No one can say any longer that Fox News is not an arm of the Republican Party. Strategically selected for the first Republican debate, our Fair and Balanced network is acting as makeup stylist for the Republican debate to paint up the hot mess that is the GOP field.
There has been talk of rules, focused moderators, and even a secret plan in case Trump does what a lot of Republicans fear he is going to do, but Fox’s efforts can only do so much to hide the inevitable ugliness simmering in the GOP primary.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’s rosiest hope is that the Fox debate will be a boring one of scripted, unexamined Obama-defamations because it will mean that the GOP powder-keg will not have exploded. The obvious worst-case scenario is that the candidates spark inter-party mutinies and terminally disfigure the eventual nominee’s campaign.
Remember that the Republican National Committee has decisively cut down on the number of debates from nominations past, and the strategy has been to lessen the amount of time that the candidates have to potentially, perhaps inevitably, ruin their campaigns. This is because the far right has taken early political dominance in the primary process, and in the little time the candidates do have they must pander to the shaken bottle of bees that is their Tea Party base.
In full pendulum swing from the under-participated midterm, the coming presidential election is going to be embarrassingly destructive for Republicans’ presidential ambitions because they must cater — if they are not already committed — to the Radical Right, and the voting trends are outrunning Radical Republican ideas and their attempts to cancel Democratic gains with doublespeak voting right bills. The Party of No has become the sub-nationalistic Party of Fear — fueled by the Tea Party’s actual fears of a lot of things: immigrants, gun control, the United Nations, gay marriage, transsexuals, military preparedness, vaccines, black rights, college course curriculums, the Supreme Court’s Constitutional function, scientists and teachers’ professional opinions, and those are just Republicans’ national-level news-making fears.
The Tea Party’s momentum is certainly finite, however, as the Tea Party’s current poster-boy Donald Trump, even if he does not self-sabotage with his famously insecure, reactionary insults to anyone who disagrees with him, will surely implode as the Tea Party learns that he is not quite the litmus-test-passing Republican radical they think he is.
At this stage of the nomination process, there is very little awareness about where Donald Trump actually stands on the issues of 2016 and his campaign is riding solely on the strength of his business personality. His past political opinions are currently being examined throughout the media and proving as inconsistent as they are vulnerable to Republican attack. Trump will likely be maligned for his shifting political donations, and especially his stunningly faux pas donations and support for both Clintons.
Perhaps in the debate he will be more illuminating about his prospective executive agenda, but as of today his only known political passion is his arguably racist opposition to immigration. This is sure to be a controversial subject in the debate because of Trump’s recent comments on the issue, and it will be a valuably rare topic in which the candidates can distinguish themselves- voters get the point otherwise that the candidates all think the President is terrible, Obamacare is the worst and Iran is irredeemably evil.
But this lack of party vision is exactly why Trump is the front-runner in the GOP: Republicans have no ideas. Donald Trump’s supporters love that he says what he thinks, but what he thinks is singularly that everyone else is a moron. In fact, none of the candidates has any ideas, which is precisely why there is room for so many candidates in the first place and a frontrunner who can spend all day in Twitter feuds.
The Republican majorities in the House and the Senate were elected and continue to exist simply to be against Democrats’ ideas, and that the GOP’s philosophy is that America had no problems in the 80’s economically, internationally, and socially, and that having no ideas is somehow true conservatism. The Radical Right politically shrugs at our drowning middle class, our visibly crumbling infrastructure, our warming and increasingly barren planet, our unprecedentedly low wages, our debilitating college debt, our abandoned veterans, our toxic prison-industrial complex profiting from whole ethnic groups’ unbreakable cycles of incarceration and our financial system’s bankruptcy of the entire world.
There is a strong possibility that Thursday’s Republican debate will not be calm at all. Unfortunately, vitriol is needed to steal attention from the plethora of competing Republican candidates, and improvising that vitriol tonight for political gain is the only way to be noticed standing next to so many other rivals.
The Republican National Committee may be begging the candidates to stick to the anti-Obama/Clinton script, but circus acts like cooking bacon with a machine gun, destroying a cell phone, and rants about President Obama marching Jews to oven doors is the only way their respective candidates have been able to grab any media attention of late. Going rogue Thursday night may be these candidates’ only chance to justify continuing their campaigns because the path of outrage is better than the path of irrelevancy.