The Second Series of Democratic Presidential Debates conducted by CNN was much better than the first ones sponsored by MSNBC.
Most of the candidates, perhaps knowing this may be their best chance to make an impression and qualify for the September debates, brought their A games.
There was more of a thorough discussion of the issues and exchange of views than the first debate.
Many of the candidates offered great moments. These included:
Marianne Willamson making the Grosse Pointe comparison to Flint was one.
Kirsten Gillibrand saying the first thing she would do as President is “Clorox the Oval Office” was another. She was having a good night until she made the dated and outlandish accusation that Joe Biden was once against women working outside the home.
Joe Biden’s opening and closing statements were well presented.
Elizabeth Warren forcefully and passionately defending her positions against Joe Delaney who also articulated his views well stood out on the first night.
Bernie Sanders saying “I wrote the damned plan” in response to Tim Ryan’s attack on his Medicare for All Plan was another. This response may have sunk Ryans chances right there.
Pete Buttigieg rightly claiming that Republicans are going to call Democrats socialist no matter if they are Liberal or Conservative was on point. So was his comment that we are not far away from the first casualty in Afghanistan being a solider born after 9/11.
Amy Klobuchar denouncing the National Rifle Association and defending Baltimore earned praise.
All the Governors (Steve Bullock, John Hickenlooper, and Jay Inslee) touting their progressive accomplishments and experience was beneficial to the audiences showing that there were candidates on stage who presided over progressive change.
Both Cory Booker and Julian Castro (the individuals along with Inslee with both legislative and executive experience) presented their cases in optimistic tones which were actually lacking in most of the other candidates (with the possible exceptions of Warren and Biden).
One can make the case that Booker is the only one these candidates who has the charisma of a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.
Finally, Michael Bennet. a steady and consistent presence brought applause by calling for a program to address high school drop out rates because 88 percent of those children wind up in jail.
All of these individuals and the ones not mentioned would be far better Presidents than the 2016 Popular Vote Loser.
All offer inclusive progressive programs that include:
- Promoting Universal and Affordable Health Care.
- Raising the Minimum Wage.
- Repairing our infrastructure and shifting to green energy.
- Combatting Climate Change
- More money for education and teachers.
- Free College (at least up to two years) and Apprenticeship Programs.
- Universal Pre K and Paid Family Leave.
- Raising taxes on the most wealthy.
- A sane foreign and trade policy that embraces America’s allies, condemns dictators and protects our workers and environment.
- Expanding National Service.
- Bringing the country back together.
That said, there are several potential pitfalls that Democrats need to be mindful of:
- Voters are not going to support decriminalizing illegal border crossings. They will support comprehensive immigration reform which offers family-friendly reforms coupled with strong border security measures.
- Voters are not going to want to spend money on reparations for slavery that ended over 150 years ago. It is better to focus on policies that lift everybody up.
- People want to keep their private health insurance. People want universal affordable health care. It is better to provide a public option within the Affordable Care Act that includes buy-ins to a Medicare type (possibly as a supplement to their private insurance) program or Medicaid. The Government should also be empowered to negotiate prescription drug prices. Those health care proposals will win with the American People.
- The Candidates still have to explain how they will enact their proposals with little to no Republican support. Will they get rid of the filibuster if the Democrats retake the Senate? Taking the Senate and maintaining the majority in the House of Representatives is essential to the success of a Democratic Administration with a Progressive agenda.
- The candidates, as Mayor Pete Buttigieg said on the first night, need to lay out a compelling vision for where they want to take the country. Most of the candidates have not done that on a consistent basis. Being one of ten on a debate stage with a set amount of time per question is not helpful to the candidates in this case. Candidates also have to be inspiring when they lay out their visions. Again, many of the candidates have not done that on a consistent basis so far.
Now that the first two series of Presidential Debates are over, these are the candidates, based on their performances, that, in this writers opinion, should earn an invitation to the ones hosted by ABC News in September. They are:
- Michael Bennet
- Joe Biden
- Cory Booker
- Steve Bullock
- Pete Buttigieg
- Julian Castro
- Kamala Harris
- John Hickenlooper
- Jay Inslee
- Amy Klobuchar
- Beto O’Rourke
- Bernie Sanders
- Elizabeth Warren
There is no doubt that well thought out arguments can be made for including one of the other eight candidates (Bill De Blasio, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard (who delivered a stinging blow on Harris’s record as California Attorney General,) Tim Ryan, Mariane Williamson, Andrew Yang). These are all very able public servants with good ideas who had some fine moments but their chances of winning appear to be slim at this time. However, circumstances can change in the next few weeks.
What is important is for voters to stay engaged in the process and continue to monitor the campaigns so they can make the best-informed choice possible.
That is the best way to choose the best nominee to contest and defeat Individual One.