GOP Debate Displays A Republican Party In Accelerating Decline

GOP Debate Displays A Republican Party In Accelerating Decline

First Republican presidential primary debate on Fox News Channel

They may as well have hung a gigantic Dear Leader portrait of Defendant Trump over the stage last night, for all that happened on it. When Vivek Ramaswamy, accurately described as sounding like a ChatGPT bot, dominates a debate, you know you’re in a place that only Jean-Paul Sartre could find words to describe.

The best comment I saw after the debate was on one of the political websites, and it consisted of one word: why? Indeed, why bother? Only two of the so-called candidates indicated they would’t support Defendant Trump if he’s convicted of a felony: Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson. And Christie was roundly booed when he described Trump’s conduct as “beneath the office of President of the United States.”

Commentators on MSNBC after the debate accurately pointed out that every one of them embraced the two biggest loser issues for Republicans – abortion and climate change. Pence was down there at the end of the stage lying his head off when he said that 70 percent of Americans support a ban on abortions after a fetus can “feel pain.” The correct figure is about 70 percent of Americans support a woman’s right to an abortion, period. Polling on climate change is almost as bad for Republicans.

Ramaswamy, who will get hired by Fox News the minute he drops out of the race, got off a whopper when he said more people were dying from climate change policies than from climate change itself. Only a few seconds were devoted to the issue that’s driving young people to vote Democratic in droves, but not one of the so-called candidates mentioned the people who were killed in fires on Maui that every scientist not currently covered in oil has said were caused by droughts caused by climate change.

The entire spectacle didn’t have the scrap of dignity it would take to be compared with the clown car Republican debates in 2015 and 2016. Of course, back in those days, the stage usually included “the elephant not in the room,” as he was described by Fox host Bret Baier, to keep things at least moderately interesting.

Attendance at the next one of these things should be called train-wreck spotting. It’s really astounding that one of our two major political parties is unable to field even a single candidate who looks, sounds, and acts like he or she could actually do the work of the job they’re running for. It’s not Occupant of the Oval Office, after all. It’s President of the United States, and the crew on that stage last night couldn’t get elected president of a junior college student council, much less the highest office in the land. Shame on you, Republican Party. You can do better.

Or maybe it’s true that there really isn’t a Republican Party anymore. It’s just a cult, and not even one that’s interesting enough to make fun of.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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