Democratic Debate Wrap-Up

So, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met in Milwaukee last night for another debate. I watched and live-tweeted it; for anyone who would like to see those tweets, I've collected them in a Storify.

The Washington Post has a complete transcript of the debate.

My primary takeaways:

1. The Democratic debates are infinitely more substantive than the Republican debates. It's genuinely shocking (and terrifying) how huge the disparity is.

2. Sanders is not merely passionate about wealth inequality; it is virtually all he cares about. His opening statement, his closing statement, and any answer to any question that could possibly be answered thus were dedicated to wealth inequality. Even when he is asked to speak about racism or sexism, he talks about wealth inequality. He does not seem amenable to embracing an intersectional analysis at all. Racism? Solve it with jobs and education! Sexism? Solve it with jobs and education! The thing is, he was standing onstage next to arguably the most privileged woman in the world, who is also subjected to arguably the most relentless misogyny in the world. She doesn't need a job or a free college education. She needs her whole humanity respected, and breaking up the banks won't make that happen.

3. Clinton takes strong issue with this approach. Her closing statement was, frankly, killer:

We agree that we've got to get unaccountable money out of politics. We agree that Wall Street should never be allowed to wreck Main Street again.

But here's the point I want to make tonight: I am not a single-issue candidate, and I do not believe we live in a single-issue country. I think that a lot of what we have to overcome to break down the barriers that are holding people back, whether it's poison in the water of the children of Flint, or whether it's the poor miners who are being left out and left behind in coal country, or whether it is any other American today who feels somehow put down and oppressed by racism, by sexism, by discrimination against the LGBT community, against the kind of efforts that need to be made to root out all of these barriers, that's what I want to take on.

And here in Wisconsin, I want to reiterate: We've got to stand up for unions and working people who have been at the core [applause] of the American middle class, and who are being attacked by ideologues, by demagogues. Yes, does Wall Street and big financial interests, along with drug companies, insurance companies, Big Oil, all of it, have too much influence? You're right!

But if we were to stop that tomorrow, we would still have the indifference, the negligence, that we saw in Flint. We would still have racism holding people back. We would still have sexism preventing women from getting equal pay. We would still have LGBT people who get married on Saturday and get fired on Monday. And we would still have governors like Scott Walker and others trying to rip out the heart of the middle class by making it impossible to organize and stand up for better wages and working conditions.

So I'm going to keep talking about tearing down all the barriers that stand in the way of Americans fulfilling their potential, because I don't think our country can live up to its potential unless we give a chance to every single American to live up to theirs. [cheers and applause]

4. I found Sanders' general demeanor extremely unappealing, particularly his snide snipes at Clinton. They only had this debate because he wanted more of them (probably assuming Clinton would say no and he could use that against her whooooooops), and I'm not sure that people seeing more of this act is going to work in his favor.

5. The narrative going into this first post-New Hampshire debate was that Sanders would be confident and Clinton would look desperate. It was precisely the opposite.

Quite honestly, I started out with a much more favorable opinion of Bernie Sanders than I have now. The more I see of him, the less I like. That's largely because the more I see of him, the more I realize how little there is. He is a one-issue candidate. And he believes that one issue is the root of all ills. I disagree. Which doesn't leave us much common ground. Oh well.

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