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Let's Debate the Democratic Debate!

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

Being a debate site, I only thought it was appropriate that I FINALLY had a blog post on the Democratic Primary debates (we’ve had a few already--is this primary season over yet?) Fortunately, although the request was last minute, the following contributors decided to help me out. They all sent to me their preliminary thoughts and expectations before watching the fifth debate and their initial reactions post debate. 

    I also asked for reactions from the following day after they had some time to think things through. One thing I have really become interested in lately is how our arguments and ideas change after we have walked away from them and mulled the thoughts over a little bit. What does reflection do to one’s opinion? How can we encourage such reflection more often? 

     Okay, that philosophical thought experiment will have to be for another day! In the meantime, please mull over the myriad contributions and perspectives found below. Thank you Ruthmarie Hicks and  Markus Dazkal for your willingness to participate and add your thoughts. 

Initial thoughts

Ruthmarie Hicks

    First, full disclosure: Iam a progressive Democrat who did NOT vote for Hillary Clinton. She was too corporate and was going to win NYS w/o me anyway. I would have voted for Sanders.

If the cast of characters on stage tonight, I have two concerns: 

1. I’m looking for more daylight between Warren and Sanders. I am for Sanders as things stand now, but I want to hear more from Warren about MedicareForAll because I think she’s waffling. For me personally, this could be a matter of life or death. I finally was forced to drop my crappy ACA insurance this year because it was simply unaffordable.

     I do like the way Warren is anti- corruption. Her background as a bankruptcy lawyer means that she knows where the bodies are buried. The talking heads of finance can’t talk over her head like they can with so many politicians, and certainly the general public. She knows as much - or more than they do.

     I will be watching for insight on that topic. However, if you have ever seen her with a banking mogul on YouTube, it’s obvious they can’t pull the wool over her eyes.

Sanders has been a more consistent liberal, but the thing I like about him is that he has the capacity to use the bully pulpit effectively. This is vital for bringing badly needed change to the country. I want to hear more about the Green New Deal and housing. This is a great combination to blend the two and it’s interesting how joined up w AOC.

     I’m looking carefully at Joe Biden. I sense that his son’s death really did a number on him. I’m worried about his all-around competence for the rigors of a campaign. Ironically, I think Bernie is in much better shape than him.

As for Buttigieg, he needs to explain how his big new corporate backing had nothing to do with his jumping away from MFA like it was a red-hot oven. I’m waiting with baited breath as to how he dances around that.

Moderates also have to explain how their live affair with corporate $$$ will never have any influence on their policy decisions. 

For the moderates in general, I want to hear how their incrementalism can ever bring the desperately needed change to the economy, healthcare, and the environmental emergency we now face.  My feeling is that the incrementalism they seek has more to do with keeping the corporate gravy train running than it has to do with “the art of the possible”.

     We have been trying to “reach across the aisle to Republicans for over 30 years now. All it has done is force BOTH parties to the right.

     Why on earth do they think that being “realistic” through compromise is going to work now? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Markus Daszkal 

1) It's absolutely ridiculous that we will still have ten candidates on the stage. They should have either tightened the requirements, or split it into two nights - with the top 5 candidates on the first night, and the rest on the second. There is so much at stake and we are not finding a way to get down to a manageable number of candidates so that we can have a real debate. I don't see how a candidate can make their case when being given 10 minutes or less across a 2 hour event. This favors the best-known candidates and harms those who are trying to become better known.

2) All that being said - I expect Buttigieg to be targeted tonight. When you are leading in the polls in the early states, that's going to come with the territory. I can think of a few areas that are likely to come up. If I were running Kamala Harris' campaign, I think I'd challenge him on his record with black people in his city - firstly, because it's a very legitimate topic, and secondly, because why not? She needs some traction and might as well take some chances right now.

3) Biden won't go after Buttigieg - if he can't win Iowa or NH, he's likely hoping Buttigieg does. That blocks Warren from getting momentum coming into Nevada and especially SC, and Biden is betting that Buttigieg won't cut into his black support very much.  I'd bet on that too.

4) Tulsi Gabbard will be Tulsi Gabbard.  Who knows what the hell she'll do?

5) Warren and Sanders should be interesting.  His campaign has not been as friendly to her as he claims to be. Will he ding her for backing off trying to do M4A right away, if elected?  I'd bet yes.

Immediate Reactions

Ruthmarie Hicks

     My first impressions solidify my positions as to who I will vote for in the primary. I will vote for Sanders. If for some reason he drops out, I will vote for Warren. However, I’m not going to play the “Indivisible” game  centrists tell me I “must” play. Barring a significant change in what I see from these candidates, if anyone other than Sanders or Warren are on the top of the ticket, I will not vote for a Democrat in 2020.

     Most of the rest are drenched incorporate cash up to their navels and it is influencing policy discussions already. You can see them doing a Kabuki dance around that reality.

Steyer is correct. Both parties are owned lock, stock and barrel by big money.

     I disagree with the premise that big things can’t be done and everything good will come to those who compromise. We’ve been doing that for the last 40 years since Reagan took office. How’s that working out for you?