Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Recap: The First Democratic Debate

Five democratic candidates for President of the United States took the debate stage in Las Vegas last night to face off over the issues for the very first time. Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O'Malley introduced themselves to the American people and then got down and dirty in the political mud.

No topic was off limits. Gun control. Hillary Clinton's Emails. Benghazi. Syria. Russia. The Economy. Black Lives Matter. The candidates covered it all. Well, at least some of them did, and that is where we have a problem, if you don't like your candidates chosen for you.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clearly had more debate prep than any of the other candidates on the stage. And by debate prep I mean Clinton's failed 2008 run when she endlessly debated then Senator Barack Obama despite having no chance at the nomination, and Clinton and Sanders' storied histories in the halls of Congress. As for the other candidates, they barely registered in the key arguments being put forth in the debate. It was the Hillary and Bernie show.

One of the most contentious issues early on was gun control. The gloves came off between the old Senate fellows. Hillary Clinton said Bernie Sanders wasn't tough enough on gun control. Bernie tried to argue that there is a difference in the perception of guns in rural areas versus more urban areas, and while he is technically right, that technicality doesn't matter when you consider the students and teachers of Sandy Hook were teaching and learning in a rural area when they were massacred by a madman.

The debate on gun control quickly devolved into a debate about war and who would be a better Commander in Chief. Hillary Clinton was painted as too quick to press the button considering her voting record on Iraq. Bernie Sanders was painted as a pacifist, and the other three candidates pontificated about how they would have voted had they been in Congress, and what they will do once they become the President of the United States. Only Jim Webb could really speak about what it's really like to be at war considering his Marine background, but he squandered his chance to silence, and then complained that he didn't get enough time to speak.

From war the natural progression of the debate led to Syria, Russia, and Benghazi. This brought the marquee moment of the debate when Senator Bernie Sanders exclaimed, "We're tired of hearing about the damn emails." Hillary Clinton appreciated the vote of support from her socialist rival. The debate carried on and came to two of my favorite topics. Let's start with the economy.

On this topic the Democrats did what the Democrats always do. They blamed the Republican. In this case they blamed Bush. The campaign tactics of 2008 and 2012 when Obama ran were employed in earnest with a couple new twists. When the conversation turned to restoring Glass-Steagall all the candidates supported the move except Hillary Clinton. I wonder why? The obvious and only reason that Mrs. Clinton cannot support the restoration of the one piece of legislation that would keep investment banks separate from commercial/community banks is because it is the key piece of legislation her husband took pride in dismantling in the name of deregulation, trimming the fat, cutting the tape, and balancing the budget. While I'm sure President Clinton was well meaning in his actions back in those roaring 90s, it got us Millennials a lot of heartache in the aughts.

Instead of supporting the restoration of Glass-Steagall Mrs. Clinton promoted the failed pansy bill that is Dodd-Frank and promoted progressive capitalism with checks and balances. Bernie Sanders called her on her B.S. and Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb wept. Or at least they should have for their silence.

Last night's debate was hosted by CNN in conjunction with Facebook. That means questions were taken from real people to see if the candidates truly know what's going within the pulse of the country. The first question posed was a simple one, but an important one (especially to this here blogger) "Do Black Live Matter or Do All Lives Matter?

All of the candidates stated why Black Lives Matter. Whether they believe in the movement and goals of the grassroots civil rights campaign or not they gave politically correct answers. All except for maybe Jim Webb. He stumbled around his work with the Black community and came up with I've been working with African Americans and their situation... Mr. Webb, what exactly is our situation?

The Black Lives Matter questions raises a broader issue, not just among the Democratic candidates but for the entire 2016 campaign on both sides of the aisle. Unless the next President is Ben Carson, then our next President will be forced to have a "black agenda." An agenda President Obama could not, does not, and can not outwardly have for the simple fact that he is Black. For the first Black President to have an explicitly Black agenda, while necessary, will be to some too explicitly racist and at very least pandering. I know. The psychology of our country is backwards. However, what Obama had to do through Attorney General Eric Holder, and now Attorney General Loretta Lynch Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump can do on their own. They can put forth a plan to promote the equality of minorities among the greater hegemony and by "pandering" if you will they get the minority vote they are looking for.

It's still a long road to go for both the Democrat and Republican ticket, and though I hate to admit it Hillary Clinton was the strongest candidate at the podium last night. I don't like her sense of entitlement, and I don't care for her deceptive scandals but she did make several compelling arguments and the other candidates, save for Bernie Sanders didn't put up much of a fight against her machine. Especially Martin O'Malley. He's running for Vice President. I'm sure of it.


1. What did you think of the Democratic candidates' debate performance?
2. If the election were today who would you vote for?
3. Do there need to be more candidates in the race?
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