(Disclaimer: This Editorial focuses solely on GOP candidates, due to the fact that the Democrats have not yet had a debate. This is not meant as an endorsement of any political ideology, party or candidate)
It’s undeniable that Donald Trump, since entering the GOP primary, has been a figure as decisive as he is bombastic and outspoken. He has managed to anger everyone from the Latino community to his own party with his statements, and has become a punchline in the media and comedy sphere. Nowhere was this truer than in the first GOP debate, in which the moderators seemed to personally have picked out Trump as a target for some of the most savage and pointed questions of the night, in hopes of catching him in another blunder.
What they did instead is illustrate how it’s time to stop using Trump as our go to punching bag.
I’ll be frank, I think what Trump has said in the past was ignorant, offensive and just plain stupid. But to act as if he’s the only one on the stage in Cleveland that night who had said or done incredibly ignorant and stupid things is not only patently false, but spares those candidates the walloping they, like Trump, have rightly brought upon themselves.
Take for example Arkansas Governor, serial presidential candidate, and professional placer of feet in mouths, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has, in the past, openly mocked the transgender community in a manner that was perhaps more offensive even than Trump’s comments on Mexican Americans; not only that, but in May Huckabee openly pledged his support for an admitted pedophile and rapist, stating that his actions were “forgivable.” Are these not equally ripe topics for questioning?
Or take for example Governor Chris Christie, whose involvement in the Fort Lee Bridge scandal, while alleged, has weighed heavily on his polling numbers since it occurrence in 2013. This was never mentioned, and instead, Christie was attacked for the fabricated “scandal” of working with the elected president of the United States after his state was hit with a catastrophic hurricane.
Senator Rand Paul has been accused and found guilty numerous times of serious plagiarism, and, just recently saw former campaign staffers of his father’s campaign (as well as good friends and supporters of his) investigated and charged by the FBI for bribing an elected U.S. official in order to gain his support.
Jeb Bush, who is running second in the polls behind Trump, was indeed hit with a few questions regarding his brother’s presidency, and regarding the dynastic nature of his run, but even he was spared the absolute assault that was launched on Trump.
In the end, every candidate on stage was a potential punching bag; they all could have been hit with questions of varying harshness that would have forced them to speak to their past statements, mistakes and issues. But instead, whether it due to a personal vendetta or simply for ratings, Trump became the target of choice, while the rest escaped with minor cuts and bruises (for the most part)
And so it is time. It’s time to treat Trump like any other candidate, to hit him with the hard questions, but not at the expense of sparing the others. Because of all the things Donald Trump is/may be (a bigot, an egomaniac, a shrewd, cynical and potentially mildly criminal businessman) he is far from the only man on stage with dirt on his hands. And to deny this by omission is not only unprofessional, but also downright irresponsible.