by Natalie and Himani
Last night, for the second time in less than a week, the Democratic candidates for president got together to debate the nation’s most pressing issues. It was the final debate before Saturday’s South Carolina primaries and next week’s Super Tuesday slate.
Because you’ve already heard from me on a lot of these issues already this week, I recruited one of Autostraddle’s newest contributors, Himani — the brains behind our expansive political survey — to join me to discuss all the fireworks from Charleston.
Natalie: So, I’ve watched each and every one of these debates — even dating back to when the field was so big, networks carried them over two nights — but you haven’t, right? Is this your first debate of the primary season?
Himani: Yes, it is. Actually I think this is the first primary debate I’ve ever watched.
Natalie: That’s interesting! Do you not watch primary debates because you don’t want to see Democrats attack each other or is it something else?
Himani: For as long as I’ve been able to vote — 2008 was my first election — I always knew I would solidly vote Democrat so it felt a little like “oh well, why does this matter?” I realize now how ridiculous that sentiment is. I also read a lot more news than I watch, so debates are just not a great format for me to try to get a sense of who the candidates are and where they stand on issues I care about.
Natalie: So as a newcomer to the primary debate experience, how was it watching this debate?
Himani: It was… something. Coming into this knowing a bit about the candidate’s political records and policy positions, honestly it’s hard not to feel a little jaded to watch them spin what they’ve done or what they actually believe in to something that sounds good on TV. And then for so much of it they were all just really ripping into each other and you could almost see the moments where some of them were like “shit…what are we doing right now…we need to keep our eye on the prize and that is ripping apart Trump and the Republicans.”
Natalie: This debate was an absolute shitshow. The worst debate of the primary season, hands down. I was almost sorry I asked you to tune in.
Himani: You shouldn’t be. What were some of the things that made it a shitshow? What were some of the things that happened that made you cringe the most?
Natalie: I think political moderating is a very unique skill and not everyone can do it… and Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King just seemed unprepared for the onslaught. Then once one candidate saw that they could get away with talking over others and going over the allotted time, it became a bit of a free-for-all.
Himani: I was wondering about that. There was A LOT of talking over each other. I think what was also striking was how off topic the candidates were, right from the beginning when Bloomberg came swinging at Sanders about Russian interference in the primary on behalf of Sanders but the question from the moderator was about the low unemployment rate.
Natalie: Oh yeah! Candidates were like, “I’m going to talk about whatever I want whenever I want”… like when Pete pivots from a question on Syria to answering something about healthcare.
The thing that made me cringe, though? Probably the reactions from the audience. It was so disruptive and offensive, at points, that it was really frustrating.
Himani: Oh interesting, I didn’t pay much attention to that. Can you talk a little more about that? Also, who is the audience in these debates usually?
Natalie: According to the DNC, all candidates were given equal allotments of tickets, but there seemed to be a disproportionate number of Bloomberg supporters. There was one early exchange between Bloomberg and Warren where she’s rightly criticizing him for “allegedly” telling a pregnant employee to get an abortion when the audience just started booing.
Himani: Yeah, that moment was really hard to watch. It felt like the moderators also didn’t really help and just kind of rushed that along. The way the whole situation played out, it felt like Warren had been out of line for raising it at all. But I don’t think she was.
Natalie: I don’t think she was either. That moment was, perhaps, the most shocking moment of the debate for me because I hadn’t heard that story before. What moment or moments stood out for you?
Himani: I was surprised that Idlib came up. What’s happening there is truly atrocious. What we’re seeing in Idlib now is a long time coming, so the question felt really flat to me, to ask candidates “What would you do to push back regime and Russian forces and stop the killing of innocent civilians?” when really the question should have been “What would you have done to prevent this crisis in Idlib?” or “What do you think the long term strategy needs to be with Syria given that Assad seems poised to regain all rebel territory?”
Natalie: Did anyone answer that question to your satisfaction?
Himani: Warren started off her response by saying that the US needs to provide humanitarian relief, and I think she’s right. Earlier in the debate, the moderators had asked about bringing combat troops back from the Middle East. Warren’s response to that question was we need to strengthen all of our tools — the State Department, alliances, a strong global economy — not just the military. When discussing Idlib, she re-emphasized that point.
Bloomberg’s response to the question on combat troops was striking too, though. He said that we should cut back the military as much as we can but “if we learned something from 9/11, people plan things overseas and execute them here… this is a dangerous world. And if we haven’t learnt that after 9/11, I don’t know what’s going to teach us [that].” I was shocked to hear that sentiment come up in that way in a Democratic debate in 2020.
Highs & Lows
Michael Bloomberg – Former Mayor of New York City, New York
Himani: Bloomberg was the strongest when he talked about gun control because he actually has some credibility in that arena.
Natalie: Agreed. I think Bloomberg’s strongest when it comes to talking about his success with Moms Demand Action and getting gun control legislation passed in 20 states.
Himani: Every time he talked about his record in NYC. It was painful to watch him gloating about how much he improved education in NYC or increased affordable housing when those areas are still serious issues in New York in no small part because of his policies as mayor. Also, on stop and frisk, where all he could say was, “We let it get out of control,” which is an utter failure to acknowledge that the policy was racist no matter the extent to which it was implemented.
Natalie: I agree with you about the low as well… specifically on stop and frisk, I’m really frustrated by the way he’s allowed to rewrite history. The candidates talk a lot about the policy being racist — and it was — but he’s also distorting the truth on how it ended. Stop and Frisk ended because of a judicial mandate, period. Not because of Michael Bloomberg, not because of the Obama administration (as Biden suggested in the last debate), but because a court stepped in and ended it.
Pete Buttigieg – Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Himani: I think Pete’s strongest moment was at the beginning of the debate where he laid out the case for why Sanders would be a poor choice for the general election. He said, “If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump. Think about what that will be like for this country.”
Natalie: I agree that that opening salvo was one of Buttigieg’s strongest moments. I thought he nailed it when he said that Russia’s not particularly interested in who wins, they just want chaos.
Natalie: Buttigieg was was asked if Stop N’ Frisk was racist policy and he was happy to opine about that, despite his own lackluster record with policing in South Bend. I’m not sure people in glass houses should be throwing stones.
Himani: Yes, I was also incredibly frustrated by that. It felt hypocritical, and I was disappointed the moderators and the other candidates didn’t bring up any details about his record with race and policing. The other low for Buttigieg for me was just not playing by the debate rules. I felt like he was really one of the worst offenders when it came to cross talk and not staying on topic.
Elizabeth Warren – Senator from Massachusetts
Himani: I appreciated that Warren centered her answer on Israel around the idea that “it’s not up to us to determine what the terms of a two-state solution are.” So much of US foreign policy has been done from this standpoint of “America knows best,” but really there are no good solutions to any of these issues. There’s never been a good answer for how or how much the US should get involved, only that it almost always has gotten involved far too much and in the wrong ways when it was in the US’s interests to take down or put in a regime.
Natalie: For me, though, Warren’s high — and the most significant portion of the debate, in my view — was when she said we needed to get rid of the filibuster. She’s been candid about this from day one that unless we roll back the filibuster, the progressive agenda is DOA… and I was glad to hear that emphasized last night.
Natalie: It was interesting to hear Warren come out of the gate and offer her first real critique of Bernie Sanders. She talked about how she and Sanders agree on substance, like Medicaid for All, but she’s the only candidate to have provided any details for how to bring it to fruition, which his campaign hammered her for. I thought it was a good line of attack but that was it…she didn’t seem to broach the issue at all for the rest of the debate.
Maybe she chose not to because Sanders was getting hammered by everyone else and didn’t see the need to pile on but it did leave me questioning whether she’s willing to go toe-to-toe with Sanders.
Himani: To me, it felt a little like this debate escaped Warren. She was middle of the road in terms of speaking time and, more generally, it felt like she was often in the background while everyone else hashed it out. She tried to get in the fray in the beginning of the debate with Bloomberg and with Sanders, as you mentioned. Both times, though, it felt like a moment that just passed by, in part because of the way the debate was moderated and in part because she didn’t dig in the way some of the other candidates did.
Bernie Sanders – Senator from Vermont
Himani: Coming into this debate, the big controversy around Sanders was around his comments about the Castro regime and the question of whether Sanders was going to alienate voters by being too apologetic of authoritarian communist regimes. I think Sanders got a win on that front when he was able to turn this around to Bloomberg. At one point, Bloomberg implied that President Xi Jinping of China was responsive to his people because he was responsive to the politburo. Sanders responded to that forcefully by saying, “Who the hell is the politburo responsive to? Who elects the politburo? You have got a real dictatorship there. Of course you have a dictatorship in Cuba.”
Natalie: I’ve said it before but I think Sanders — though he seems to hate it — really shines when he talks about his personal story and then pivots to policy. We got to hear a little bit about that when he was asked if he was supportive enough of Israel. I wish he’d do more of it.
Himani: Though I thought Sanders fared well overall on the Cuba question, I thought it was a misstep for him to say his comments were no different from what Obama has said in the past. Obama isn’t running for president and Obama has never identified as a socialist.
Natalie: That’s a good point. For me — #unpopularopinion — Bernie Sanders has not been properly vetted to be president. He needs to be challenged and forced to confront his record so that, if he’s the nominee, we don’t have any October surprises. Last night was Sanders’ first real taste of it as the frontrunner and, suffice it to say, the Vermont Senator did not like it. He was overly combative, he fumed at points…even responding directly to boos from the audience. It was not the senator’s best night.
Joe Biden – Former Vice President
Natalie: I’m loathe to pick a winner from this debate because it was terrible, but if I had to, it’d probably be Biden. I thought he had a great debate and probably needed to have a great debate. My high for Biden, though, was probably his response to the CDC’s warnings that we’re completely unprepared for a potential pandemic. A steady, experienced hand is who you want at the wheel during a crisis and Biden sought to cast himself as that.
Himani: I agree. I think being able to connect the Coronavirus situation with his involvement in setting up an office during the Ebola crisis was a strong moment for Biden in this debate. It was one of the few times I felt like he was talking about his time as vice president and actually talking about something he must have had something of a hand in, rather than something that happened while he was part of the Obama administration. (Biden’s former chief of staff was the Ebola response coordinator).
Himani: The issue of the Obama administration’s response to 2016 election interference came up, and Biden’s response felt weak as to why Obama’s administration didn’t do more. He is a little stuck because I understand why that administration didn’t do more — Biden was right to put that on McConnell — but I think this is still a sore point for a lot of Democrats. For someone who loves talking about all the positive things he was peripherally involved in by being Obama’s VP, Biden didn’t seem prepared to talk about one of the catastrophes from the end of that time.
Natalie: Recently, Biden’s campaign dropped an ad attacking Sanders for openly pondering a primary challenge against Barack Obama in 2012 so I expected that we’d hear that attack on him last night and we did. The only problem, though, was the shot didn’t land cleanly… he kind of tossed it out, in response to a question about the economy, and it just didn’t reverberate the way it should have.
Amy Klobuchar – Senator from Minnesota
Himani: I thought Klobuchar had a strong debate. At many points she seemed like the only adult in the room. She was one of the only candidates who consistently came back to what the Trump administration has been doing, rather than just fighting with the other candidates. One of her strongest statements, “If we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we’re going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart.”
Natalie: Klobuchar definitely likes to take the mantle of the only adult in the room but I actually like it when she gets into the fray. I thought her high moment was when she and Biden got into a back and forth about the boyfriend loophole — the Violence Against Women Act only prevents access to guns for some relationships (married and/or sharing children) — and she was able to force him to acknowledge her leadership in trying to close that loophole.
Himani: There were many moments in this debate where it felt like the other candidates were either talking over Klobuchar or dismissing her. This happened with Sanders when she brought up the estimated cost of all of his programs and with Biden when she was talking about writing the bill to close the boyfriend loophole (on the subject of gun control). To me, this isn’t Klobuchar’s failing but rather speaks to ongoing issues about how women are treated in the political arena. It was difficult to watch such a gendered dynamic playout on national television.
Natalie: Klobuchar never gets attacked about her prosecutorial record in the way Kamala Harris did and it’s frustrating to watch. Last night, she voiced support for legalizing marijuana and I wondered why no one bothered to challenge her on her record. Just yesterday, The Intercept published a story about Klobuchar’s overzealous prosecution of a Minnesota resident for marijuana that led to the man’s deportation. At some point, she needs to answer for her mistakes.
Tom Steyer – Businessman
Himani: I knew next to nothing about this man before watching this debate and now I know… something.
Natalie: I thought Steyer’s best moment was when he attacked Republicans standing idly by and allowing this country to be attacked during the last presidential election. He said, “There was a hostile, foreign attack on our election last time and the president sided with the hostile foreign power… Where are all these patriotic Republicans who wave the flag, but when we’re actually under attack, they side with our enemies? It’s outrageous.”
Natalie: Two things: first, Steyer’s insistence on term limits is, perhaps, one of the stupidest policy prescriptions offered by almost anyone in the field. It may play well on TV but eliminating all institutional knowledge from Congress every 12 years would be a nightmare.
Also, I was surprised to hear Biden attack Steyer during the debate for his hedge fund’s investment in Corrections Corporation of America, a corporation that operates private prisons and detention centers across the country. Steyer seemed surprised by the attack and stumbled with his response.
Himani: I agree with you, Biden bringing up his investments in private prisons clearly caught Steyer off guard and it was one of the few things about Steyer that I remembered from the debate.
Mercifully, the next Democratic presidential debate isn’t until March 15 from Phoenix, Arizona. While I can’t promise you better moderators or more adherence to the rules, one thing’s a virtual certainty: South Carolina and Super Tuesday will ensure that some of the voices we heard from last night won’t make it to the stage in Phoenix.
Now it’s your turn? What’d you think of the debate?
Thanks to you both! I cannot handle watching these things but value knowing how it all plays out.
Natalie mentioning the first debates reminded me of Marianne Williamson. It’s kind of a fond memory. Not that she was suited for office, but she always had a moment, like putting reparations on the debate stage.
Thank you for the thoughtful coverage.
She was in Austin earlier this week, endorsing the Sanders campaign.
I was almost able to forget she was a thing.
It’s been a very long primary season.
came across this about the support for Bloomberg, booing for Sanders/Warren:
“Aside from allocations for the campaigns and media, a guaranteed ticket could only be obtained by becoming a sponsor of the debate, which came with a price tag ranging from $1,750 to $3,200, according to local news station Live 5 News.”
“Let me give you the facts: The tickets were divided up between the DNC, campaigns (with equal allocation), SC Dem Party, CBCI, CBS, and Twitter,” Hinojosa wrote in a tweet. “We invited local and community leaders, and DNC supporters. This is the most diverse audience.”
never thought about who gets to be in debate audiences. wondering how many of the seats went for cash (from any of the entities who had tickets to distribute) versus being distributed to community members who are regular people. the piece mentions price points being ‘inline’ with other debates, but it’s vague language which leaves a lot of wiggle room about how tickets can be acquired. if a chunk are going for $1750+, that’s artificially representing support for candidates who are friendly to folks who are well-heeled.
@msanon Yeah, these debates and early state events are financial boons for the state parties so that didn’t come as a surprise to me. Still, though, I don’t understand how a guy who’s not even on the ballot in South Carolina had such a raucous reception (or, frankly, why those folks weren’t removed from the audience for creating a disturbance).
I only watched part of it, and like Himani, haven’t watched the other debates of the primary season. (I did watch a highlight reel of Elizabeth Warren’s and everyone else’s attacks on Mike Bloomberg from the last debate.)
Overall, I hated the format? They were SO jumpy from topic to topic, and sometimes they would move on to the next question after only two or three of the candidates got to speak on the current one. Sanders and Warren had a few well thought out answers that I caught (education, Israel). Buttigieg was so bad at getting to the point! Klobuchar, in my opinion, was one of the best at actually answering the questions asked. Biden seemed grumpy. Bloomberg…was Bloomberg, mostly I don’t like him and really don’t want him to be the nominee. Steyer seemed okay, I guess, but I’ve already forgotten what he said about anything.
Anyway, I just put in my vote for Elizabeth Warren today (NC absentee voting, yay!). I’m sad that she’s not doing better – from my (admittedly limited) perspective, she and Sanders have similar aims, but she’s more specific about how she hopes to achieve them.
I agree with the #unpopularopinion
The moderators were so awful. They enforced the debate rules entirely arbitrarily to the point that the only good thing I can say is that they were so inconsistent it didn’t benefit any particular candidate, except maybe Bernie as he has a natural talent for talking over people. (Buttigieg needs to realize he will lose this fight every time).
I don’t like Amy Klobuchar but it was entirely unfair for the moderators to interrupt her final opportunity to speak because they, for some unknown reason, didn’t hear the answer she had clearly stated at the beginning.
Also Biden’s inability to be rebellious with regard to the rules even when he is actively trying to be was actually cute.
Anyway, Warren 2020!
@marri I thought Biden’s inability to be rebellious was kind of charming too.
I agree with you about the unfairness of how Klobuchar was interrupted! I felt that way about the question that was given to Warren, Bloomberg, and Sanders about moving the Israeli embassy, as well. Sanders didn’t answer it directly (Bloomberg did) but when Warren gave her reply of “let the parties decide” the moderators insisted she answer if she would move the embassy.
Geez, I’m sorry you both had to spend any more time with this fantastic mess of a “debate.” But I am appreciative you did– I definitely missed some things despite my usual nerdiness and investment (adhd nightmare).
I’ll cosign that #unpopular opinion! And Himani, your point about why it fell flat when Bernie went with the “Obama said it too” defense is so sharp. It didn’t work for me in real time, but I couldn’t put my finger on why because I felt like Bernie was both misrepresented in the framing of the issue and misrepresenting himself in his response. There are probably hundreds of comments Bernie and more mainstream politicians have in common, but Bernie uniquely identifies as a socialist. He should be able to grasp the significance of that even when it’s less convenient for his base. If his schtick is his candor, and he means it when he [rightly] calls for “being honest about foreign policy,” he should have been more thoughtful here.
I think this is a Bernie problem more broadly– I know his supporters will castigate me for seeming to care about style over substance, but I think there are substantive implications to Bernie’s combativeness and defensiveness. We’ve all worked for those men; they can’t concede any flaws and center their own emotional state of “very hurt and mad by this personal attack” over hearing out critics. (See: that time Bernie was angrier that CNN claimed he once said a [super common] sentiment that he didn’t really say than he was that “can a woman get elected?” dominated the media at significant cost to women candidates.) Sometimes critiques against him are legitimate, or at least coming from a place of real concern, but he responds to everything like it’s a witch hunt. Defensiveness like this doesn’t build diverse coalitions or foster collaboration. I know so many folks (mainly not white straight cis men) who have quit jobs we are passionate about because of bosses who are too hard to work with and don’t treat us as worthwhile collaborators in our own movements.
“I think there are substantive implications to Bernie’s combativeness and defensiveness.” I couldn’t agree with you more and the analogy you draw is incredibly apt.
While I have to respect every persons right to choose a nominee by their own standards….my own philosophy goes something like this when it comes to electing a politician.
Hypothetical example: if our beloved Riece decided to run for any kind of office it would seem a slam dunk to vote for her as a supporter of Autostraddle right? We all love Riece of course.
However if Riece also promised not to take corporate PAC money in order not to be influenced by big money and then went back on that promise just before super Tuesday and then dumped $9 million on big media ad buys in California would you not ask yourself wtf Riece? (Hypothetical remember:) That would be for me personally, a deal breaker. Unfortunately our beloved Riece is now compromised. (Again Sorry Riece) :0)
Unfortunately that is Elizabeth Warren right now. No matter how much I wanted to root for her shes really just been compromised and therefore I personally can’t trust her.
It ALWAYS comes back to who you take money from in politics.
Thats why the only candidate for me is Bernie.
I appreciate your comment, @sindeelou2, but you realize that you’re being inconsistent in your logic, right? You can’t hold one candidate to a standard but allow others to escape that same accountability.
Perhaps Elizabeth Warren has been compromised by the influx of PAC money but until this recent expenditure, she and Amy Klobuchar were the only candidates in the field who hadn’t been the beneficiary of PAC money. Is Pete Buttigieg compromised? Is Joe Biden compromised? Is Bernie Sanders compromised?
Sanders has benefited from PAC money during this campaign, that’s just a fact. He’s also skirting campaign finance rules about spending and coordination by establishing “Our Revolution” as a non-profit when it’s clearly a PAC. Why hasn’t that impacted your trust in him?
If you’re for Bernie, be for Bernie…that’s great. But what Warren said this week about PACs is, ostensibly, the same thing Sanders said in a forum in NH, so I don’t know why she gets maligned while Sanders escapes accountability. That doesn’t strike me as fair.
Sorry but I’m not sure the ‘facts’ are as clear as you might think.
Despite the common misconception, Bernie Sanders does not in fact have genuine super pacs based on the literal definition of the term. He does however have grass roots organizations representing WORKERS and young people and environmentalists and social justice champions fighting for and behalf of regular people and these ALREADY EXISTING organizations choose to support Bernie.
They are not SUPER pacs in the same way that Warrens ‘Persist’ Pac is a definitive pro Warren entity specifically created and dedicated for the purpose of supporting her campaign. It may be common to perceive them as one in the same but they are inherently different. For example, the fact that the National Nurses Union supports and endorses Bernie does not include them in the category of Super Pac because the union was not specifically created to prop up and support a particular candidate. They already existed and chose Bernie as their candidate to endorse.
Our Revolution is a grassroots organization devoted to progressive activism and leadership that recognizes candidates up and down tickets. To talk about them and organizations like Sunrise Movement in the same breath as super PACs devoted expressly to electing presidential candidates is an unfair and inaccurate comparison.
Believe me I was very encouraged by Warrens candidacy early on in the cycle.
Its unfortunate that the Warren campaign fell short of money lately and has to fall back on her promise of refusing Super Pac donations. Furthermore the optics look bad when your justification for breaking that promise is a weak explanation that she was somehow forced to accept Super Pac $ now after all because the other candidates simply continue to do so.
That being said, if there was no Bernie Sanders, Elisabeth Warren would have to be the ONLY other candidate on the ballot that I would allow my conscience to consider.
But please Natalie whatever you do, don’t let my progressive bias piss you off too too much because I really look forward to and enjoy your thorough and interesting analysis!
All the candidates falling back on Super PACs sucks. It really does. I am a Warren supporter and agree that the super PAC that sprung up is shady and should disclose its donors right away. This is only a partial excuse, because a full one doesn’t exist – but I do have to say that the nature of the race has changed since Bloomberg jumped in. Part of me is ok with fighting fire by fire in the face of his bottomless wealth, that is allowing him cut to the front of the line and skip the arduous process the rest of the candidates went through. Turn on any TV and you’d think he is the only candidate running. At least if the other candidates can afford more TV ads then the less involved voters who don’t watch debates will get exposure to the competing choices.
[I am counting Our Revolution in this only because they have refused to disclose their major donors (yes, they claim to have only gotten a handful of major donations in 2019, but they got many 6 figure donations in 2018 that they refuse to disclose to this day). I agree that outside of the confines of this race it serves a broader societal purpose, but the lack of disclosure is concerning.]
As Marri says, the issue, to my mind, is the lack of transparency around who the donors are. I tried looking up the definitions around politically active nonprofits, PACs and super PACs and it’s extremely fuzzy. Supporting the campaign of more than one candidate doesn’t make something not a super PAC, based on what I could find (https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacfaq.php)
As msanon says below, I do think none of the candidates is perfect. I find some of them to be more problematic than others but, ultimately, all of them to be less problematic than Trump. Even Bloomberg, who I absolutely hate. I hated him as mayor of NYC and I’m appalled that he’s bought his way into this race and has been allowed to completely rewrite his legacy in NY. Even still, he’s a better option than Trump. I wish I didn’t have to vote for the least bad person, but people’s lives are literally on the line, around the world.
What’s troubling to me is this recurring pattern of the language used to discredit women in politics, especially at the highest level of political campaigns. Saying one can’t trust Warren for taking undisclosed donations, when all the other candidates are doing that in one way or another, is (to my mind) on the same spectrum as the distrust that leads to women not being believed when they report harassment, discrimination or assault. Perhaps that’s an extreme comparison, but I am getting frustrated by hearing people in any context saying they can’t trust a woman when the facts are far from clear that she’s lying or hiding something.
Thanks again for your analyses and insights, both of you!
(Sorry correction: just a few 6 figure contributions to Our Revolution). I am personally not worried about either Warren or Bernie being “corrupted” by money support (unlike, say, De Blasio and Cuomo, my local political leaders) so it’s more about the principle of keeping undisclosed donors without the normal campaign limitations.
1st, super appreciate all the thoughtful comments and counterpoints folks are raising, along with the continued support from Natalie and Himani for the discussion. I really wish national political discourse worked this way.
2nd, I think each of the primary candidates has something we can find disqualifying while also having merits that that we find compelling over the rest of the field. The thing that scares me is that some folks get so invested in their nominee and so entrenched against other candidates. If folks say they either won’t vote, or will for for trump if their candidate isn’t the nominee, they are effectively saying it would then be better for trump to:
– commit further crimes against humanity, POC immigrants specifically
– ensure no climate change remediation will occur, and likely increase carbon impact to speed it up
– commit higher crimes and misdemeanors
– potentially pick another supreme court justice
– balloon government deficit spending and national debt
– defund essential services further to support government-breaking regressive tax cuts
refusing to vote for whoever is the democrat’s nominee really seems like a de facto vote for suffering. california is an example; the feds have withheld essential resources to deal with covid-19, where cases appear to be spreading to folks without exposure to the original source, not just due to incompetence, but also as political leverage. rational people would realize the virus is not going to stay on the pacific for long, but the administration is literally gambling with people’s lives.
really hoping folks think about things like this as the primary progresses.