None of the eleven candidates on stage came out the clear winner or loser after the second GOP debate last night. While differing slightly in style and delivery, the candidates tended to agree on their vision for the future of the country. That vision is frightening.
Here are the five biggest losers in a future Republican administration:
The GOP debate had to be particularly cringe worthy for women watching. First came Donald Trump’s backpedaling of his absurd comments about Carly Fiorina’s face. Then the entire field voiced support over defunding Planned Parenthood, their only point of contention being whether the issue was worth shutting down the government over. Not a single candidate stood up for women’s right to reproductive healthcare. And finally, when asked about a woman on American currency, Mike Huckabee picked his wife, Ben Carson picked his mother, and Donald Trump picked his daughter. Carly Fiorina, the only female candidate, said she was opposed to putting a woman on American currency.
With the noted exception of Rand Paul, the candidates each expressed their interest for a more militaristic approach to foreign policy. Ignoring the fact that the U.S. has the most expensive military in the world, so large the Department of Defense can’t even account for all its many resources, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson each called for expanded military spending with other candidates echoing support. Other candidates chimed in favor of war over diplomacy in regions ranging from Iran to Russia to Syria.
CNN Host Jake Tapper asked the candidates if they support addressing climate change in the same way that President Reagan supported addressing ozone depletion. Marco Rubio responded saying he’s opposed to any policies that make America a harder place to do business with Scott Walker and Chris Christie echoing their support on that point. Not a single candidate stood up for addressing climate change in a serious way.
Each candidate expressed their support for securing the border with ideas ranging from building an enormous wall (Trump) to using drones (Christie) to tripling the size of Border Patrol (Cruz). Not a single candidate defended the dignity of undocumented families living in this country. Instead, candidates sparred over whether to deport the entire undocumented population of the country en masse or over time and whether the constitution should be re-written to end birthright citizenship.
Over 47 million Americans live in poverty in the United States including 20 percent of this nation’s children, the highest childhood poverty rate in the industrialized world. Not a single question was asked or answer given as to how candidates would alleviate poverty. The closest they came was a short dialogue about the federal minimum wage: Scott Walker opposed any increase, while Ben Carson said it “probably or possibly” should be raised, while other candidates remained hushed.
While each candidate tried to distinguish themselves from the fray, it became increasingly clear that their vision for the country does not vary widely. Even when the GOP’s crowded field focused on policy over personal attacks, candidates described a future United States that devalues its citizens, degrades our climate, and glorifies war. In that scenario, everyone loses.
Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.