Democratic Debates

I doubt anyone had “Watch 20 Dems debate for four hours” on their bucket list.

I certainly didn’t.

But I did it–and I’m glad.

Ten intelligent, hard driving leaders were on stage Wednesday, all saying things few Idaho Democrats hear often enough, and another 10 on Thursday.

They shared American values.

The real America would treat immigrants with compassion.

“And for a party that associates with Christianity to say…God would condone putting children in cages has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.” (South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg)

“When I see these kids at the border, I see my mom, because I know she sees herself because she was separated from her parents for years during the Holocaust in Poland.” (Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett )

(For the record, no one said let them all vote. Candidates proposed working with allies to deal with crises in “failed states” where citizens are in danger.)

Climate change is both a real threat and an opportunity.

“There’s going to be a real worldwide need for…our research and development on green energy going forward. Then we need to say any corporation can come and use that work…but [products] have to be manufactured right here in the United States of America.” (Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren)

Something needs to be done about our extreme economic inequality.

“How can three people own more wealth than the bottom half of America?…Nothing will change unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex and the fossil fuel industry. If we don’t have the guts to take them on…the rich will get richer and everybody else will be struggling.” (Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders)

Forty thousand gun deaths a year is a national tragedy.

“We must be a country who loves our children more than we love our guns.” (California Rep. EricSwalwell)

“Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country, and we need to treat it like that,” (Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren)

Candidates agreed that healthcare is a basic human right. Most backed a public option as a choice on the health exchange.  Sen. Bernie Sanders was one of four supporting Medicare for All.

“We will have Medicare for All when tens of millions of people are prepared to stand up and tell the insurance companies and the drug companies that their day is gone, that healthcare is a human right, not something to make huge profits off of.”

The first night’s debate resembled a game of hot potato–fast moving, 60-second answers, with one candidate after another throwing ideas in the air. The sense of teamwork was strong, so strong I didn’t see those on stage as rivals, but imagined them serving together in a cabinet.

 The second night, however, was a debate. Contenders working to stand out glossed over issues they agreed on and focused on differences–not just where we should head, but the steps to take.

We went from celebrating shared values to previewing the hard decisions ahead.

Which candidate would best negotiate the agreements needed to move policies forward?

We’ve got over eight months to decide–and five more debate rounds.

Dates for the next two debates are July 30-31 and September 12-13.  Days in October, November, and December have yet to be announced.

Four states will select candidates in February, and 21, including Idaho, during the first two weeks of March.       .

  So right now I’ll simply revel in the strength of shared values among the diverse Democratic candidates and look forward to learning more in the months ahead.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019

Multiple Choice

Just what do Marianne Williamson, John Delaney, and Wayne Messam have in common?

If you can answer that, you are better informed than I was three days ago– so I’ll make it easier.

It’s the same action that Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Julian Castro have taken.

They have all declared as Democratic presidential candidates. (Adding Joe Biden might have made the question seem easier, but he hasn’t declared.)

According to Ballotpedia, 16 “notable” Democrats have declared as candidates. There are usually two to seven. Sixteen ties the Democratic record, set in 1976 after Gerald Ford replaced–and pardoned–President Nixon.

And there’s still time for more candidates to step forward.

Although the Republicans had 17 declared candidates in 2016, they limited the first debates to those polling in the top 10. Even that number appeared out of control at times, with some candidates getting no attention and others shouting over speakers.

Warned by the Republican experience–and facing a possible field of 20 or more candidates–the Democratic National Committee has decided they don’t want more than 10 candidates on stage at once. Rather than leave many out, however, the June and July debates will be divided over two nights.

Last month the DNC announced that candidates can qualify for the debates either by getting over 1 percent in three DNC-approved 2019 polls or by getting donations from 65,000 individuals, including at least 200 each from 20 different states.

If more than 20 candidates qualify, a combination of the two measures will be used to decide who participates.

These are significant hurdles, but they might not thin the field much.

March alone had 15 approved polls. Ten candidates have already polled over 1 percent at least three times: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jay Inslee, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Pete Buttigieg, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

A March 20 article in the Daily Beast revealed that Andrew Yang has passed the 65,000 donor number. “Now, Yang…has tweeted about South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson, imploring his followers to support their campaigns.”

In an interview, Yang explained, “.. the more people trying to solve problems that are on a national stage the better.”

Buttigiegand did reach the donor numbers last week.

John Delaney, who represented Maryland for three terms in the U.S. House, has personally pledged to donate $2 to charity for for each new donor, even those who donate only $1. Moreover, the donor gets to choose the charity from 11 options.

Yes, Delaney is a millionaire.

Sixteen is a lot of candidates to evaluate, and chances are, those of us in Idaho won’t get a chance to see many of them in person. Julian Castro made a Boise visit and people got a chance to gauge his stands, humor, and demeanor first hand. Many candidates, however, are already concentrating on Iowa and New Hampshire.

Wikipedia has a helpful “cheatsheet” with pictures showing candidates from several parties under “2020 United States presidential candidates.” Another page, “Political positions of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidates,” has charts showing candidates’ stands on issues in 14 categories, i.e. healthcare, border issues, economics, etc. Unfortunately, many of the entries are “unknown” as of yet.

Democrats are fortunate to have candidates with different political views, backgrounds, and areas of expertise vying to lead.

It’ll be truly great if they can work together to make a strong governing team.

Now, it’s our job to find the time and energy to learn about each one.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019