Democrats battle in Ohio for presidential nomination

Category:  Opinions
Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 11:11 AM

Two days after October’s Democratic presidential nominee debate, Fox News reported that Moody’s Analytics, an election predictor with a near 100% success rate, believe that Trump is on his way to a landslide victory in 2020. In all three of Moody’s latest models, Democrats lose the electoral vote. The only way to beat Trump, they state, is if non-incumbent voters turn out in “historical high[s] across all states.”

If Democrats want to win, they need to nominate someone who is a unifier and a mass mobilizer. They need someone who will spark that turnout. As of now, though, they seem intent on stifling those among them who have such potential.

The debate on Oct. 15 was a master class on how to lose an election to Trump.

It was the largest debate in U.S. history. A staggering 12 candidates took the stage, with a handful of them polling at less than 2%. Tulsi Gabbard, who was polling close to 1%, suggested possibly boycotting the debate for unrelated reasons, which ironically, may have been a good idea.

That is not to say these lower-polling candidates don’t have good ideas — many of them have demonstrated great passion. But at this point, we are 12 months away from the general election and even closer to the primaries. The party needs to establish a platform that people can understand and get behind. Splitting the conversation 12 ways and allowing each candidate to explain their platform in 60-second intervals is not how you start a unifying movement.

On the issue of health care, the Democrats stood at a perpetual stalemate. Elizabeth Warren, a current front-runner, was dog-piled by nearly every other candidate on stage for her support of Medicare-for-All.

From both sides of her podium, we heard the same arguments repeated from previous debates. The moderates assert that it’s far too expensive (though a Mercatus Center study shows it could be nearly $2 trillion cheaper than our current health care system), while Bernie Sanders and Warren insist that total costs for lower- to middle-class families will go down. When pressed on the specifics, Warren did not explain how she would pay for it.

The focus of the health care debate was a fruitless effort to force Warren to admit that she would have to raise taxes. Warren reacted with caution. Instead of explicitly saying taxes will go up, she continued the mantra of, “costs will go down.” Her adversaries took this as an opportunity to accuse her of dishonesty.

There were a few other major splitting points throughout the night. Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke sparred over how to produce effective gun legislation. O’Rourke stuck to his hard-line stance on an assault weapons ban, while Buttigieg argued the political consequences such a law would bring about. Kamala Harris sided with O’Rourke, while Warren and Amy Klobuchar suggested voluntary buybacks. As of last August, a Gallup poll suggests that 47% of Americans would support an assault weapons ban.

On taxes, Joe Biden positioned his plan as a rational alternative to the wealth tax proposed by progressives. He briefly suggested ending tax loopholes and raising the capital gains tax rate, before lamenting on the brief speaking times allowed by the moderators.

On reproductive rights, there was resounding support for codifying Roe v. Wade.

There were minor disagreements when Buttigieg suggested expanding the size of the Supreme Court to 15 justices. Buttigieg explained that under his plan, only with the unanimous support of 10 justices could the remaining five be appointed. Cory Booker and Biden rejected this idea, calling it “court-packing.”

Democrats were in nearly unanimous agreement on several key issues, though. All agreed that some measure of retaliation against Russia is necessary for their meddling in the 2016 election. O’Rourke and Tom Steyer went as far as to suggest freezing President Vladimir Putin’s bank accounts. To prevent future foreign interference, Klobuchar suggested implementing back-up paper ballots at the polls.

Looming in the background that night was a subtle hum of urgency. The debate began with a horrifying question: “Why shouldn’t voters decide Trump’s fate instead of [Democrats] pursuing impeachment?” Warren opened with what should be an obvious assessment of the situation, “sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics.”

The Ukraine scandal is indeed bigger than politics. Yet, Trump has been able to convince large swathes of his supporters otherwise. First, it was by attempting to delegitimize the whistle-blower complaint. This position fell apart after the White House released a polished transcript of the infamous call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On the call, Zelensky told Trump, “We are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”

To which Trump replied, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” and asked Zelensky to look into a former investigation of Burisma Holdings, a company for which Biden’s son, Hunter, once worked.

Since then, CNN reported that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has publicly admitted that the White House withheld $400 million in aid from Ukraine to help the Trump administration dig up dirt on the DNC.

With credible allegations against them, the White House has also released an official notice to the House of Representatives that they would not comply with any subpoenas related to the impeachment inquiry.

The worst thing Democrats could do is make this a political issue. That’s why I was stunned when they spent the first 20 minutes of this debate talking about the impeachment inquiry. It’s spectacles like these, where the entire opposition party stands up on stage and reprimands the president, which causes people to plug their ears and cry “witch hunt.” Even worse, hyper-focusing on the president makes it seem as though the Democrats have no ideas of their own.

It’s important to talk about the impeachment inquiry, but the Democrats need to be aware of context. If they focus so much time in their debates on this issue, they risk making it more political than it deserves to be. Besides, Trump is poised to win the coming election by a landslide. It may take a political revolution to stop him from seeing a second term.

The next Democratic debate is scheduled to take place on Nov. 20. According to Newsweek, candidates must poll at 3% or more, in four or more national polls to qualify. So far, only eight candidates have met this mark.

As the election draws nearer, we should expect to see more coherent and meaningful debates. The field is thinning out, and with that, progressives and moderates will be better able to hash out their differences on issues like health care, gun reform and taxation. If this last debate proves anything, it’s that the Democrats are well prepared to discuss their plans for a better America. It will be for the voters to decide whose vision is the best.

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