November 9, 2015

RUBASHKIN | May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor

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Ben Carson has come under heavy fire from the media this week. Such an occurrence is to be expected, given the neurosurgeon’s ascendency to frontrunner status in the circus that is the Republican primary process. The vetting process is a standard step in the coverage of relatively unknown candidates. Less standard are the actions for which Dr. Carson has had to defend himself. In the past several days, the good doctor clarified multiple times that he indeed does believe that the Great Pyramids were constructed not by the Pharaohs as tombs, but by the biblical Joseph as grain silos. It goes without saying that conniving pranksters (most likely the same “scientists” who perpetuate the myth of global warming) planted those troublesome mummies centuries later. He also had to defend his assertion that he had been offered a full scholarship to West Point, when in reality he had not even applied to the school.

That is not all. Over the weekend, Ben Carson found himself trying to convince the world that he did indeed stab or attempt to stab his friend as a teenager. Carson has used this incident to counter circus ringmaster Donald Trump’s accusation that he is “low energy.” Whether or not this is an effective strategy is an open question, but it ran into some trouble when CNN reported that the stabbing claim was unsubstantiated and quite possibly fabricated. Hence, we have the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination on national TV assuring the public that he did, indeed, violently attack his friend as a self-confessed unhinged teenager.

Carson’s story, coupled with Donald Trump’s repeated reminders that he has a concealed carry license and Chris Christie’s propensity to challenge every heckler to a sumo-wrestling match highlight the Republican Party’s violent inclinations. Considering all of this, I have a modest proposal. Instead of hosting any more debates, we implement Hunger Games-style events. Let’s face it: The debates have become useless. There are too many candidates to have any sort of substantive discussion, and all the candidates do is beat up on the media and dodge hard questions. Some of the candidates (looking at you, Ted Cruz) don’t even want to engage their opponents, despite the fact that the nomination process is inherently adversarial in nature.

Bear with me on this one. Though this might seem ridiculous on the surface, I believe a series of Hunger Games-style contests would be far more illuminating than a series of meaningless debates where the candidates practically write the questions they want to be asked. Instead of placing the candidates behind lecterns in air conditioned auditoriums, throw them out into the wilderness. Sure, Rand Paul preaches pacifist foreign policy when he has a box of energy bars stashed behind his lectern, but what would he do when Chris Christie attempts to raid his forest hideout to steal his last remaining provisions in the presidential Hunger Games?

It’s safe to assume Senator Paul would not last very long in the games. His opposition to intelligence collection would put him at a distinct disadvantage and his aversion to military power would leave him quite defenseless. Eventually he would stumble on some wild cannabis sativa and take himself out commission.

And what about Jeb “Bob the Builder, Can We Fix It?” Bush? Though he is already accustomed to restricted dieting, having spent the last year or so on the Paleo diet, the former Florida governor would find that his apathetic approach to campaigning does him no favors in the Arena. No one would ever accuse Katniss Everdeen of being “low energy.” That being said, he would keep competitive by using his extensive sponsor network. The packages sent by his wealthy benefactors would allow him to continue to hide meekly in a tree and occasionally throw bananas at Marco Rubio whenever he passed by. Eventually his lackluster performance would bore those very same benefactors, and after they abandoned him one by one, it would become clear his total lack of charisma and drive makes him entirely unsuitable to be president.

But what of the candidates who really matter? Donald Trump is no stranger to reality TV, but these games would be far different from the manufactured boardrooms he is used to occupying. He is by trade a real estate man, so no doubt he would find the best piece of the Arena to establish his base. From the moment he arrived, he would relentlessly threaten and attack his opponents. Soon enough, they would realize that the Donald is full of hot air, and with a little pushback he would be easily popped.

Perhaps the most dangerous of the candidates would be Dr. Carson himself. He appears so unassuming. He’s a doctor! He saves lives! He talks so slowly he could be delivering a speech at one of Treebeard’s Entmoots. No one would ever expect the innocent doctor to be capable of ruthlessly dispatching his opponents. But this is a man who a) may or may not have stabbed his friend in a fit of rage on the streets of Detroit and b) who is specially trained to cut people’s heads open. This is a dangerous man. Once you hear his quiet monotone lulling you to sleep, it’s already over for you, and if you somehow manage to block out his chloroform-like voice, you may very well find yourself lying on the ground with a perfectly-placed scalpel in your cranium.

All jokes aside, I believe there is a very strong argument for placing the candidates outside of their comfort zones. If being president were easy, elections wouldn’t be a big deal. Presidents don’t get to make a list of demands regarding global and domestic conditions before they take office. If they want to do something, they actually have to do it; they can’t just say that they’re going to. It’s a jungle out there in the real world, a jungle that bears little to no resemblance to the tightly controlled universe that the debates exist in. People can say anything when they feel in control and at ease, but it is what they do when they are nervous, surprised or uncertain that shows their true natures. I don’t want a president who can “win a debate” by attacking a moderator. I want a president that I can trust to remain calm, decisive and effective when all hell breaks loose. So goodbye Wolf Blitzer and hello Caesar Flickerman. I’ll take Hunger Games over “Town Hall Forum” any day of the week.

Jacob Rubashkin is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at jrubashkin@cornellsun.com. The Jacobin appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

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