My Immediate Thoughts After Watching Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate
I fully support….am working on behalf of….have contributed to….and will vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders once the Nevada Caucus comes to my home state next February.
I am mistrustful of….deeply concerned about….suspicious towards….and have far less enthusiasm for Sec. Hillary Clinton. Assuming she eventually becomes the Democratic Party nominee, she will have some serious work to do in order to win my favor and thus earn my vote.
All that said, Hillary Clinton won tonight’s Democratic Presidential debate.
I don’t like admitting this. Frankly, I find her party establishment groupies to be a grotesque embarrassment. They, and all too often those they support, have repeatedly sold out the real progressive movement that’s been simmering on the political left for decades now, we who have been begging for this generation’s version of an FDR promising a “New Deal,” conjoined with the reincarnation of LBJ who will fight to build a “Great Society.” That is what we seek — a new deal and a great society, for everyone. Accordingly, we progressives are enraged at the Democratic Party mainstream and many of those officeholders currently in power — for daring to pretend they are liberal, and then jumping into bed with bankers, corporations, the medical establishment, defense contractors, and corrupt lobbyists once they abandon their campaign rallies and think no one is watching. Sen. Harry Reid, pick up the white courtesy phone — the mining industry on Line 1, and your buddy Sheldon Adelson on Line 2.
I look upon Sec. Clinton’s strong support among minorities to be particularly unnerving, given that nothing — and I do mean NOTHING AT ALL — will change in America for the economically disadvantaged, that is unless we start electing truly transformational leaders who are ready to shake up the political system, lead with some courage and conviction, and help to educate the mass public, instead re-electing so many frauds who pretend to be in our movement embracing liberal ideas while out on the campaign trail, but then abandoning noble causes and morphing into moderates and conservatives once they get elected to office.
I once wrote that Sen. Bernie Sanders is far too honest, has way too much integrity, and is a man of profoundly more character than is required to win a national presidential election. He’s better than that which is required of him to become in order to win. He refuses to go negative nor get down and dirty, proven once again by his obviously unrehearsed crowd-pleading comment earlier tonight during the debate that he won’t go after Sec. Clinton, insisting with his fist pounding on the lectern for emphasis, “we’ve heard enough about those damned e-mails!”
I’ve also commented many times that Sen. Sanders is a flawed candidate, just as they all are. He doesn’t fit the presidential mold, not at all. He doesn’t smile very much. Question: Why must candidates smile? Aren’t we discussing serious issues and offering solutions? Why should anyone be smiling while up onstage talking in front of 10 million people? I tend to deeply mistrust candidates who smile for no reason whatsoever, and Sec. Clinton smiled a lot tonight. Why? Because that’s part of what it takes to get elected. Why must we insist that our candidates wear masks and pretend they’re always happy all the time? A pet peeve.
I don’t understand Americans want to like the candidate they chose to vote for. Why? I don’t give a damn if a candidate is likable or not. Why should I? In fact, I don’t want someone who is likable. I want a ball buster who will stand up to the evil powers and the corrupt influences of power, those out there who will do everything possible to stop progress. I want a pit bull of a politician standing in my corner. I want a prick fighting for me — not a nice guy. If you’re selecting an attorney to represent you, do you want someone nice — or tough? So, why are we at all concerned whether a candidate seems nice? As I said, a pet peeve. Fuck nice.
I wish Sen. Sanders had answered two questions more convincingly than he did tonight. First, he needs to do a much better job of giving sound bite descriptions of what “democratic socialism” really means. One realizes, of course, that can’t totally be summed up in just 90 seconds. However, Sen. Sanders has to directly connect the policies that have proven to work so well in social democracies and give concrete examples as to how they can improve the lives of most Americans. Second, he has to know he’s going to take some hits as he continues to gain traction in the polls and assumes the void as the only real threat to Sec. Clinton’s nomination. Sen. Sanders’ professorial approach appeals to political leftists and news junkies like myself, but doesn’t endear himself nearly as well to blue-collar laborers or lower-educated voters who may watch only a few minutes of the debate, and not understand a thing about the economy of foreign policy. That’s a gap that must be bridged somehow.
I pitied the three other candidates in the race, two of whom looked lost, and at times were terrible. Sec. Jim Webb probably had an argument that he wasn’t getting enough time or attention in the debate, but he also had to realize that most of the attention would be focused on the two main rival front runners — Sec. Clinton and Sen. Sanders. Sec. Webb should have used his time more effectively to share his message instead of attacking the moderator, CNN’s Anderson Cooper who did a very thorough and fair job with the questioning and follow ups. As for Lincoln Chafee, he should withdraw from the race tomorrow morning. His 15 seconds are up.
I was pleasantly surprised by Gov. Martin O’Malley, who had the best closing argument in the debate. He showed himself to be presidential for the most part, even though he likely faces an impossible task and a monumental uphill battle to become politically relevant. Had Sec. Clinton not performed well tonight, Gov. O’Malley might have picked up some traction. But it’s tough to see where his support would come from at this point. Should he continue to perform well and improve his poll numbers somehow, it’s not too early to think he’d be a contender for the vice presidential slot, particularly on a Clinton-led ticket. By the way, there’s no chance whatsoever of a Clinton-Sanders ticket. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.
I think the biggest loser in the debate was two-fold. First, Vice President Biden’s chances of being elected were dealt a setback, assuming he’s really flirting with the idea of a third run. I tweeted earlier that if VP Biden was secretly warming up in the bullpen, he likely grabbed his jacket and went back to the dugout after watching this presidential debate. Which leads me to the second loser, which was the Republican Party. Although watched by far fewer likely voters, what we saw was a substantive debate on the major issues, without resorting to insults and personal attacks. Democrats talked about climate change, national security, economic inequity, the criminal justice system, health care, gun control, reproductive rights, and real issues that matter in the lives of 318 million Americans. Contrast the content and tone of the Democratic presidential debate versus what we watched and heard in two debates among Republicans — which included insults towards women, bashing immigrants, pandering to Israel, thumping the Bible, threatening more wars, all sandwiched in between childish attacks on each other led by a bully front runner.
I am incensed that the Democratic Party is holding just six debates overall, despite loud protestations by just about everyone not connected to the Clinton campaign. Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a flunky for the Clinton campaign and is stacking the deck against any challengers. By limiting debates and denying critical exposure to other candidates who have no other way to attract a mass audience, she and all those who favor this corrupt process are trying to protect the front runner from potential pitfalls while greasing the political skids for the establishment candidate. Regardless of what happens in this campaign, Wasserman-Schultz needs to be recalled and removed from her post as soon as possible. Please bring back Donna Brazile.
I fear this race might be over before it’s even begun, long before a single vote has been cast or a primary has been held. Sen. Sanders must broaden his base over the next three months and must also win in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then it might be an interesting political ballgame, although he’d still be a long shot to win the nomination. I’ve written this before, that this campaign isn’t about winning in 2016, not if we end up electing another candidate who refuses to try and transform much of a broken system. As it stands now, even if we acknowledge some of this is not her fault, Sen. Clinton will be just as polarizing a figure and a lightning rod if she gets elected as President Obama is to the opposition party today. Assuming we are in for more government gridlock, let all get behind a candidate offering real change, for a change — and that candidate is Sen. Bernie Sanders.
I would bet serious money on Sec. Clinton, that she will be the Democratic Party nominee and would even lay long odds on that proposition. I’m convinced the deck has been stacked. But that won’t stop me still from voting my conscious, speaking out wherever I can, and fighting for real progressive causes and changes. I urge all my fellow progressives to do the same. We might not win in 2016, but with each conversation and debate comes the potential for a new convert. It’s not about winning the next election. It’s about saving a country for future generations.
Congratulations, Madam Secretary. You did well tonight. But the road is long, and we’re not going anywhere. We progressives are here to stay.