The third Republican presidential debate was held Oct. 28 in Boulder, Colorado. CNBC correspondents hosted and moderated the debate.
“CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on ‘the key issues that matter to all voters — job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy,’” according to a letter written to NBC News from the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.
As the debate went on, it quickly turned away from what the candidates were told.
“Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters,” according to the letter to NBC News. “That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case.”
While the candidates of both the Republican and Democratic parties should be able to handle surprising and tough questions from the media, the behavior presented by the moderators from CNBC was neither professional nor fair. Such behavior should not continue for any of the following presidential debates.
Moderators are there to moderate. They choose the questions that will be asked, but we as a society submit the questions asked during the debates.
So, that begs the question: what should we be asking the candidates?
Instead of asking ridiculous questions during presidential debates about things that don’t truly matter, we should be asking questions that help inform the public about the candidates’ stances and policies.
Questions such as what their biggest weakness was and how they were addressing it were asked, and one moderator even told Donald Trump the chances of him flying away from the podium he was standing at by flapping his arms were higher than his chances of cutting taxes without increasing the deficit.
“You look at the questions: Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain?” said Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz during the debate. “Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?”
Gov. Jeb Bush was even asked a question about fantasy football.
“They asked me about fantasy football, really?” Gov. Bush said during an interview the next day. “I mean, we have workforce participation rates in this country at the lowest they’ve been since 1977, declining income for the middle class, and we’re talking about fantasy football.”
Cruz and Gov. Bush were not the only candidates who expressed concern over the questions asked during the debate.
“We have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us, and we’re talking about fantasy football?” said Gov. Chris Christie during the debate.
Gov. Christie then suggested the government should be more focused on securing the borders and supporting American values and families.
Sen. Ben Sasse criticized senators as a whole during his maiden speech on Nov. 2 for allowing pop culture to be the focus of discussion in the Capitol.
“We, in recent decades, have allowed the short-termism of sound-bite culture to invade this chamber and radically reduce so many debates to fact-free zones,” Sasse said.
Sasse went on to say that few American citizens believe in the platforms that are being presented by the Republicans and Democrats.
“The people despise us all,” Sasse said. “And why is this? Because we’re not doing the job we were sent here to do. The Senate isn’t tackling the great national problems that worry those we work for.”
Sasse then proposed finding a better place to discuss the problems our nation faces.
“If the Senate isn’t going to be the most important venue for addressing our biggest national problems, where is that venue?” Sasse said. “Where should the people look for the long-term national prioritization?”
If the moderators of debates are more concerned with exposing the candidates’ stances on non-important issues such as fantasy football, what effect does that have on the voters when the elections come?
Ultimately, we are the ones who will be choosing our next president.
We have that huge responsibility lying on our shoulders, and it should not be taken lightly.
The debates amongst the candidates are there for the public to get to know them and decide whom they agree with more.
If we don’t get to know the candidates, we will essentially be blindly electing someone into office.
Let’s start asking the real questions before it’s too late.