“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Tonight in Cleveland is the first Republican presidential debate and even though Fox News – your fair and balanced host for the evening – cut the field of 17 down to the 10 most inspiring possible future leaders of America, it’s still going to be a fairly large shitshow.

Donald Trump will be going in with the confidence of the lead-horse position and every other candidate’s campaign manager has had to spend the past few weeks making a “How to debate a drunk person Donald Trump” packet instead of preparing for this the way they might have liked to#. Not to mention lead moderator and professional hardass Chris Wallace promises some “doozies”, and he’s going to be flanked by this lady:

Nevertheless, it’s important to watch this thing. And not just because you’re playing along with one of the many, totally original, very creative ‘GOP debate drinking games’ that have clogged your social media feeds all day.

As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently put it, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people,” and tonight the candidates are going to have to address some actual issues. They’re going to have to present real answers to questions about things like Planned Parenthood, civil rights, and immigration, and whether you agree with their responses or not, it’s important to know what vision for America they foresee. When you hear them promise to repeal Obamacare, it’s important to know what alternative they’re suggesting so that you can know what holes to begin poking#. Hell, you might just agree with Rand Paul’s opinions about education and student loan debt reform if you heard him out, scary as that may seem.

This is how we combat political polarity.

Polarization

This is how we begin to find common ground and how we build the foundations for compromise. If we’re never going to expand our cripplingly restrictive two-party system, then at a bare minimum we can make sure we’re not boxing ourselves in information silos so cavernous that we lose all semblance of objectivity.

And we can’t just go relying on our Facebook and Twitter feeds to give us the highlights because then we’re just walling ourselves off in those silos again.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 10.43.02 AM

We already have to deal with the ‘Backfire effect’#, which suggests that even in the face of hard facts we don’t like going against our firmly held beliefs, but at the very least we as individuals can try and put all these competing ideologies into our own respective perspectives. We owe it to ourselves to turn all this knowledge into understanding.

It’s what breeds empathy, which in turn fosters unity.

President Barack Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie upon his arrival at Atlantic City International Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Atlantic City, NJ. Obama traveled to the region to take an aerial tour of the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey in areas damaged by superstorm Sandy,  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

If you want to be not just a good Democrat but a good American, you’ll at least watch the replay of the GOP debate on YouTube tomorrow morning. It’s what Obama needs from you.

Plus don’t you want to see what idiotic thing comes out of this asshole’s mouth?

Ted Cruz