I know you're skeptical about the political process. You're thinking of tuning into the GOP debate to poke fun at Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates. You want to scowl at the TV every time these candidates say something offensive, and you want to go rant about them on social media afterward. In all honesty, so do I. I'll sit down with a giant slice of deep dish and wonder, "Are Republican voters who can actually vote in the primaries — which aren't even happening for another five months — watching this debate?" But whatever disparaging remarks you might wish to make, and understandably so, there are some important reasons to watch the Fox News Republican primary debate on Thursday.
If you're anything like me, you're often drawn into a social media vacuum that caters to your political views. It's hard to break out of that bubble and remember that opposing points of view exist — and that those opposing points of view can actually strengthen your own beliefs, if you take the time to assess them. But that's just one reason to tune into the debate. I want to give you several more, because while it's easy to say that you should listen to people who don't agree with you, it makes more sense for me to say that you should watch the candidates debate topics you care about.
1. They Will Probably Talk About Planned Parenthood
Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have both been very vocal in their support of a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, with Paul co-introducing the proposed legislation ahead of Monday's failed vote. If you want to #StandWithPP, you should know what we're up against. Don't forget that back in 2011, efforts to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding almost resulted in a government shutdown, and Republicans are threatening to do it again. It would be wise to hear what the candidates have to say on the subject now.
2. Trump Says He's Not An Experienced Debater
Talking to ABC News on Sunday, Trump responded to a question from Jonathan Karl by explaining that he does not anticipate attacking his fellow candidates on stage during the debate, and that he is not much of a debater himself.
These politicians, I always say, are all talk no action. They debate all the time. I don’t debate, I build. I've created tremendous jobs, I've created a great company. Maybe my whole life is a debate in a way, but the fact is I’m not a debater, and they are. With that being said, I look forward to it, we’ll see what happens.
For all his talk about needing a "strong tone" when approaching issues like immigration, the fact of the matter is that Trump has never been in a debate like this before. So it will be interesting to see how well he is able to defend his controversial viewpoints from candidates who have made attacking him a sport in order to boost their own favorability.
3. Education Is A Hot-Button Issue
Many millennials are either in college right now or preparing to go, and while Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to make college tuition-free for students, he's not the only one with big plans surrounding tuition costs. Paul in particular is interested in letting "college students deduct the cost of their education over their working career," and we should not be so quick to write off Republicans' positions on higher education. Millennials should pay particular attention to this issue during the debate. Even if you can't vote in the GOP primaries, it would be valuable to see what each of the candidates has in store for the American education system.
4. You Can Be An Informed Voter
The Democratic Party has way too much fun mocking the Republican Party — see "Retrumplican Party" for more — but that doesn't mean we can write off the entire conservative part of our government as a waste of our time. After all, there are Democrats who could do better, too. Skepticism of the political process leads a lot of millennials to decide not to vote, which is understandable. But because we have resources like this debate available to us, we ought to take advantage of them in order to understand what the key issues are and how we are personally implicated in them.
I never thought I would say this, but tune in to Fox News on Thursday night. Hopefully, the debate will yield some valuable information about issues like immigration, climate change, reproductive healthcare, and education — and help us learn a thing or two about where the numerous Republican candidates stand.
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