Democratic Debate, Round Two;
Sen. Sanders Brings The Heat
Contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination exchanged blows during the second round of debates; Some had a lot to say, and some said little or nothing at all of political substance, but when the smoke cleared, it was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who set fire to the debate stage...
As a crowded field of Democrats battle for the opportunity to take on President Trump in the general election, "moderate" (corporate-friendly) and progressive contenders went head-to-head on key issues weighing on the minds of the body politic as presented through the lens of the mainstream press. Hosted by CNN, the debate moderators continuously and disproportionately requested input and responses from candidates polling at one or two percent (or, well within the "margin of error" in any poll, which is generally 3-5%), and specifically requested rebuttals from "centrist" candidates to progressive policy positions. Generally, rebuttals involve accusations of unrealistic ambition, and the scare tactic of throwing the word "socialist" at virtually any policy benefiting the working poor. A rebuttal to this approach was presented by none other than Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who stated that "If we adopt far-left policies, Republicans are going to call us crazy socialists. If we adopt conservative democratic policies, do you know what they are going to do? They are going to call us crazy socialists. We might as well stand up for what we believe in, and advocate for the policies that benefit working Americans." While this is obviously resoundingly true, the Mayor from South Bend, Indiana has been nonetheless more moderate than the more progressive contenders in the race, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who went on the offensive, going after John Delaney, one of the more outspoken centrists in the race. "You know", Warren exclaimed, "I don't know why anyone goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for. I don't get it."
Sen. Sanders clapped back the hardest against Delaney (who referred to progressive politics as "fairytail economics) when asked what his response was to Delaney's accusations of impossible promises with regard to healthcare. "You're wrong", he stated frankly. He proceeded in no uncertain terms to describe a "dire" situation in which "millions of families" struggle under mountains of medical debt, some going bankrupt, at the behest of a market approach to healthcare, which, as he characteristically stated, only serves the "profiteering of the drug companies, and the insurance companies". Delaney, who seeminly does not grasp the concept of Medicare For All (or is lying about it), referred to it nonetheless as a "subtraction", asking, "...why do we have to be the party of taking something away from people?" Also attempting to take Sanders to task on healthcare was Rep. Tim Ryan. As Sanders explained that his healthcare plan would "... finally include dental care, hearing aides, and eyeglasses", Ryan interrupted: "But you don't know that", he repeated more than once, attempting to stop Sanders in his tracks. Sanders responded "I do know it, I wrote the damn bill!" Being equally as feisty with the moderators, Sanders clapped back when asked by Jake Tapper (CNN's leading political reporter) if he would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for his Medicare For All proposal. "Jake, your question is a Republican talking point", he stated, further noting that the healthcare industry would be advertising on the outlet amidst the debates.
As the debates, via 15-second soundbites, hashed out the differences between the candidates on key proposals, one candidate who is inexplicably liked by some progressives seemed to have the least ideas of any of the candidates, left, right, or center: Marianne Williamson. Williamson has one policy: love. As a guiding principal (one of our "values" if you ask Tom Perez), it is certainly found wanting among the ideas tossed about within political discourse, is not a policy. Nor has she named one specific policy aimed at any particular problem during this debate or the previous. In fact, she seems to be intentionally opposed to the idea of particular policy goals at all, attacking candidates with "all these plans" during the previous debate, and referring to specificity in this debate as political wonkery.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), though hailed (and defended) by TYT's Cenk Uygur as a "progressive", exfoliated such policy positions as "hope in one another, and a faith in a future of this country that includes everyone". He, seemingly almost as devoid of specificity as Williamson, likewise provided no particular policy goals, obfuscating questions with shallow platitudes, and a plethora of lovely words, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". He spoke of providing "high-paying jobs serving the poorest communities", and, while this would inevitably require either higher education to low income households or trade schooling, suggested neither, albeit he did tout his ability to win Republican voters as he claims he did in his [unsuccessful] bid to oust Republican Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2018 midterms. Also, despite Robert's attempts to pander to the immigrant community, explicitly disagreed with Buttigieg's policy of decriminalizing crossing the southern border, advocating for waiving citizenship fees for Green Card holders (a policy also supported by Buttigieg) and "aiding" Central American nations, after which, he states, "...I expect that people who come here follow our laws, and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them..." To be fair, Warren also advocated for decriminalizing border crossing.
Sen. Sanders was asked by the moderators if his plan to provide education and healthcare to migrant families would "drive even more people to come to the U.S. illegally", framing the question through the assumption that immigration is in itself a "problem" to be "deterred". Sanders unequivocally referred to current immigration policy as "racist" and "demonizing" towards immigrants, stating that mothers and children walking "thousands of miles down a dangerous path" to the U.S. are not "criminals". Sanders vowed that within the first week of his administration, he would "bring the entire hemisphere together to talk about how we rebuild Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, so that people do not have to flee their own countries."Sanders did detail another group of "criminals", however, and was the only candidate to call them by name. He asked, "What do you do with an industry that knowingly, for billions of dollars in short-term profits is destroying this planet? I say that is criminal activity that cannot be allowed to continue."