Thoughts on the Democratic Debate


The uninspiring crop of democratic challengers to front-runner Hillary Clinton was clearly on display Tuesday night with the debate encompassing a variety of topics that also showed the reason the meteoric rise of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders may be coming to a halt. All of Mrs. Clinton’s challengers appeared to be dancing around her during the debate, not wanting to ruin the party’s prized possession. A great example of this was when former governor O’Malley refused to directly comment on whether Mrs. Clinton had jumped the gun too many times on her handling of foreign policy. Mr. O’Malley instead decided to talk more generally about being cautious of making decisions too quickly involving foreign policy and American intervention. Senator Sanders added a layer of depth and opposition to the seldomly challenged Clinton, who was expecting to enjoy an event free primary until Sanders entered the race. Sanders echoed his populist message of taxing the rich and the injustice of Citizens United which made the an oligarchy. While Sanders did add some excitement to an otherwise event free debate, the debate still lacked the ferocity of the Republican debate, partly because the Democratic party is much more unified in its vision for the future. The Republican Party has had had to reign in the radical, unrealistic wing of its party. Bernie Sanders, while unlikely to win, has energized a group of people who are usually disinterested in politics, and it was disappointing to see him stumble during the debate, especially when the conversation went towards foreign policy.

The word that continued to come to mind while watching Mrs.Clinton is electable. It’s not that she was extraordinary during the debate (though she did perform well), it’s that the debate showcased each challengers weakness. Sanders came off as weak on foreign policy, and the fact that he is a self described socialist does not bode well for him if he were to reach the general election considering 47% of America would not vote for a socialist. Martin O’Malley’s record as being tough on crime during his tenure as mayor of Baltimore has him doomed to fail in the primary. Being more lenient with crime is a theme that has flooded both parties over the past 5 years, and it would virtually be impossible for O’Malley to appeal to the coalition of non-white voters that put Obama in the White House. Lincoln Chafee, former Rhode Island governor and senator, performed well in the debate. Chafee, a former Republican, is a prime example of of how the party has gone so far to the right that that his views are more in line with the Democratic party nowadays. Because of his former Republican status, he is unlikely to have any chance of getting the nomination. Jim Webb, a former senator from Virginia, was too soft spoken, though his conservative views on guns may appeal to rural democrats. Overall, his debate performance showed he is much too conservative to have a chance of chance of gaining any momentum in a Democratic Party that has been pushed farther left to appeal to primary voters. Which brings us back to Mrs.Clinton, who has broad enough support to attract centrists, yet also has deep enough ties to the Obama administration to get non-white voters to the polls. Although I personally believe Mrs.Clinton is uninspiring and is too close to Wall Street , she solidified the frontrunner status that had been challenged by Sanders.
Overall, Hillary won the debate by a wide margin, as Sanders failed to successfully gain momentum among likely Clinton supporters. Sadly, his best moment in the debate was arguably when Senator Sanders denounced everyone for focusing on Clinton’s email scandal. Thus it became evident that Senator Sanders still has a lot of ground to cover to catch up to Hillary. I would not count him out however, especially since people are angry and are looking for something different than the political establishment.