As you’ve probably guessed by now, we at Occupy World Writes are news junkies. In this country, if you only relied on the major media for information, you’d be forgiven by us if you thought that the most important thing happening in this country is the jockeying for position in an election that’s still fourteen months away.
We try to stay as apolitical as possible. We’ve been watching the whole story unfold in front of us, even though in our case, it’s more like watching a trainwreck. We know that what happens is going to be ugly, but we just can’t turn away. With that in mind, I’d like to present my personal reflections on last night’s GOP Presidential debate.
First of all, there was the location of the debate; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Ronald Reagan’s been the Pole Star of the conservative movement for years, so this shouldn’t surprise anybody. Of course, all the candidates professed their love for Saint Ronnie, and pledged to follow his ideals.
When Ronald Reagan’s son Ron, a liberal political commentator, was asked by Politico what his father would think of the candidates, he replied:
“Full of weirdos, charlatans and people who aren’t really running for president? I think he’d be kind of appalled. I hope that if he’s floating around somewhere, he’s amused, being separated from all this.”
His other son Michael, a conservative strategist, was asked what the candidates get wrong about his dad. His reply:
“Every one of them mentioned my father in one way or another, and it’s interesting to see how many of them, and how many of the people out there that they’re speaking to recreate my father in their image and likeness instead of his.”
Once again, there were two debates. The first (the “kids’ table”, as some of the snarkier pundits have named it) went for an hour and forty-five minutes. The second debate (the one with the higher polling candidates) went for three hours.
The debates themselves went as expected. All the candidates made bold claims about what they’d do if they were elected, but gave no specifics about how they’d accomplish them. Planned Parenthood was demonized by all. The ACA was blasted by all, but there wasn’t any plan to replace it proposed by any of the candidates. Most of the candidates went after Donald Trump at one time or another; the exceptions being Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Climate change was accepted as fact by quite a few of the candidates (a surprise), who for the most part then went on to say that since we couldn’t fix it on our own, that we should do nothing (no surprise).
There was a lot of chest pounding going on over the Iran deal, and loud assertions by each candidate that he or she was Israel’s best friend. All claimed that they would defeat ISIS; once again without any details as to how they planned to accomplish it. There was a lot of sniping at Hillary Clinton. In short, exactly what you’d expect.
There was something else that I expected, though; something about the location of the debate that seems to have passed over the moderators’ and candidates’ heads. Simi Valley was also the location of the first trial of the four policemen involved in the beating of Rodney King. In that trial, despite the video evidence, the jury acquitted three of the officers and had a deadlocked jury on the fourth, resulting in a mistrial. The verdicts led to the Los Angeles riots of 1992, and a national dialog on police violence against the black community.
It’s twenty-three years later, and police violence against the black community has again become a flashpoint for national discussion. Was the #BlackLivesMatter movement discussed at the debate? Of course not. The irony is staggering – and it was the biggest takeaway of the night for me.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana