I realize that, for many of you, watching a political debate is the last thing on your mind. You may be busy, or you may be uninterested in politics. Perhaps you are thinking, “Republican Debate? Why on earth would I want to watch that?” Well, I’m glad you asked! I’m going to give you five reasons that you should watch this upcoming Republican debate tonight on CNN.
1: This may sadden you if you are a Clinton or Sanders supporter, but let’s face it: the general election is probably a coin flip. There is about a 50 percent chance that somebody in this debate will be the next President of the United States. Now, there are third-party candidates, and I’m not discounting them altogether, but in our current political climate, the odds are very slim that someone who is not a Democrat or a Republican wins the Presidency. Also, one more tidbit: the last three times we elected a new President, they alternated parties (Clinton, Bush, Obama). Is this fact small and insignificant? Perhaps. It’s worth noting, however.
2: You may want to vote for one of these candidates. Perhaps you are a die-hard Republican who wants to find a candidate to back. Perhaps you are an independent who just wants to see what these people have to say. Perhaps you are a Democrat disenchanted by the last seven years of the Obama administration. No matter what your background, watching these candidates debate is a great way to determine who you want to vote for. If you are a Republican, you will probably want to vote for one of them in the primary. If you are an independent, you may learn more about some of these candidates and decide that you will vote for one of them if they win. Or, you may decide that you really don’t want that person running our country. Either way, this is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the candidates. If you are a Democrat, maybe you don’t want four more years of an Obama-like administration, and maybe you think Bernie Sanders is too liberal for you. Perhaps you will like what some of the Republican candidates are saying. Granted, they aren’t exactly campaigning for your vote (yet). This is a primary, and their goal is to look as conservative as possible. Still, you may like something one candidate says, and decide to vote for them, or despise something another candidate says, and be reminded why you vote Democrat.
3: It’s a great way to get introduced to the American political process. Emory has a lot of international students, so maybe you are from another country, and you are unfamiliar with the American political process. It is different than in many other countries, where you may have a parliamentary body elect the Prime Minister. In some cases, you may not come from a democratic country, so this may be your first opportunity to see a democratic election process unfold. Now, you may not be able to vote, but the knowledge you can gain from watching these candidates argue with one another could be quite valuable. Issues in America are far different than issues in other parts of the world. For example, whereas many other countries have centralized governments, in America, states wield a considerable amount of power, and the dynamic between federal power and states’ rights is a debate that has existed in America almost since the country was founded. Or, you may be from America, but have never paid attention to politics. This debate could help you to understand today’s Republican Party.
4: You may change your vote based on this debate. Perhaps you really like a certain candidate, but then you hear him or her in this debate, and think, “Does this candidate really have that opinion on this issue?” This can help you stay informed on the candidates and what they believe. It is important, however, to research what actions they have taken on these issues instead of merely taking them for their word. Remember, these are politicians. They tend to lie. Still, hearing their opinion on important issues can be helpful and valuable when you decide who you are going to vote for.
5: Donald Trump. I received an e-mail from the College Republicans advertising a watch party, with Donald Trump as one of the reasons to come. Even if you don’t care one iota about politics, you know you want to watch Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, the man is entertaining. You may not want to admit it, but you really want to watch Donald Trump. Anything can happen when you give him a microphone.
Campaign season is hitting its stride, and now is a great time to get involved. So, set aside your Wednesday evening, and go to a watch party or find a TV to sit in front of to watch this debate. You don’t want to miss it.
Austin Holley is a College freshman from La Porte, Texas.