Written by JoJo Phillips
Near the end of the second Republican presidential debate, CNN’s Jake Tapper lobbed a slow and easy softball up to the candidates: “Earlier this year the Treasury Department announced that a woman will appear on the $10 bill. What woman would you like to see on the $10 bill?”
Tapper’s query looked like a softball but there must have been some hidden curve. Some of the names thrown out were Margaret Thatcher, Mother Theresa, Mike Huckabee’s wife Janet, Ben Carson’s mom Sonya, second president John Adams’ wife Abigail, and not to be left out: Ivanka Trump (Donald’s daughter who, unfortunately, was not the pick of newly energized Jeb Bush).
Republican candidates…have a hard time picking a woman who exemplifies independent leadership, exploration, or innovation and would vote for them.
Setting the two Europeans and their obvious complications aside (primarily lacking American citizenship), it’s worrisome to note that these other suggestions were all women whose primary accomplishments were described as caregiving. Huckabee stated that his wife should be selected for “putting up with him”, Carson emphasized his mother’s ability to care for her children, and Christie made the point that John Adams could not have aided in the founding of America without the dutiful nature of Abigail. Even Scott Walker’s choice, although not a direct family member, continued this trend. He chose Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross and consequently one of the most famous caregiver in American history.
There is certainly nothing at all wrong or unheroic with choosing a life of giving care to others but these narrow responses do elicit a worrisome thought. It is a conceivable thought that any of the republican candidates would have a hard time picking a woman who exemplifies independent leadership, exploration, or innovation and would vote for them.
Rand Paul, who opened the discussion, suggested Susan B. Anthony, which by all means would be an excellent choice if she hadn’t been adamantly opposed to wage gaps. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had an answer when they selected Rosa Parks. A national hero with strong morals who stood up against racial injustice, Rosa would be perfect if she hadn’t happened to sit on the board for Planned Parenthood. Of course, the GOP candidates could have gone in a different direction. What about Sally Ride, the first woman in space? This would work but Sally Ride is openly homosexual. It’s frustrating to think that this country hasn’t given a woman the opportunity to be America’s Margaret Thatcher. Carly Fiorina, the lone female candidate, refused even to answer the question in a classic political response that straddled the fence between sounding pro-woman whilst assuaging the traditionalist Republican base.
Although the general youth of America has become increasingly disengaged from politics, the Republican party has suffered greater losses than the Democrats.
All of these responses are particularly toxic in this current day and age. Although the general youth of America has become increasingly disengaged from politics, the Republican party has suffered greater losses than the Democrats. College students are especially turned off by non-progressive attitudes and status quo arguments. Here at the University of Texas, a progressive institution squarely in the middle of progressive Austin, the Republican candidates are more a subject of hilarity than political discussion. Freshman International Relations major Cade Stone said “sometimes when [the candidates] are talking I’ll just tune them out… they engage in apolitical discourse half the time.” It is not only the fact that the candidates frequently spout controversial statements, it is that they recurrently refuse to address real issues. When asked about the 10$ bill question, BME student Aakash Saraiya replied “to be honest I wasn’t paying attention at first because it was such an easy question, but when I heard Margaret Thatcher and Ivanka Trump get thrown out there I thought I had switched the channel to SNL by accident.” Saraiya simply couldn’t believe the nominees would mess that one up; somehow they did.
Jake Tapper managed to strike out every single candidate on stage in what was supposed to be the home run derby portion of the evening. Perhaps the Republic nominees were simply continuing the trend of swinging too hard.