The first Democratic Presidential Debate was held October 13th in Las Vegas, Nevada, an odd place to have a group of people vocally opposing what they continually called ‘casino’ capitalism. The stars of the debate were the disheveled, seventy-four year-old socialist senator from Vermont, the Washington mainstay under FBI investigation, the former Mayor of Baltimore who thinks he did a good job, a farrier (a.k.a. Lincoln ‘block of granite’ Chafee), and, of course, the former Senator from Virginia and Secretary of the Navy in the… you guessed it, Reagan Administration. If you could manage to watch the whole thing – while Martin O’Malley stared into your soul and Lincoln Chafee stammered out something boring every ten minutes – then you would find some pretty substantive reasons not to vote for any of these people.
First, let’s start with the leader in the polls, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She’s been the First Lady, a United States Senator, and the Secretary of State. She’s also a grandmother, and she won’t let you forget it. Speaking of forgetting, let’s forget Benghazi, let’s forget her e-mails, let’s forget the Clinton Foundation’s shady dealings, let’s forget Sidney Blumenthal, let’s forget the Whitewater scandal, let’s forget ‘Travelgate,’ and, if it’s possible, let’s just focus on what Clinton said at the debate, which is enough in and of itself. The first question thrown her way was on her wavering opinions on everything from gay marriage to the keystone pipeline, and if she changes her opinions for political expediency. She responded, “Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but…I do absorb new information. I do look at what’s happening in the world.” Of course, no one is saying you can’t change your views, as any realistic person does; the problem arises when you were vehemently opposed against something that you now support. For example, Clinton said in 2004, “…the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman.” Clinton now supports gay marriage. Now, I don’t know about you, but “fundamental bedrock principles” aren’t things that usually change as you “absorb new information.” Either Clinton doesn’t understand what fundamental principles are (and I’m sure she does), or she panders to what the populace wants at the time. I think we know which is true. Clinton took characteristic stances on gun control, climate change, and wages. An interesting section of the debate was on foreign policy, when Clinton offered solutions to problems she helped to create. Clinton led the ‘Russian reset,’ which didn’t really reset anything, unless of course she means ‘reset’ U.S.-Russian relations back to near Cold War levels, as we’re seeing today with the crisis in Syria. Overall, however, no matter if her points were valid or not, she won the debate decidedly, as she should have (did you see who she was up against?).
Bernie Sanders is polling second right now, and though he has no chance of ever being the President of the United States, he has become the favorite of Millennials, hipsters, and people who like the word ‘free.’ The most alarming aspect of Sanders’s ascendency in the polls is that he is literally a socialist. I’m not using the word ‘literally’ as hyperbole, but I mean it by its actual definition. Bernie Sanders is literally a socialist and is somehow winning over a portion of voters in the United States of America. Thirty, twenty, even ten or five years ago there would have been no room on the Democratic debate stage for a self-proclaimed socialist because Democrats aren’t socialists. At least they aren’t supposed to be. Sanders calls himself a ‘democratic socialist,’ which is someone who supports a democratic political system (think the USA) and a socialist economic system (think the Soviet Union). Those two sure mix well. If you want a modern day example of a democrat socialist, look to Alexis Tsipras, former Prime Minister of Greece, who resigned in August 2015 after Greece’s economy collapsed and they had to beg for money from the European Union. That’s appealing. Let’s bring that stateside. Some other notable socialists include: Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara. The only people who would like to join that list are power-hungry psychopaths, mass murderers, and, apparently, a Democratic presidential candidate. Sanders’s message is appealing because he uses empty words and phrases like ‘equality,’ ‘fairness,’ and, most of all, ‘free.’ In the debate Sanders said, “we need to… make every public college and university in this country tuition free.” (Washington Post). First of all, nothing is free. The universities will still have to be funded with money, which is a thing that still exists whether Bernie Sanders understands it or not. How will these universities be funded if they are tuition free? Sanders says by implementing a Wall Street speculation tax. Because that’s fair, isn’t it? Making someone else pay for something you want? At one point in the debate, Sanders said, “Well, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more… taxes in the future than they’re paying today.” The top 1% wealthiest people in the USA pay nearly half of all federal income taxes. (CNBC) The bottom 80% pay about 15%, the bottom 60% pay less than 2% of all federal income taxes. The numbers speak for themselves. He’s right, this isn’t fair. The rich pay too much. Perhaps the oddest thing about Bernie Sanders is that one of his talking points is how corrupt the government is, and what he wants to do is give the government more power by socializing health care, education, and implementing restrictions on the free market. Bernie does have one redeeming factor, believe it or not; he gives real positions, states them loudly, and stands by them no matter how crazy they are. That’s something several of the candidates could take out of his playbook, especially one of them.
The other three candidates had a negligible impact on the debate and should probably just drop out now. Lincoln Chafee debated like he was trying to haggle over prices at a yard sale – that is to say, badly. He called himself a ‘block of granite’ yet in his political career has been a Republican, Independent, and a Democrat. Martin O’Malley seemed like he was trying to sell you something the whole debate, sounded like he was about to cry, and looked into the camera with an odd, unblinking stare. Jim Webb dropped out of the race on October 20th, and said he would consider a run as an Independent. If you’re running for the Democratic nomination and your name is not Hillary Clinton, you should take note of Webb’s decision, as you have no shot at ever being the President.
Overall, this debate was exactly like you would expect it to be. It was too long, boring, and the candidates said asinine things such as “the greatest threat to national security is climate change” (even though climate change has never said “death to America.”) An interesting note to take away from this debate, however, is that the Democrats claim to be the party of the youth, the party of the future, and the party of diversity. The candidates are 80% male, 100% white, and have an average age of nearly 65. When voting next November, remember – only Democrats can lie to your face like that.