Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of watching the second 2024 Republican debate with members of the Political Science club and Pi Sigma Alpha at University Grille. I should specify that the pleasure came from watching with my friends and peers, not the debate itself.
Like the first debate back in August, the second evoked little more than facepalms and exasperated sighs. The various attempts at zingers and one-liners got a few laughs, but overall, the humor was overshadowed by the dystopian drivel coming out of the candidates’ mouths.
Some jokes and attacks landed, like when Nikki Haley said to Vivek Ramaswamy, “every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.” But most landed as gracefully as a plane crash. Chris Christie tried taunting Donald Trump as “Donald Duck” in one of the more cringe-inducing attempts.
Christie and Haley remain as the relatively sane options, but they still bow to the abominable conservative talking points on immigration and China.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who at the start of the hour began by saying “victimhood in a choice,” continued his act as an even crazier version of Trump. He proposed ending birth-right citizenship. Claiming that the 14th amendment doesn’t apply to undocumented immigrants because they broke the law, he advocated for deporting millions of American citizens whose parents came here illegally.
In one of the more bizarre moments, two candidates mentioned sleeping with teachers. Christie pivoted a question about education reform to comment on the fact that Joe Biden is “sleeping with a member of the teachers' union,” referring to Jill Biden, who is an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
Mike Pence later added that “my wife isn’t a member of the teacher’s union, but I got to admit that I’ve been sleeping with a teacher for 38 years. Full disclosure." It’s weird to talk about your sex life in a presidential debate, but it’s even worse if the person you're sleeping with is a scab.
Despite all the pomp and circumstance, this debate and the larger campaign is all a cruel joke. According to FiveThirtyEight, the seven candidates on stage have a cumulative 37% in national polls. Trump, who did not attend either debate, sits comfortably at 55%. Only Ron DeSantis is polling in the double digits, at 13.5%.
Just as Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have virtually zero chance of defeating Joe Biden in the Democratic race, the idea that any of these Republican candidates have any chance of dethroning Trump as the nominee is laughable.