In Their Second Debate, GOP Candidates Had Nothing to Say to Young People

By Joelle Gamble |

If you watched the full Republican debate last night, congratulations. You deserve a prize for making it through a marathon that lacked the kind of substantive policy discussion our country deserves. It took nearly 30 minutes of debating candidate personalities before a single policy question was asked, and when issues were discussed, candidates quickly turned to campaign rhetoric rather than policy details in their answers. Rather than celebrating complexity and solutions, the debate became an ode to celebrity. At one point, Governor Kasich even stated, “If I were sitting at home and watching this back and forth, I would be inclined to turn it off.”

Young people across this country refuse to engage in and support such unproductive political theater. As the largest voting demographic in the 2016 election, we are not swayed by grandiose gestures or appeals to fear-driven policymaking. We understand the complexities of the problems our country faces because, unlike many of the politicians on the debate stage, we are living them today. We want and need to hear their solutions—solutions that will help all of us.

Rather than appealing to fear with tired policy tropes—like building a border wall or trying to control women’s health decisions—we want to take on real issues that reimagine the social and economic rules that govern our nation. Things such as:

  • The loss of innocent lives through police violence and an unjust criminal justice system
  • Conflict and climate-induced human rights crises happening across the globe
  • Runaway economic inequality in which prosperity only reaches the wealthiest Americans
  • Educational systems with high prices and low impact on student preparedness for a changing workforce

Above all, young people want to be a part of the process. We are more than a voting bloc to be swayed one way or another. We have ideas about what it will take to move this country forward. That’s why, at theRoosevelt Network, we’re building a Blueprint to demonstrate just that. We believe that the rules need to be rewritten and that it matters who rewrites them—in other words, that we matter.

Joelle Gamble is the National Director of the Roosevelt Network.

Joelle Gamble is Senior Advisor to the President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute and National Director of the Roosevelt network.