Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: Covering the First Democratic Debates
By Elia Hohauser-Thatcher
The first two Democratic debates on Wednesday, June 26 and Thursday, June 27, were, in short, a shitshow. Through the Spanish speaking, interrupting, empty platitudes and stinkeyes, one couldn’t help but wonder: “Why the hell am I watching this?” As always, the two cable news-hosted events were focused on drama, not substance.
Declaring “winners” and “losers” of the two debates feels borderline irresponsible. In a healthy democracy, candidates would focus on debating their policies. These debates wouldn’t focus on hit jobs and garnering a reaction from the audience. This whole thing taking place on cable news, for a profit, just proves the erosion of our democracy. That said, the format dictates a listicle, so a listicle I will provide. Here are the winners and losers from the first round of debates:
Bernie Sanders (and his ideas)
On both debate stages, all of the candidates were forced to reckon with Sanders’ ideas. Whether it was Medicare-for-All, economic inequality, or the Green New Deal, Sanders not only had the best responses, he was responsible for these ideas being discussed at all. His performance was muted, but on message, and he pointedly stayed out of the slap fight between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. Most importantly, his final remarks delivered the most prescient moment of the debate.
Former prosecutor and current senator Kamala Harris had a good night. After years of attacking the rights of people of color and trying to arrest parents for their children’s truancy, Harris expertly took down Joe Biden for his lack of support for busing. She was also lauded for supporting single-payer healthcare. Then, she promptly walked it back.
Despite being surrounded by political powerhouses like John Delaney and Tim Ryan, Elizabeth Warren shined in the first night of the debates. She gave a full-throated endorsement of single-payer healthcare and did an excellent job staying on message. Without question, Warren demonstrated that she has a plan for everything. My favorite of which is her plan to “green” the military and keep the war machine moving without destroying the planet!
On the first night of the debates, Castro got into a sparring match with Beto O’Rourke on immigration and won, handily. He has also advocated for abolition of a law that criminalizes illegal entry. This will undoubtedly push Castro from 1% in the polls to 5% before he drops out after the Iowa caucus.
It’s near universally known that Joe Biden is terrible. And boy, did he prove it.
Between the cringey Spanish speaking and humiliating lack of policy knowledge, Beto O’Rourke proved that he probably should’ve run against human centipede John Cornyn for a Senate seat in Texas, instead.
Running almost entirely on gun control, Eric Swalwell has been coasting around 1% in the polls. He begged both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to “pass him the torch,” but sadly, neither of them handed it over. Even Biden, who frequently cut himself off at the debate, spoke more than twice as long as Swalwell did.
Anyone else polling around 1%
R.I.P., especially, to the campaign of “The Scientist” John Hickenlooper, who looks like he has only eaten red meat for the last twenty years.
No debate on climate change. Very few candidates in favor of Medicare for All. More milquetoast centrism. It’s not good enough. Join a union. Organize in your community. Come to our big protest in Detroit at the next one of these bullshit things on July 30–31.