I just finished watching most of tonight’s Democratic debate (I had to take a 15-minute break to roll a pack of smokes). This is the first of the debates this year that I have watched for a number of reasons. One, when there were 20 candidates on the debate stage, it seemed pointless. No way was any candidate going to be able to have enough time for us to get a good feel for his/her platform, ideas, and persona. Second, I actually hate watching debates. Why? Because I do not like to see the infighting that typically takes place … the sly remarks, the arguing, the cutting of other candidates. Third, because as a rule, I see little value in them … it often turns into more of a personality contest than an actual presentation of ideas. Tonight, the field was narrowed to a more manageable, though still twice as large as it should be, number of candidates (10), the infighting wasn’t too bad, and I came away with a somewhat better idea of the differences between the candidate’s platforms. I wanted to share my (unsolicited) thoughts about the debate while it is fresh in my mind, for by tomorrow I will have forgotten half of my impressions.
Overall, my biggest complaint about the debate topics was the omission, once again, of any meaningful discussion about climate change. It was touched on briefly, but far too little relative to its importance, and only in the most general of ways.
The candidates, in my order of least to most likely to win the nomination (I have included links to their Politico profile which includes their platform):
Tom Steyer speaks well, has some good ideas such as term limits for Congress, and is an environmentalist. He is not, however, qualified to be president of the United States. He is a billionaire businessman … we do not need another of those. He stands no chance and would be doing the nation a favour by dropping out, so that future debates can focus on the more viable candidates.
I found Tulsi Gabbard to be incredibly arrogant and combative. Gabbard is a veteran of the Iraq War, and I respect that. But, she has been highly critical of such people as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic Party in general, while cozying up to the likes of Steve Bannon, and has among her fans, the ignominious Tucker Carlson. She struck me as somehow ‘false’, not genuine. She is polling very low and, like Steyer, would be better off dropping out.
Amy Klobuchar has some very good ideas, such as ending Citizen’s United (one of my top priorities), and is well-spoken, but something about her bothered me, and quite honestly, I don’t know what it was. She had one line, however, that brought the house down and had me laughing out loud: “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.” That line alone should bring her up a few points in the polls! I have mixed thoughts about Klobuchar, however since I don’t expect to see her in the top 3, I’m not going to overthink it.
This was the first time I really took much notice of Andrew Yang, and I liked what I saw and heard. He was very down-to-earth, his humanitarianism seemed genuine, and he came across as very intelligent. However, he has no government experience of any sort, is an entrepreneur, and that just simply falls short of the qualifications in my book. It might not have three years ago, but after the experience of the current administration, I want somebody in office who at least halfway knows what they’re doing and how our government operates.
Kamala Harris has always impressed me, and tonight was no exception. She has some experience in government at both state and federal levels, having been the Attorney General of California for 6 years, San Francisco District Attorney for 7 years, and has currently served as a U.S. Senator from California since 2017. She speaks with passion, intelligence, and I found nothing in her platform that I disagreed with.
I like Cory Booker. No, I don’t think he stands a snowball’s chance, but I like him, like his ideas, his platform, and think that while maybe 2020 isn’t his time, perhaps 2028 might be. I disagreed with him on one thing, that he is against increasing taxes on the wealthy, though he said he definitely does support estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and he agreed that the nation needs to find additional sources of revenue. He was friendly, congenial to the other candidates, and his closing statement brought a tear to my eyes when he noted that Representative John Lewis, a hero in my book, was in the audience and referred to Mr. Lewis’ civil rights heroism of the 1960s.
Pete Buttigieg was ranked as one of the debate ‘winners’ by The Washington Post, and I would agree. He is intelligent, and while his governing experience is limited to being Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012, it is certainly more than the current president has. He speaks well, has some good points, such as in the areas of housing, minimum wage, and education. He took some guff tonight, as was expected given that he has been rising in the polls of late. I rank Mayor Pete fourth of the ten remaining candidates.
Which brings us to the top three. I truly cannot rank these as #1, #2, #3, because they are all excellent candidates and I am very much torn between the three, yet all three have the same Achilles Heel … their age.
Bernie Sanders did a great job tonight. He was passionate, spoke with strength and compassion, had all the right answers, in my book. He had many good moments in the debate, but I think the one that received the warmest audience response was when he said, “It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel. But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve.” The concern with Bernie Sanders is his age and health. He is 78 years old and recently suffered a heart attack.
Elizabeth Warren had the most speaking time on the debate stage, and I absolutely loved the passion with which she spoke, not to mention that I always like her ideology. One of the most controversial topics was Medicare-for-All. I liked many of the ideas that were floated, but I think perhaps I liked Warren’s best, for hers was to phase it in over a three-year period in order to have time to work out the kinks, and to give people time to “feel it and taste it and live with it”. As with Bernie Sanders, her age is a factor, at 70.
I have thought, since the beginning of this never-ending campaign season, that Joe Biden is the most viable candidate, and … I still think that, with reservations. Biden, obviously, has the most relevant experience, and he is more moderate than some of the others that I like. The sad truth is that next year’s presidential election is not about any issues … it’s not about climate change, health care, education, foreign policy, housing, or any of the other issues. It is about one thing and one thing only: Who can beat Donald Trump. Everything else is secondary. Biden is, of the ten remaining candidates, the most qualified, and the most ‘trusted’, for he is a known factor, while the others are unknowns, relatively speaking. Biden would be a good president. However, as far as the debates, I must admit that relative to almost all the others, Joe Biden was not exciting … in fact, he damn near put me to sleep. Additionally, Biden gets cantankerous when challenged … not a good thing. At the moment, I think he is the best choice to beat Trump, but … for a number of reasons, that may change.
The most recent polls …
Overall, the debate was worth watching, and I was glad I did. I’ll likely watch one or two more if I can. Though it wasn’t captioned, the audio quality was excellent, and I had no trouble hearing the candidates. I would like to see the next one, which I believe is later this month, whittled down to five candidates, but I am not holding my breath there. The candidates engaged in a bit of humour from time to time, which helped, and I chuckled aloud more than once, ‘til finally daughter Chris asked what the heck I was watching!
I will have more on the candidates and their platforms in the coming weeks/months, but those are my thoughts about tonight’s debate. It’s gonna be a loooooooooonnnngg 12 months, my friends.