The Oct. 15 Democratic presidential debate was both necessary and newsworthy. Yet, it was outshined by the impeachment inquiry. Kayla Glaraton writes on what a member of Generation Z got out of three hours of debate.
Although I did watch all three hours of last Tuesday’s debate, I will admit that my focus was not solely on my television. Like many, I have to balance my work with being an engaged citizen. However, every Democratic debate leading up to the primaries is important, given the gravity of choosing the right candidate to challenge President Trump.
Twelve candidates took the stage, making it the largest debate yet. It was refreshing to not hear 12 opening statements, which only act as sales pitches and offer little insight into how a person would solve the nation’s issues. Unfortunately, debates are set up as such that the only chance weaker candidates have of speaking is if they are directly asked a question or targeted in another’s response.
The 10 candidates from September were joined by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and billionaire Tom Steyer. In the middle of the stage was former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Having overtaken Biden in several polls, Warren was treating as the frontrunner by her fellow candidates, speaking six minutes longer than anyone else, according to the New York Times.
Bernie Sanders still commanded the stage every time he spoke. The only occasion when his heart attack earlier this month come up was questions posed to him and his fellow septuagenarians, or 70-year-olds, about their physical ability to serve as president of the United States.
Do Not Sacrifice Experience For Novelty
The questions about ability and age are important. Former President Jimmy Carter recently said that he does not, “believe [he] could undertake the duties,” of being president at 80-years-old, the age both Biden and Sanders would reach in office, should they win in 2020.
Carter’s observation, while hard to hear, is correct. The job of being the president of the United States is demanding and mentally taxing. There are no breaks or off-days and whoever becomes the nominee will need to be capable of making world-altering decisions at any moment.
However, the experience, wisdom and relationships that come from decades of work in Washington are desperately needed in the Oval Office. Trump was a novelty in politics during the 2016 election, although he has been talking about running for president since the 1980s and even briefly ran in 2000.
This experiment in choosing a candidate with no political history has shown how important that background is. While candidates like Andrew Yang have wonderful ideas and unique insights that Washington needs, being a good politician takes practice. The wisdom needed to lead such a large and divided nation only comes from years of experience in local or national government.
We should not rule out candidates based on age because any one of them could have a medical emergency in office. Strong relationships with allies and experience in foreign policy are necessary presidential attributes. Trump’s poor judgement and continuous backstabbing on the world stage has shown this.
Democratic Party Will Fracture
Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were the strongest candidates of the night, aside from the leading trio. The two candidates both represent a faction within the Democratic Party that is at risk in the 2020 election. Moderate or independent voters could be pushed away if the party follows down the path of radicalism.
Generation Z has grown up in an extremist-dominated world. We do not remember a time before the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan has been a constant in all our lives. The first time I voted, a radical Republican won even though polls said he would not. My world has been shaped by extreme people and extreme events.
Just as Donald Trump drew the Republican Party further from the center, the more socialist faction of the Democratic Party is hoping to steer the party away from bipartisanship. However, many issues are not black and white. Supporting plans that ultimately do not offer a choice could draw voters away from the Democratic Party.
Klobuchar and Buttigieg’s dominance at the debate came at the right time. As Biden’s lead shrinks, the possibility of a more progressive nominee like Warren becomes more real.. This is not the time for the Democratic Party to be questioning just how socialist it needs to become.
This election is going to define the 2020s. It is imperative that the right nominee comes out of these debates. They cannot be so extreme that they refuse to find common ground with Republicans and moderate Democrats. Having brothers who are Republicans is not enough. Their plans must reflect their willingness to support more pragmatic approaches.
Several candidates do not fall in either camps and are struggling to remain in the race. I would not be surprised if several drop out ahead of November’s debate. Rep. Gabbard gave an awful answer when asked how she would have pulled troops out of Syria without leaving the Kurds to die.
Gabbard’s statement that the United States and the media has supported and even championed a “regime-change” war in Syria is not true. Our country is simply against a dictator murdering his own people. American forces remained in Northern Syria to assist our allies, the Kurds, in creating peace and stability.
Former El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke was only strong on gun control and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) did little to advance her campaign. Steyer stuck out for two reasons: it was his first debate and he wore a bold, tartan tie which I personally loved. It is still too early to guess who the nominee will be. Hopefully, it will be someone capable of restraint and compromise, who has the political experience needed to bring America back to the world stage.