Michigan’s electoral votes have not been cast for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 when former President George Bush won the election. But the Michigan Republican Party will play host to the slew of candidates hoping to receive the GOP’s presidential nomination in a debate tonight at Oakland University in Rochester. The debate will be the ninth of this primary season, and many people are, understandably, beginning to lose interest in a race that often seems more like primetime entertainment than politics. But Michigan residents, including students, should pay attention to tonight’s debate and seriously consider and discuss the ideas of the presidential hopefuls.
The GOP debate will commence tonight at 8 p.m. and air on CNBC. Tonight’s debate will feature Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, former Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. The discussion will focus on jobs, taxes, the budget deficit and the economy.
While in Michigan, the candidates should focus on issues pertaining to the state. Michigan has been hit hard by the economic downturn and represents the struggle many states face across the nation. If Republicans want to connect with Michigan citizens, they need to speak to the obstacles facing the state and offer solutions.
The Republican debates are attracting a large number of viewers, but not for the right reasons. Romney and Perry have spent more time bickering with each other than giving Americans a good reason to believe that either of them could be a successful president. The debates have received more attention because of their shock value, and a nation that is facing serious unemployment and economic hardship deserves better than bickering for ratings. The candidates need to stop squabbling with each other and give meaningful answers to the questions.
While the style and content of these debates could be improved, it is also the responsibility of eligible voters to watch them with a critical eye. Young voters are too often characterized as apathetic toward politics, and a debate not far from the University is an opportunity for students to become active listeners and show they are seriously invested in the nation’s future.
The debates are not just for conservative candidates to pander to their base. They are an opportunity for Democrats and moderates to engage with the opposition. People from other parties should challenge the candidates to provide meaningful responses and well-thought criticisms of the current administration. Forcing the candidates to face tough questions is a crucial part of the election process.
Students should watch the debate and think seriously about what they hear, and the candidates need to seize the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions. The Oakland University debate will bring necessary national attention to the struggles of Michigan residents, and the candidates should focus on these issues rather than let petty disputes dominate the evening.