For once, established wisdom had it right. Donald Trump was not even on the main debate stage before the first votes were cast. However, what they failed to realize was that was due to the fact that he has so much individual support he launched his own rally in direct competition to the debate and took a large bite out of Fox’s ratings. This controversial move seems to have succeeded, especially since without Trump in the room, the other candidates savaged his main competitor Ted Cruz, likely costing him votes and support when he can ill afford to lose them. It’s time to face facts. With ever widening leads in the polls, Donald Trump is poised to win the Republican nomination for President. But that is not the real story here. No, the real tragedy is that a debate that had actual substance and did what a debate was supposed to do, failed to achieve the ratings of what previously amounted to a mudslinging contest.
This was a real debate. A normal debate. But normal is no longer what the public wants. The public wants craziness and outrage, blood and personal attacks, instead of rational policy options. This debate showed us that if we nominated any of these men, they would at least have some conceptions of policy and concrete examples to put into practice. But no. Without Trump in the room, Trump still managed to rule the room. The opening statements were aimed at him, and social media talking about the debate was dominated by Trump Trump Trump even without the celebrity’s appearance.
A political process that is designed to be a substantive review of track records and stances on issues has collapsed into a popularity contest. It seems to be the end of times when we elect people based on appearances. Donald Trump, the man who projects the image of an uncaring, tough, and independent candidate, is likely to be defeat those who may actually have answers to the greatest problems this country faces.