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Let's Debate the Democratic Debate!

November 23, 2019

     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?

     What has happened in the last 40 years? The Republicans took control of the conversation and forced both parties to the far-right. As Bill Maher said about 10 years ago “over the past 30 years, the Democrats have moved to the right and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital”. Now you’ve got the inmates running the asylum.

But we have to ask why they keep getting back into power. We should not just be interested in wresting power from the Republicans for a while. We need to KEEP THEM OUT for a sustained period of time.d

Why hasn’t THAT happened?

    The problem was right on that stage for all to see. Up until now I haven’t taken Steyer that seriously. I will be doing some homework on him. However, putting Steyer aside, only Warren and Sanders addresses the corrupting impact of big money.

     The Democrats can’t sustain power because they are (in their own way) just as corrupt as the Republicans.This is making sound policies that the bottom 90% desperately need for their very survival politically impossible.

     We have record-breaking income and wealth inequality that is bringing working and middle class to its knees. If this is not turned around in a substantive way before we have another market meltdown - and that is coming - you will have rioting in the streets and perhaps a civil war. I am not exaggerating because I was formerly affluent and successful and have never recovered from 2008. Health issues and caring for a terminally ill parent which impacted career options contributed to this.

But the Democratic Party has offered NOTHING for people like me. A great big ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH. No one is addressing the flood of H1-Bs that decimated my field. No one is addressing rampant age discrimination which as hard as I tried, made changing fields almost impossible. No one is addressing the skyrocketing cost of housing, energy, and most of all, healthcare. 

     I worked long and hard for a doctorate in a very difficult field only to have the rug ripped out from under me just when I should have been reaping the rewards from years of hard work. I get NOTHING. But if you are a big bank or corporation - you get anything you want.

    Money is the problem. You are a health insurer? You have $$$. Your voice is heard. Big pharma? $$$ - Your voice is heard. Big developer? $$$ - Your voice is heard. ConEd? $$$ - how much do you want to raise rates? Sure! No problem!

     The above is a symptom of serious and systemic corruption that cuts clean across party lines.

I don’t want to hear it can’t be done. I will no longer vote for “you have to wait. Things happen gradually”. I’ve been hearing that crap since 2008! I paid in when I had money. I paid through the nose for medical insurance when I was healthy and that supported those who weren’t so fortunate. Now it’s my turn to need help and none is given. When I need help, I expect my government to give me the tools I need. I don’t want to hear “we can’t do that” when a bunch sociopaths are sitting on trillions of ill-gotten gains and our representatives in both parties sit on their hands . They do this because they are afraid to go against the billionaire class. That is the definition of corruption. The definitive sign. When doing the right thing for 90% of the population  is somehow the impossible dream.

     There are millions more like me who will not give their vote to just getting rid of Trump. You want millions of more votes? Give us more than something to vote against. Give us something to vote FOR.

Those who think this is radical need to look back on what Roosevelt did in 1933.

 

Markus Dazkal


Too many candidates on stage, like I said. The discussion is choppy and disjointed. This was a major failure by Perez. Biden started off well but tailed off as he often does. I thought it was one of the weaker nights for Warren - and for Sanders. Buttigieg wasn’t hit as much as I expected. Had some good moments but not a great night overall. Klobuchar had a strong performance and was already getting some traction in Iowa. Worth watching. Harris had a few really good moments. Will it be enough to get her some momentum? I’d like to think so but am dubious. Ditto for Booker. The others are irrelevant and shouldn’t be here.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Ruthmarie Hicks

 

     Most of the candidates had good nights. Sanders and Buttigieg seemed to do the best. Sanders has been blacked out by the media in the past. Their corporate masters don’t like him  and they try to ignore him in the debates. He got decent exposure for perhaps the first time. He speaks well, has an agenda and has the capacity to lead a movement and mobilize people. That’s what it will take to get the county back on track. He looked healthy and strong.

     Warren did well. She solidified her stance on being anti-corruption - which is important. She has been consistent in this over the years. I don’t think she did anything remarkable to move the needle.

     Buttigieg did well but I don’t trust any candidate drenched in corporate funding. This is particularly true when talking about pharma and insurers.

     Biden did well until he didn’t. He is living in the past and wants to reach across party lines to negotiate with a brick wall. That hasn’t worked for about 30 years. Why should he magically succeed where no else has?

     I want to learn more about Steyer. He won’t get elected, but I’m curious. I had dumped him into the Bloomberg billionaire crybaby pile and hadn’t really listened to him.

     Harris showed her colors as a political operative that only cares about power. I would never vote for her, but I knew that back in 2016. 

     Booker is also a corporate tool, so I don’t really care how eloquent he is. He’s up to his eyeballs in pharma money. Another operative I would never vote for.

     When making decisions about candidates, I try to look past the words and look at what they have done and how they have voted in the past. In the case if Harris, many of my objections have a great

deal to do with what she did as AG in CA. What she did to get there and what she did while there are all fair game.

     I stand by what I said last night. Right  now the only 2 candidates I would vote for are Sanders or Warren. If any of the others get the nomination, I’m voting 3rd party. But it is early yet. I could still change my mind. But that would come from the actions of candidates not their words. Words are easy.

Legislating is hard. 
 

Markus Dazkal

 

1) The big headline - only half as many people watched this as did the September debate. Nobody thinks a debate with ten candidates on stage is worth watching. Perez is a nice guy but is in way over his head and is a total failure. I am endlessly frustrated because I really believe it matters plenty. The top candidates IMHO are all significantly flawed and this isn’t providing a fair opportunity for the rest to break through. Very few watching and very little time to make their case.

 

2) Biden is just not a great candidate. He was always prone to gaffes, and he’s gotten worse with age. Also clearly a man of his generation and more than a little out of touch. If it’s him or warren I may vote for him in NY but I’m really hoping someone better will still be viable. Kamala - Klobuchar - Booker - any of them would be better in my view.

 

3) My top choice, Kamala, had a fine debate. “Trump got punked” by North Korea was both accurate and effective. Hit Tulsi hard with a much needed truth bomb that most Democrats will agree with. Wisely deferred the chance to hit Pete hard and elevated the discussion to the more important point - we need to be there for black voters, and not just when we need their votes. Will it matter? I hope yes, I think more likely no - which is a real shame. She’s getting better all the time as a first time national candidate.

 

4) I agree with the consensus that Klobuchar had a strong debate. She’s already been gaining support in Iowa. Might be the next candidate to have a moment.

 

5) Warren’s worst debate yet - not terrible but she’s already started losing altitude and this won’t help. Her and Kamala made the same mistake - hopped onto Bernie’s crappy M4A bill and struggled with it for months before backing away from it. 

 

6) Pete did ok - not bad, not great. His campaign via Lis Smith claimed he fended off attacks from Klobuchar, Tulsi and Kamala on twitter - got hundreds of replies calling her out for dishonesty because Kamala specifically did not attack him even when invited to by Welker. This Is the type of tactic that turns a lot of people off. I’m one of them. Sorry but it was just a lie and it’s unacceptable to me.

 

7) Bernie was so-so, Booker was good but I don’t think it will help him either.

 

 

 

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