My Impressions from the Second Democratic Debate
All twenty candidates were head and shoulders (and then some) preferable to the current occupant of the White House. They were intelligent, honest, principled, and their substantial differences were for the most part well articulated.
The candidates I enjoyed the most were: Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson and John Delaney. Yang made his pitch for universal basic income with humor, facts and a really prescient sense of the manufacturing job challenges we face as a nation. Williamson captivated me with her image of Trump as a bad psychic cloud hanging over our nation – a “'dark psychic force of collectivized hatred”. Delaney made the most compelling critiques of Warren’s wealth tax and Medicare for All. He pointed out the potential constitutional challenges to the wealth tax and suggested instead taxing capital gains income at the same rate as wage income, equalizing the respective tax burdens on workers and capital shareholders. With respect to Medicare for All, he suggested “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and pointed to the political and financial challenges of taking away employment based coverage from 150-180 million American workers.
I thought Warren and Sanders did a very good job of defending their proposed policies. However Bernie just yells all the time, which I find tedious and far less effective than Warren’s more earnest efforts to inform and persuade. It seems to me that Warren has followed Bernie off into un-electability terrain on certain aspects of health care and immigration. Decriminalizing border crossing and the huge tax increases necessary to achieve their goals of free college, wiping out college debt, and free health care don’t seem to me to be a winning strategy for the 2020 general election. She is the candidate most clearly on the rise while Senator Sanders appears to have plateaued. Among the leaders, she is the best able to articulate and defend her positions on the issues.
Biden took quite a beating, but stood up to it and dished it right back. His stances on the very same issues seem far more likely to prevail in a 2020 general election. I think he is missing an overarching view for the nation, which he needs to be able to clearly and persuasively articulate — a return to normalcy is not enough for our troubled times.
I have grown to really like Governor Inslee and Representative Ryan, who have both done an excellent job of articulating economic growth and global warming/climate change issues and solutions. I wish they could make the cut for the next debates.
Senator Harris did a poor job of explaining and defending her proposed health plan, a plan that I think is far preferable to the Warren/Sanders version of Medicare for All. She needs to get more comfortable explaining it and defending it. I think her plan gives less heartburn to all of those who might well prefer a private coverage option since that’s the way Medicare works right now, and her proposed financing, while still extremely challenging, is more palatable to the middle class. Then she did a total face plant when attacked on her criminal justice record by Representative Gabbard.
I thought Booker, Buttigeg, Klobuchar and O’Rourke did nothing to really stand out, but also did nothing to harm their candidacies. I’d like to see and hear where they stand on the issues and their visions for the nation. The moderators need to give them more questions and more time in the limelight. The format is far too truncated (a minute to answer) to have good discussions, debate and dialogue about the really important issues facing the country, and the moderators are far too focused on producing sound bites for the nightly news, than really allowing the candidates to explain their positions.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin