In response to the second Republican presidential primary debate, which aired Wednesday to reduced ratings and a lot of ridicule, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had a simple question for the participating candidates: “What are you trying to do?”
Because as Hayes sees it, none of the candidates have done or said anything to differentiate themselves from clear GOP front-runner Donald Trump, much less overtake his lead.
Hayes began by noting that the Republican house majority’s failure to find evidence of any wrongdoing by President Joe Biden in their disastrous impeachment inquiry “is a perfect illustration of the congressional Republicans complete lack of a governing vision, other than their fidelity to Donald Trump.”
But, Hayes continued, Wednesday’s debate “was an even more devastating portrayal of that same problem.”
Trump, Hayes noted, “has a very clear political vision. He wants to dismantle American democracy and replace it with an autocracy run by himself. He wants to purge the government of anyone who has fidelity to the Constitution and replace them with loyalists who pledge fidelity to him.”
Reminding viewers that the debate was held at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, Hayes played a clip from Reagan’s groundbreaking “Morning Again in America” ad from the 1984 campaign.
“It’s a good ad, every time I see it, it’s a good ad,” Hayes said. “Now the actuality that vision was far less than it seemed, but it was a vision, which is what made last night’s debate in the Reagan Library so striking. There was no vision.”
“This was supposed to be the chance to articulate a competing alternative to Trumpism,” Hayes continued, noting how Trump once again skipped the debate for a campaign event, speaking to a nonunion business in Detroit, an event that was frequently incorrectly described as being a speech to autoworkers. It also generated as much if not more press than the debate.
“What is your alternative to that? You are running for president against Trump. What does conservatism after Trump look like? What is your plan to rebuild the coalition that allowed him to narrowly win the electoral college?” Hayes asked of the primary debate participants.
“The only thing they seem to relish talking about, other than crime a bit, is militarizing the border, going to war with Mexico, which, of course is just part of Trump’s political project. So it doesn’t distinguish you. I mean, is it any wonder these candidates failed to leave a positive impression?” Hayes said, before playing a clip of debate viewers criticizing the participants.
“What are you trying to do non-Trump conservatives? What are you trying to do? That’s my question. What are you trying to do? What is your vision? What are you describing to people as the vision for conservative governance, Donald Trump has got an answer. His answer is to make Donald Trump a dictator. What is your vision? Because right now, you have nothing. And you cannot beat something with nothing,” Hayes concluded.
Watch the clip here: