The Grand Old Disconnect

GOP candidates avoid addressing major political issues at recent Republican debate.


Caricature of the GOP candidates from flickr created by DonkeyHotey

“Senator Cruz, start [with] you. Any word from God?”

While immigration, foreign policy, healthcare, and the economy were all touched upon during the first Republican debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, Ohio, Fox News concluded the program by prioritizing a superfluous question from Facebook over a myriad other significant subjects. As the Republican party attempts to shed the notion that its candidates are out of touch, this laughable inquiry demonstrates the fundamental disconnect between the party and our nation’s pressing issues.

Conservatives have often wondered why young voters have perpetually supported Democratic candidates (60 percent of young voters identified as Democrats in 2012, while 37 percent supported the Republicans according to exit polling from The New York Times).

Perhaps the Grand Old Party could woo more young voters by discussing topics pertinent to that demographic, such as college tuition and student loan debt. While leading Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have laid out detailed plans to make higher education more affordable, the subject wasn’t even mentioned once during the Republican debate.

The Fox News moderators also disregarded the topic of gun control. In the wake of tragic shootings in Tennessee, Louisiana, and South Carolina over the past few months, the absence of the subject from the debate provides further evidence of the GOP’s fundamental disconnect. This, of course, is thanks to the fine folks (lobbyists) from the National Rifle Association who have lined the pockets of Republican candidates for decades. Regardless of one’s political ideology, protecting American citizens from senseless acts of violence should be a chief concern for all of us.

Perhaps the most pressing subject that was absent from the debate was climate change. Climate scientists have characterized global warming as an “imminent threat to mankind,” and even though the pope has voiced his concern, the Republicans continue to turn a blind eye to the subject entirely.

There is simply no excuse for student loan debt, the safety of our citizens and the health of our planet to be disregarded. If Republicans plan on challenging the Democratic nominee in the general election, they must seriously address these real world issues instead of embracing extremist rhetoric that has rocketed a reality television star to the top of the polls.