Although the Democratic debate did little to shake up the race for a presidential bid— Clinton polished her strong lead, Sanders rattled his second-place cage with phrases like “political revolution,” O’Malley couldn’t find the break-out moment he needed and Chafee and Webb were comic relief at best—last Tuesday provided an opportunity to highlight the party’s uniformity on nearly every issue.
Unlike the all-bluster Republican debate, the Democratic candidates showed themselves to be policy wonks humming the same tune. There of course was discordance about how to achieve certain ends, but no one candidate deviated from the party’s goals.
They all want to tax the wealthy, close the income inequality gap, create a cleaner energy economy without ties to fossil fuels, avoid war, regulate guns and put less money into prisons and a broken legal system and focus their dollars on education.
Clinton said she’d tax Wall Street and keep a closer eye on its activity. Sanders went so far as to say the financial sector used fraud as a business model and needed complete dismantling. But both assert the process begins with large taxes on corporations and the three biggest banks, the latter of which controls 65 percent of the U.S. GDP.
Each candidate admitted the racial divide and inequality in the U.S. is evident, and O’Malley’s unique perspective as the former mayor of Baltimore allowed him to spout off stats about reforming his city through comprehensive gun legislation, which drew large applause from the audience.
Gun violence was at the top of the list for discussion. Clinton said Sanders’ plan for gun reform didn’t go far enough, and that it’s time to stand up to the NRA’s bullying. Sanders opted for working with gun lobbyists to promote gradual gun restrictions and remained loyal to the rural sentiments of his home state, a stance which may lose some of his far left supporters.
Claiming his socialist democrat moniker, Sanders proved most liberal on the issue of money in politics. He stated, “These fossil fuel companies are funding the Republican candidates,” which is dead on.
Eight of the Republican candidates are receiving $62 million from sources involved in polluting industries. That chunk of money has come from just 17 billionaires taking advantage of easily corruptible Super Pacs. Sanders used the issue to promote his campaigning platform, which doesn’t use funding from large corporations, but depends on smaller individual donors.
The Republican Party was grilled all night.
Clinton said, “We cannot afford to put a republican in the White House.” She talked about how they “demonized immigrants,” to which everyone agreed.
Republicans were called “obstructionists” because of their refusal to work with democrats in Congress, and their “politics as usual” ideology was called out for leaving our country in a gridlock.
Every candidate rallied together against the conservative right wing, and this was a bond that gave the debate a more mollified tone than the republican rhetoric used in its debate.
But no matter how well democrats work among themselves, it amounts to nil when the Congress is controlled by Republicans who stymie any legislation put forth by a democratic administration.
This is why Sanders is practically unelectable. Although he’s the candidate most likely to seek large-scale policy changes and has a campaign based on actuating income inequality legislation, when you have the word “socialist” attached to your name, you’re taboo to the American populace like “democrat” is to Congress.
So unless something major shifts in the party’s framework, Clinton will get the nomination for her experience and malleability.
One of the final questions posed asked the candidates how their presidency wouldn’t be a third Obama term. All had their ready-made answers, but in truth, as long as Congress is Republican, it’s two steps back and one step forward in our current Sisyphean system.