Papastefan: Republican revival ahead of schedule


Grant Papastefan, Columnist

Last week I wrote about how, with the impending election of Paul Ryan for House Speaker and the number of young, capable Republican politicians poised for success, America’s right wing is on the verge of a renaissance. One week later, with Rep. Paul Ryan now officially Speaker Paul Ryan and another GOP debate behind us, it is especially clear that the future of the party is bright. Wednesday’s debate on CNBC told us a lot about the GOP, not just in terms of policy, but also in terms of unity and maturity, and it now seems as if the new Republican Party may have arrived earlier than expected.

There is no doubt the moderators of Wednesday’s debate had every intention of making a farce of the Republican Party. From the first question it was clear that moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood were determined to take the Republican candidates down a notch, starting by asking the candidates to identify their greatest weakness. This was an inappropriate way to start a debate, setting a negative tone and entirely ignoring the main purpose of the debate: fiscal policy. The questions only got worse from there, with Donald Trump accused of running a comic-book version of a campaign, and Quintanilla asking Carly Fiorina if her intention to cut the tax plan from more than 70,000 pages to just three involved using “really small type.” Then, as if the question was not disruptive enough the first time, Quintanilla asked it again when she did not respond. These are just a handful of a number of examples of media bias in Wednesday’s debate. However, what separated this debate from all the others was that, instead of letting the moderators pit them against each other, the candidates united, quickly putting the moderators in line and focusing on policy issues rather than personal attacks.

After Sen. Ted Cruz went on an impassioned rant about the unfairness of the moderator’s questions and other candidates echoed his concerns, the moderators actually started asking real questions, which allowed the candidates to advertise their ideas and show a sense of unity within the party.

In addition, the candidates’ aversion to personal attacks presented a sense of civility that was not present in previous debates. This was particularly important for the party: In a field with nearly four times as many candidates as their Democratic opponents, Republicans cannot afford to waste the relatively little amount of speaking time they have arguing over petty non-issues. While Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — who each got nearly 30 minutes of speaking time in the most recent Democratic debate — can afford to waste some time, the Republican candidates, who got just about eight to 10 minutes apiece on Wednesday, need every minute they can get to differentiate themselves and present their visions.

So what does this mean for the future of the GOP? Well, a lot. The backlash from Republican candidates during Wednesday’s debate was not just a powerful protest against media bias; it was a realization that, in order to stand a chance in the 2016 general election, the Republican Party must change the way it conducts itself. It was recognition of the fact that, with so many people in politics and media attempting to stand in the way of the Republican Party, the last thing the party can afford to do is get in its own way.

Most of all, it was a statement to the American people that the Republican Party is ready to work together, attack the issues instead of one another and help hard-working Americans find their way back to the path to prosperity. One week ago, the Republican Party was a torn establishment dominated by radical factions. Now, although the process is far from complete, it is transforming into a cohesive party united behind a young Speaker of the House. Though Halloween is behind us, Democrats should be frightened by what the future holds, because the new Republican Party has arrived earlier than expected, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Grant Papastefan is a Bienen freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.