Category: politics spot

politics spot: Great questions, not so great candidates (Republican Primary Debate #1)

politics spot: Great questions, not so great candidates (Republican Primary Debate #1)

The moderators of the evening's debate.  (Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The moderators of the evening’s debate. (Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I never thought I would say this, but Fox News did an excellent job hosting the first official Primetime Republican Primary Debate last night. Moderators Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, and Brett Baier had the task of wrangling together the top ten national polling candidates and get them to attempt to respect some simple debate guidelines. While the format was easy enough, of course the group of men couldn’t respect anything. The questions posed to the ten candidates were well structured, but the answers varied from somewhat sensible to absolutely out of touch. Here are some brief takeaways and clips from last night.

#GOPDebate, Issue by Issue

Women & Women’s Rights.

  • An initial slammer was delivered by Megyn Kelly when she asked Trump to comment on his degrading comments towards women. There’s something to be said when you can visibly hear laughing in the audience at the idea of calling women “fat pigs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
  • In another delightful exchange, Kelly asked Trump when he actually became a Republican, given that he’s sounded off on pro-choice opinions before and has even on some occasions referred to himself as a Democrat in most choices. Trump’s response? Well, he’s just as Reagan as the rest of them.
  • When pushed by Kelly (if you couldn’t tell, she was on fire that night), Sen. Marco Rubio (R- FL) said he actually didn’t favor a rape and incest exception to abortion laws, noting he thinks “future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.”

More applause. It’s a rowdy republican time in Cleveland, Ohio – and an unfortunate time to be a woman listening to these candidates.


  • Donald Trump correctly remarked the following during a question on immigration: “So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.” He’s right; thanks to his crude remarks about Mexicans during his announcement speech, immigration will now define part of the election.
  • Probably the most interesting answer on this topic went to Jeb Bush, who acknowledged the moral complexities of immigration. However, he then slammed into the sanctuary city policies, which are known to shelter and protect immigrant communities from draconian federal immigration laws.

LGBT Rights.

  • Ohio Governor John Kasich gave the most startling answer on this topic, almost mirroring that of any traditional Democrat: “Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith.” 
  • Cut to Sen. Rand Paul (R- KY), with a classic Libertarian position of less government regulation of individual activities and more freedom for individual liberty.

Foreign Policy.

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Well, the GOP ten that night would beg to differ.

  • You’ll read this quote from Mike Huckabee for a while: “The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is kill people and break things.”
  • Ben Carson’s not satisfied with the size of our military. “You know, we turned our back on Israel, our ally. You know, and a situation like that, of course Obama’s not going to be able to do anything. I would shore up our military first, because if you don’t get the military right, nothing else is going to work.”


Let’s be real, we all weren’t expecting this subject to come up whatsoever. Yet Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) was asked the following well-composed question:

Governor Walker, many in the Black Live Matter movement, and beyond, believe that overly-aggressive police officers targeting young African Americans is the civil rights issue of our time. Do you agree? And if so, how do you plan to address it? And if not, why not?

  • Walker’s answer wasn’t half bad, either: “It’s about making sure that law enforcement professionals, not only in the way in to their positions but all the way through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to the use of force. And that we protect and stand up and support those men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement.” 

What’s missing? Was there a winner?

Well, plenty. But here are some key issues that weren’t discussed:

  • Student debt
  • Climate change

And some other things I’m sure I’ve missed. Did anyone “win” the debate? Well, it’s August. The Republican candidate will not be announced until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland sometime during summer 2016. Between now and then, there is plenty of time for candidates to rise and fall in the polls and within public opinion. No one did enough to answer the questions asked of them; hopefully future debates will continue to push the candidates to make clearer stances. One thing’s for sure – we haven’t seen anything yet. -Celene Barrera

The next debate is scheduled for September 16, 2015 and will be hosted by CNN. Details to follow. For live tweeting during any and all 2016 related events & news, follow Celene @celenebeats

Image Credit: Northeast Ohio Media Group

politics spot: a day at the polls (wish you were here)

politics spot: a day at the polls (wish you were here)

This is the first in a series of pieces I’m doing on my life this summer. They are meant to be a mixture of fact and carefully constructed fiction. I hope you enjoy. 

I wake up at 5:15am on Tuesday, June 3. It is the Statewide Direct Primary Election for the state of California, and I have decided to volunteer my time as a poll worker. My eyes are bleary as I debate whether there’s enough time to fry up an egg sandwich; I don’t know when I’ll have lunch. Eggs scramble into a sandwich bun and in a blur, I’m in the car and off to Monte Vista Elementary school, arriving just in time for 6AM set up.

I recognize my Inspector immediately. He is wearing a polo shirt that is the color and design of an American flag, but with a bald eagle on a motorcycle. He has a metallic dark blue cane and is posting up a polling place sign. I know there are other Inspectors at this location, but believe without any doubt that his voice will match the one I heard on the phone a few days ago.

Working at the polling place is simple. I had never worked at the polls a day in my life, but refused to let the two hours I spent training at the senior citizens center go to waste. My Inspector thought I was an expert; turns out, I’m just a good listener. Everything is set up quickly and efficiently.

When the polls open an hour later, I’ve already finished my first cup of coffee.

The first person to walk in for our precinct is a regular voter; when he enters the room, it is just after 7AM. When he signs his name the beginning is faded because the pen has yet to become acquainted with the paper of the roster. The next voter does not arrive for at least another fifteen minutes, and my guess is that the polls are taking a while to warm up.

Monte Vista’s janitor walks in, a man with tattoos on the backs of his forearms and a greying beard. As he looks at the machine that counts up the ballots, he talks about technology and how it created a gap in the workforce. I tune in late to the conversation. I infer what’s already been said by his last remarks:

“So, I got a job that a computer can’t do. I work with my hands. A computer can’t move tables, scrub toilets, wipe up vomit.”

Voting is slow, to put it lightly. The Street Index clerk mentions that we haven’t had a single voter on a major street. This isn’t too surprising to me; our precinct is surrounded by a fair amount of smaller, residential streets. I’m more surprised by the fact that in some blocks of time, I can count the number of voters we get in an hour on one hand. It makes me pause.

What I can say about the people who vote is that they’re remarkable- mainly senior citizens who hobble in and can’t hear half of the words I’m saying. I remember to speak louder and slower. Sample ballots in hand, they take their time getting to the voting booth. They tell me they’ve been voting for years. In my head, I translate that into decades.

Decades, I think. Voting for more years than I’ve been alive. Later, the Inspector and Street Index clerk will talk about the years they’ve seen; assassinations (Kennedy, King, Malcolm X), war (Vietnam), and plenty of elections. They’re desensitized to images of war and gore; skeptical of what they hear in the media. I think of how we don’t even have the chance to be desensitized, how we’re not only kept from information of drone strikes in Pakistan and exploitation of Afghan lands, but we’re lost in our own version of conspicuous consumption, summarized in .gifs by pointless Buzzfeed articles. Our generation does not vote. We don’t know what it means.

At first, this realization is gentle. I know there are things I cannot change, and that if I can, it will be slow and steady. Part of me is thankful that we are not jolted into becoming another generation that lives on rations during war. Yet the other part knows that this is the generation that currently holds a great deal of power in voting electorates. The Baby Boomers are walking into my polling place, come hell or high water, and they are voting. This does not bother me.

Older married couples walk in, arms linked. Others have canes or power chairs. Some merely walk slow and take their time getting to the voting booth. It is only when a blind man walks in that I begin to feel angry.

Other countries experience rigged elections and are trapped in oppressive regimes while we complain of corruption in politics and sit on the sidelines. We don’t even know the beginning of the corruption iceberg. American government condemns countries for having manipulated elections while candidates and elected officials accept unsettling amounts of money for their political campaigns, only to have minuscule turnouts. The so-called fundraising game is spent on a populace that thinks we’re too far gone to do anything.

The polls close at 8PM, and I make sure our numbers match up. We have under 100 ballots. Perhaps around 5% of the precinct has voted. Later, I am told that the news said all day that no one was at the polls. The argument is brought up that perhaps more people are voting by mail, but I dismiss the idea instantaneously.

I think of the blind man, carefully listening to his ballot being read to him. I think of the people who can hardly walk into the polling place, yet smile at me when they leave, “I Voted” sticker on their chest. I wonder if, fifty years from now, we will even having polling places.

Fifteen hours since I first put it on, I take my election clerk name tag off, and set it on my desk. I think of the people who have changed history with their votes, and belatedly wish they were here.