, Huckabee, and Carson all appear to agree with Cruz on this).
This Iran “plan” is absurd on several levels. First, the idea that Obama is funding terrorism is simply wrong, as this deal would free up Iran’s money that we, and our allies, have frozen—it is their money, not ours. Second, the seizure of these funds and other sanctions that brought Iran to the table are not unilateral, thus a failure to reach a deal or the destruction of the current agreement would result in most of the sanctions being lifted without any concessions by Iran. Third, the Iran nuclear deal will prevent Iran from getting a nuke for at least a decade, compared with the current potential breakout time, which is somewhere between two and six months.
In totality, this GOP debate was terrifying in that it showed how crazy, xenophobic and extreme the GOP “mainstream” has gotten. They are angry, sick of “librul” (read: sane) people and eager to support any candidate who is just as extreme as they are.