Bernie Sanders live tweets the Republican debate
Bernie Sanders live tweets the Republican debate

Mer­ci­ful­ly, the first Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial debate of the 2016 cam­paign is over. Those of us who watched the event on Fox Noise Chan­nel will nev­er get those two hours back, but thank­ful­ly, on Twit­ter, pro­gres­sives had a fan­tas­tic debate watch­ing com­pan­ion in Ver­mont Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders, who live-tweet­ed the debate.

Here’s a chronol­o­gy of Bernie’s best rejoin­ders to the Repub­li­can field:

6:15 PM: Jeb Bush has a lot of respect for his broth­er George W. Real­ly? Let’s not for­get the vir­tu­al col­lapse of our econ­o­my when he left office.

6:16 PM: Will any Repub­li­can talk about the need to raise the cur­rent star­va­tion min­i­mum wage of $7.25 an hour?

6:20 PM: Does any Repub­li­can care about whether or not a woman, rather than the gov­ern­ment, should make deci­sions regard­ing her own body?

6:30 PM: Still wait­ing. Will Fox ask if it’s appro­pri­ate for bil­lion­aires to buy elections?

6:32 PM: Kasich saved Ohio’s econ­o­my! Oh. Who was the pres­i­dent who helped low­er unem­ploy­ment and cre­ate mil­lions of new jobs?

6:33 PM: Mar­co Rubio is right. The peo­ple are frus­trat­ed. The rich get much rich­er and every­one else is get­ting poor­er. Will the Repub­li­cans talk about this?

6:36 PM: U.S. is the only major coun­try with­out guar­an­teed paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave. Will we hear any­thing about that tonight?

6:38 PM: Who would’ve believed it? Rand Paul is right. Yes, we can fight ter­ror­ism and pro­tect the U.S. Constitution.

6:40 PM: The clock is tick­ing. Cli­mate change? Income inequal­i­ty? Cit­i­zens Unit­ed? Wait­ing for the ques­tions and the discussion.

6:43 PM: Some of us did­n’t believe Bush and Cheney on Iraq. We vot­ed NO. That was the right vote.

6:48 PM: Did Don­ald Trump just sup­port a nation­al sin­gle-pay­er health sys­tem? Well. He was right on something.

6:52 PM: Huck­abee and Car­son: more tax breaks for bil­lion­aires, high­er tax­es for work­ing families.

7:03 PM: Car­son talks about the debt. Hey, Dr. Car­son… the Repub­li­cans for­got to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. $6–8 tril­lion on the cred­it card.

7:05 PM: Jeb Bush — Talk about killing jobs. When your broth­er left office we were hem­or­rhag­ing eight hun­dred thou­sand jobs a month. And you want more of the same?

7:11 PM: Social Secu­ri­ty can pay every pen­ny owed for next eigh­teen years. Lift the cap on tax­able income and it’ll be sol­vent for decades.

7:21 PM: Will Fox and the Repub­li­cans talk about pay equi­ty for women work­ers who make sev­en­ty-eight cents on the dol­lar com­pared to men? Waiting.

7:26 PM: Will Fox and the Repub­li­cans dis­cuss crim­i­nal jus­tice reform and the need to end police killing of unarmed African-Americans?

7:29 PM: Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans are strug­gling with hor­ren­dous stu­dent debt + high inter­est rates. Do the Repub­li­cans have any­thing to say?

7:46 PM: Repub­li­can agen­da: more mon­ey for mil­i­tary, tax breaks for the rich, cuts to Social Secu­ri­ty & pro­grams for work­ing families.

7:49 PM: Lis­ten to Repub­li­cans talk about mil­i­tary fund­ing and remem­ber what [Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Dwight] Eisen­how­er said about pow­er of the mil­i­tary-indus­tri­al complex.

7:50 PM: Pope Fran­cis says cli­mate change is one of the great crises we face. I’m wait­ing for one word from Fox and the Repub­li­cans on it.

8:01 PM: The very rich get rich­er, every­one else poor­er. And Repub­li­cans who take cam­paign mon­ey from bil­lion­aires have noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant to say.

8:05 PM: It’s over. Not one word about eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty, cli­mate change, Cit­i­zens Unit­ed or stu­dent debt. That’s why the Repub­li­cans are so out of touch.

As Bernie points out, what was most sig­nif­i­cant about the debate was what was miss­ing. Fox per­son­al­i­ties Brett Baier, Meg­yn Kel­ly, and Chris Wal­lace wast­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to drill into the issues and ask sub­stan­tive ques­tions. The can­di­dates were not chal­lenged on any of the great sys­temic and press­ing issues fac­ing our coun­try, like big mon­ey in elec­tions, income inequal­i­ty or the cli­mate crisis.

Kel­ly did ask one ques­tion of Scott Walk­er about the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment before cut­ting to com­mer­cial — but this received all of a few sec­onds of air­time. Oth­er­wise, the top­ic of crim­i­nal jus­tice reform received scant atten­tion. The debate stayed in shal­low waters for near­ly its entire duration.

Of the ten can­di­dates, John Kasich came across as per­haps the most rea­son­able and com­pas­sion­ate. Giv­en an oppor­tu­ni­ty to spar with Don­ald Trump, he passed, with­out endors­ing Trump’s fiery rhetoric. He had a good debate.

But he won’t get the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion by appeal­ing to bicon­cep­tu­als. He may well turn out to be the Jon Hunts­man of the 2016 cycle.

The can­di­date who gave the scari­est per­for­mance was for­mer Arkansas Mike Huck­abee, the man who set police killer Mau­rice Clemons free. Huck­abee espoused a vision of a theo­crat­ic gov­ern­ment that dic­tates Amer­i­cans’ fam­i­ly plan­ning choic­es and spends ever increas­ing amounts of mon­ey procur­ing weapons for our military.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, media mogul and real estate tycoon Don­ald Trump talked the most with­out say­ing any­thing sub­stan­tive. He did not rule out run­ning for pres­i­dent as an inde­pen­dent when chal­lenged to, or take back any of his absurd com­ments from ear­li­er this sum­mer. At times he seemed bored or dis­in­ter­est­ed, like the debate was beneath him. But at oth­er times, he seemed more engaged, toss­ing barbs at the Fox hosts as well as trad­ing jabs with oth­er can­di­dates on stage.

The next big Repub­li­can debate will take place in Sep­tem­ber at The Gip­per’s pres­i­den­tial library, and will be tele­vised by CNN.

The first Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate, mean­while, won’t hap­pen till Octo­ber 13th. It will take place in Neva­da and will also be tele­vised by CNN.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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