Please Don’t Die of Alcohol Poisoning During Tonight’s Debate

Has there ever been a more violent low five in the entire history of low fives?

Has there ever been a more violent low five in the entire history of low fives?

Tonight’s GOP presidential debate will undoubtedly be interesting*. You can’t get Donald Trump and the scions of the Paul and Bush families into the same room without something noteworthy happening, in a ghastly sort of this-is-so-terrible-my-brain-is-interpreting-it-as-entertaining sort of way. John Kasich is itching for a fight. Chris Christie is practicing being extra-loud. Jeb Bush has been floundering in the polls and in fundraising, and he’s getting ready to target Marco Rubio. Rand Paul basically doesn’t exist anymore. Donald Trump is running second to Ben Carson. There will be fireworks, and attacks, and all sorts of ugliness. I’ll be live-tweeting the whole debate on the Civic Skunk Works Twitter feed.

But as the first Democratic debate of the year proved, all that hoopla over who’s yelling at which person and why doesn’t really matter. Tonight’s debate is supposed to be about jobs and the economy. Whenever Republican presidential candidates get together to talk about the economy, the clown shoes come out and the baloney starts flying. The problem is that every single candidate on that stage—every candidate, without exception—is running on the same failed trickle-down economic narrative that has been around since the Reagan administration. You’d think a crowd that diverse—from sitting senators to long-since-retired governors to real estate magnates to brain surgeons—would be able to come up with at least one single good, new idea. But no.

So here are some drinking game rules for tonight’s debate:

  • DO A SHOT whenever a candidate says lowering taxes on the wealthy will help the middle class.
  • If a candidate calls raising taxes on the wealthy “redistribution,” DRINK AS MANY OF YOUR NEIGHBORS’ DRINKS AS YOU CAN.
  • DRAIN YOUR BEER whenever a candidate says cutting regulations will result in more jobs.
  • ORDER A MARTINI when a candidate refuses to support raising the minimum wage.
  • DRINK THE MARTINI when a candidate says that cutting the corporate tax rate is better for workers than a minimum wage.
  • DRINK A FLAMING SHOT when someone says a minimum wage hurts workers.
  • DO A SHOT OF PURE RYE when someone suggests that economic policies which favor the rich actually help everyone.
  • If someone says environmental regulations are killing the economy, DRINK SOMETHING LOCALLY SOURCED AND SMALL-BATCH.
  • DO A JAEGER BOMB if someone’s job creation pitch involves the Keystone Pipeline.
  • When someone says the deficit is killing jobs, DRINK A GIN AND TONIC AND THEN EAT THE LIME GARNISH WHOLE.
  • I could keep going, but the truth is that if you played by these rules, you’d probably be dead within thirty minutes of the first question of the debate.

    Look, the trickle down story is absolute bunk. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. We’ve got more than thirty years of data proving that if you give money to the top one percent, they’ll keep it and demand more. The middle class are the true job creators in the American economy, but the odds are good that they’ll only be mentioned a handful of times tonight, if they’re mentioned at all. Tonight’s debate will bring some clashes and some unintentional comedy, but the one thing it’s sure to deliver is more of the same tired old economics talk conservatives have been handing us for most of our natural lives.

    * Well, the big kids’ table debate will be interesting. The earlier kids’ table debate with Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum will be kind of weird but mostly boring and occasionally terrifying.

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    Paul Constant
    Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.