End the Small Stage Debate Farce

The small stage debates were an okay idea back when you could legitimately say that the race was wide open. But now that the race is taking a definitive shape, it’s time to end America’s misery and stop subjecting the public to the ministrations of Graham, Pataki, Santorum, et al.

Everything about these debates is contrived and farcical. The regular controversy about who is relegated to these debates and who makes the “main stage” really serves to reinforce the fact that a substantial number of Republicans who are running have absolutely no chance. Mike Huckabee’s camp is right to point out that they are statistically tied with [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] in the polls. Hell, for that matter, so is everyone on the small stage.

But what that says is not that Santorum, Graham, and Huckabee have a chance, but rather that there are people who are on the main stage who also don’t. If, after 6 months of campaigning and countless television appearances, including multiple chances in these “small stage” debates, a candidate cannot break even 3%, it’s probably more dignified to politely avert our eyes from their “campaign” as opposed to indulging their delusional fantasies of relevance.

As someone who has worked for a struggling Presidential campaign before, I’m sympathetic to the idea that candidates should get the opportunity to make their points, and to rise from the bottom tier to the top. 2012 was pretty conclusive evidence that people can make surprising moves, given a chance. But at this point, there’s no one who hasn’t been fairly heard. It’s time to stop treating some of these candidates with legitimacy.

In particular, it is time for Graham, Pataki, and Santorum to pack it up and go home. They aren’t graduating to relevance any time soon. Santorum’s campaign has actually diminished his public standing after his surprise run in 2012. It’s sad that it’s come to this, but it’s time to accept that his time as a national candidate has come and gone.

Lindsay Graham, who the media always bizarrely praises after these debates, is in fact an objectively embarrassing caricature of 2004 era George W. Bush. There’s absolutely no government intrusion into the lives of Americans he would not praise, if called upon to do so. I am all for someone who is for a strong defense and for aggressively fighting terrorism, but Lindsay Graham’s rhetoric is more out of the playbook of a propaganda minister for Nikita Kruschev than of an actual conservative Republican who cherishes freedom and liberty.

If it was up to me, there would be a “main stage” debate between Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Carson. Then, the “small stage” would be Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ], Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. Everyone else would be politely but firmly told “better luck next time.”

America deserves better than a contest that results in Graham, Pataki and Santorum being given this much free air time.