The Republican debate on Oct. 28 was a cringe-worthy marathon of nonsensical policy proposals riddled with cheap buzzwords and false statistics.
From the beginning, an extensive amount of attention was focused on economic discourse to no one’s benefit — the plans proposed throughout the night proved largely inane.
Carson’s 15 percent flat tax plan and Cruz’s 10 percent income tax and 16 percent business tax plan — both of which have been extensively deconstructed as implausible and unworkable — set the tone for the rest of the evening. They were followed by Fiorina’s equally implausible desire to reduce the tax code by 72,997 pages.
What followed was more of the same. Candidates laid the foundations for their outlandish stances on economic issues on a bed of untruths and falsities. Cruz, Bush and Fiorina all cited incorrect statistics regarding the number of people cast into poverty during Obama’s presidency, beating a proverbial dead horse at various points during the night. Meanwhile, Carson was ensnared in controversy regarding his involvement with Mannatech. Trump was later held under suspicion involving his reference to Rubio as “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator” due to Rubio’s endorsement of H1-B, a visa that allows American companies to employ foreign workers in technical fields. Trump would go on to outright deny this on stage.
Fortunately, the moderators were quick to keep the candidates in check while many have decried what they believe to be poor performance on CNBC’s part for allowing its moderators to “interrogate” the candidates and to occasionally call out falsehoods.
Those who managed to make it through the night without major pitfalls employed a heavy reliance on buzzword tactics that wowed the live audience but proved unimpressive to the trained ear.
While Rubio and Cruz have been lauded as the evening’s clear victors, part of the reason for their relative domination of the debate was their willingness to fall back on tried-and-true rhetorical strategies such as lambasting “the liberal media” when things weren’t going their way.
Cruz particularly won points early on for calling out the moderators on their poor question choices, but he did so in a way that proved to be only another echo in a cacophony of Republican whining about media bias.
Rubio chimed in on a similar note — his reference to the mainstream media as the Democratic “ultimate super PAC” caused an uproar of ill-earned cheers and applause.
Overall, the night proved unimpressive. Already mediocre candidates stagnated while supposed “breakout stars” of the debate enjoyed relative success based on their heavy reliance on conventional rhetorical strategies.
Future performances would do well to be more grounded, factual and straight-forward.