Welcome to a one-shot special edition politics thread! It's our first primary debate, and by golly is there gonna be a rumble tonight! But first, the typical ground rules for these threads.
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But what is a primary, you may ask? Or maybe you know, but you have no idea how we Americans run one. Well, in short the presidential primary is how our political parties pick their candidates for president. Since the USA has only two relevant political parties, all eyes are on the Democrats and Republicans. This is an especially important year, as the current president (Barack "The Islamic Shock" Obama) has reached his two-term limit and cannot run for reelection. As a result, the primary will feature both parties scrambling to find a suitable candidate. Thursday's debate is basically the earliest you can informally the primary to be "on" with major media coverage of a debate.
So how does the primary work? Well, in the old days primary candidates would announce about a month or two before the primary started, then each state would have some form of way to decide who they want for candidate of both parties. This varies from a vote, a caucus, and varying rules like only allowing party members to vote. The exact dates for primaries in each state vary as well, with Iowa being notable as the first, and "Super Tuesday" being in early February with a bunch of primaries going off all over the country. The end result is kinda similar to the standard POTUS election, where state winners get X delegates that will vote for them at the party's convention late in the summer. Usually the winner is a forgone conclusion going into the convention, as the losing primary runners will drop out rather than embarrass the party with the feeling of a party divided at the convention. From there, the real campaigning for POTUS begins in earnest.
That was then, and this is now! With 24/7 media coverage, presidential hopefuls are eager to get their name out there, and they figure the best way to do this is super early when nobody is there to compete with you for media coverage. How early? how about a goddamn year early in some cases like Cruz, Rubio, and Clinton. This is not without risk, however, as once you officially throw your hat in the ring you are beholden to certain laws regarding campaign finances. So other big-name candidates may be inclined to wait longer to avoid that regulation a bit longer. In fact, more cynical and enterprising people (*coughPalincough*) will intentionally hem and haw and generally waffle on whether or not they're running just to fleece their supporters for some extra donations. So now we have this weird "pre-primary" season where a bunch of people will briefly poke their heads out for a few months, embarrass themselves, and then quickly be forgotten. With the republican primary so crowded this year (over 15 candidates and counting!), it's going to be extra fun this time around. Speaking of which, how about those debaters...
Donald "The 'do" Trump
Strengths: Provides an unfiltered megaphone for hard right talking points. Not as beholden to the Washington machine as other candidates, so pretty much free to do whatever. Bombastic personality will ensure media stick cameras on him 24/7. Popular with general conservatives. Weaknesses: Provides an unfiltered megaphone for hard right talking points. Has already pissed off hispanics, the one minority group Republicans think they can possibly woo for 2016. Fairly loathed by traditional establishment Republicans, and his threats to run as a third party have done little to warm them up to him. Front-runner for primary, but very likely to lose a general since most people see him as something of a joke.
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush
Strengths: Seen as the more moderate of the Republican offerings, being part of the old guard and not really jumping into the tea party thing. A big name, which matters more when the field is so crowded. Stronger appeal to hispanics than most of his cohorts, and he has his run as governor of Florida he can always point to. Weaknesses: His last name is a political killing word. Not really doing a lot to stand out, which could be an advantage since it's less likely he'll make an ass of himself.
Scott "The Union Buster" Walker
Strengths: Has the kind of anti-union, pro-business slant that Republicans adore. Can point to winning the attempt to oust him from office as a sign of good governance. Weaknesses: Isn't quite there as a recognized name. Being recalled in the first place isn't exactly the sign of a good run as governor. Has done a lot of dickish things to workers which may turn off moderate Republicans/voters.
Mike "Ovens" Huckabee
Strengths: Is a dominionist wet dream. Folksy, laid-back personality can be charming. Weaknesses: Scary as fuck to anyone that doesn't want to live in a Christian theocracy.
Ben "Rocket Scientist" Carson
Strengths: Is a brain surgeon. One of like two people at this debate that isn't white. Weaknesses:Is a brain surgeon. Says things the Republicans like, but he has absolutely no political experience. Also, even his grasp of science is poor (creationist, into some alt medicine stuff).
Ted "Dr. Seuss" Cruz
Strengths: Has plenty of name recognition and tea party street cred by being among the more diehard members. Weaknesses: The more the tea party loves you, the more wary the establishment GOP members get. That can be bad for getting support. Chances of winning a general are...not good.
Marco "Thirsty" Rubio
Strengths: Hispanic background adds much needed diversity to the primary. Young, and seems like a more moderate part of the tea party wing. Which makes him a moderate radical? I dunno, politics are weird. Weaknesses: Made an ass of himself during a State of the Union response, which will hurt him in the eyes of the establishment. Moderate tea party is still tea party.
Rand "Bitcoin" Paul
Strengths: Your libertarian for tonight. His dad's cultists should mostly flock to him. Weaknesses: Libertarian ideals tend to clash with the Religious Right, and he's been outspoken about traditionally right-wing stuff (drones, and mucking about in the Middle East) which may hurt him.
Chris "Phantom Tollbooth" Christie
Strengths: Has a public image of a bipartisan politician by playing nice with Obama. This also helped him gain nationwide recognition, and his somewhat more moderate views may make him the one of the few alternatives to the tea party's kool-aid. Weaknesses: Bridge scandal still haunts, and his own party blames his buddy-buddy attitude with Obama as one reason for Romney's loss in 2012.
Strengths: Nobody knows him enough to remember any terrible shit he did. Weaknesses: Nobody knows him enough.
I really hate myself and have nothing better to do, so where I can join in on the fun?
The debate will be on either Fox News the channel or the Fox News site. You may need a cable provider log-in to see it on their site, I dunno. Their site says the first debate is at 5pm Eastern, but then the PRIMETIME debate is at 9pm, so who the fuck knows. Use this thread to marvel at how much of a clusterfuck a debate with 10 people can possible be. Who will Perry themselves this time! Oh the joy of the political circus!