All ten candidates warmed their hands and recited their introductions as they approached their assigned podiums during last week’s Democratic presidential debate at Texas Southern University in Houston. Here on campus, Lewis & Clark students sat comfortably in John R. Howard Hall 202 with chips in hand and homework aside. The debate, overall, succeeded in showcasing candidates’ ideas and informing prospective voters. Yet, the event and the candidates involved could not escape ample criticism, including my own.
Early in the debate, Joe Biden and Julián Castro acted out the final battle scene in “Game of Thrones” as they challenged each other’s position on healthcare buy-in programs. Given the current political strife between Democrats and Republicans, intra-party conflict is the last thing voters need to see. If anything, voters wish to see a party with a united front, and if used strategically, this could potentially defeat Trump in the upcoming election. Amy Klobuchar made an excellent remark about being the candidate to meet the country in the middle, to bring both parties together. Klobuchar’s message communicated togetherness, and that should have been seen more on the debate stage. If the candidates cannot manage to do that, winning the 2020 election will prove to be more difficult than anticipated.
While I understand the candidates have little time to get their points across, a few candidates need to choose their words with better care. When asked about how he would confront our nation’s history of slavery, Biden began to answer a previous question about giving aid to Venezuela and other Latin American countries. His erratic and incoherent responses resembled Donald Trump’s impulsive and foolish behavior. I am not arguing that Trump is a better president than Biden would be. Rather I think any democratic candidate’s presidency would make Trump’s time in office look more pitiful than it already does. In order to take back the White House, the party needs to endorse a candidate who shares no comparisons with Trump, and so far Biden has failed to meet that description.
My final critique can be illustrated in the following hypothetical: if I were to play a drinking game based on how many times Barack Obama was referenced during the debate, this article, along with myself, would cease to exist. Yes, the Obama administration strengthened the party and it is dearly missed, but for the love of God, we need to move on! The Trump administration has created much devastation across our country and those abroad, but to combat these hard times we need to look forward, not backward.
We all have our preferences for whom we wish to see in the Oval Office, but I think Democrats can agree that none of the candidates are more dangerous than this monster our country managed to elect. Take your anger, your passion and your eagerness to improve this country to the voting booth. And if you are debating whether to vote in the primary, just remember what Cory Booker said: “It’s not about the people in power. It’s about the power of the people.” And that includes you, too.