To some viewers, each Republican debate seems to prove a new low. However, the latest debate on Thursday surpassed the lowest of the low. The other GOP candidates funneled their collective efforts into usurping Trump’s dominance, taking up Mitt Romney’s recent rallying cry to the GOP to bring down the Republican Party’s current frontrunner. Republican presidential candidates, in an attempt to stop Trump at Thursday night’s debate, only managed to lose what little dignity the race still had.
Watching the debate felt like standing in front of the glass of an ape enclosure. Mudslinging, yelling and references to anatomy left an impression of barbarism that dedicated debate viewers have grown all too familiar with. Not only did each candidate display a childlike immaturity,but their theatrics and attention-seeking ploys reeked through the television screen. The debate, a forum which should provide potential leaders of the nation the opportunity to assert their credentials for leadership, instead launched onlookers back into their middle school cafeterias. This race is already unprecedented in many respects, but now it is a perversion and adulteration of what the political process in the United States was meant to be.
This development has been a long time coming. In 1994, a 17-year-old MTV attendee asked President Clinton if he wore boxers or briefs. With modern access to real-time interviews and live-streaming elections, people feel even more intimate with the president. This creates a strange dichotomy. On one hand, witnessing the personality presidents display to the public gives citizens the rare opportunity to see them as real people instead of figureheads. However, informality, such as the question posed to President Clinton or petty snipes unleashed by Trump at Thursday’s debate, also detracts from focusing on the legitimate issues concerning the state of the country. There is nothing wrong with presidents and candidates sharing their personal details, but that shouldn’t be an invitation to throw away all semblance of dignity.
One hardly needs to say that Trump’s behavior Thursday night was inappropriate. It isn’t surprising, considering Trump’s consistent lack of respect for the debate process or much else. But Trump’s behavior is dangerously infectious, encouraging other candidates to lash out in the same boorish fashion and mirror his wild antics. Intimacy between the president and the people is an often-praised virtue, but candidates should not feel comfortable acting like bullies and children. When the size of one’s phallic member becomes a good defense of one’s capability as a world leader, something is amiss. Voters must remember that ‘presidential’ leaders do not sink to the level of their opponents but rise above the fray to set an example for the rest of the country to follow.
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