After the first debate between the Democratic Party presidential candidates that occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 13, there was a notable difference between last week’s debate and the last couple of Republican debates thus far.
Where ten Republican candidates stood by their podiums all clamoring to get airtime, the Democrats had only five hopefuls appear on stage. Where the Republican Party looked to the past, most specifically to the President Reagan era as exhibited by Reagan’s plane that overtook the stage during their debate to draw inspiration, the Democrats unanimously sought to look towards the future and determine what that would look like should they enter office.
Finally, seeing as the debates featured two different parties, each debate focused on separate issues.
Likely inspired by Republican candidate Donald Trump’s well-known immigration policy, immigration became one of the topics at the forefront.
Other areas covered by the Republicans included Planned Parenthood and each candidate’s strongly held pro-life beliefs, which woman should be the new face on the ten dollar bill, and the Kim Davis case (of which the majority who spoke about the topic in first and second Republican debate in September felt it was reflective of an anti-Christian climate in the United States).
On the other hand, the Democratic debate had less people to question and debate about each topic so they were able to cover a wider range of areas.
Some topics covered were gun control, paid maternity leave, the gender wage gap, foreign policy in Syria and Iran, healthcare, affordable college tuition, Wall Street, global warming, and systematic racism. For those who did not watch the Democratic debate, here are a few things that you should know about:
Firstly, there was Democratic candidate Hillary Clilnton’s e-mail controversy. When questioned about her e-mail scandal, Clinton stressed that she will openly testify about the matter soon and that she would much rather be talking about the current issues instead of her “mistake” she made eight months ago. Democratic candidateBernie Sanders jumped in with the following widely reported statement:
“Let me say something that might not be good politics, but I think the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of reading about [Clinton’s] damn e-mails! …Middle class in this country is collapsing, we have 27 million people living in poverty, we have massive wealth and income inequality, our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs, [and] the American people want to know if we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United, enough of the e-mails!”
Next, when Facebook user Sterling Arthur Wilkins sent the question to the candidates, “Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?” he received some notable responses. Sanders was first to answer, saying, “Black lives matter,” and citing Sandra Bland, an African-American woman who was sent to jail for a minor traffic offense and died there, as an example of systematic racism that requires immediate reform. This response aligns itself with Sanders’ previous participation in civil rights protests.
Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley added that, “As a nation we have undervalued the lives of people of color… If we were burying white, young, poor men in these numbers, we would be marching in the streets and there would be more of a reaction.”
Clinton took the question down a different route. She talked about mass incarceration and how President Barack Obama has “laid out an agenda that has been obstructed by the Republican at every turn”. She followed this with a statement of how this is the, “only bipartisan issue in the Congress this year” and that “we cannot keep imprisoning more people than anybody else in the world.” She never used the phrases “black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” or “racism” in her response, but she did mention in the last couple of seconds of her response that “communities of color and the poor” need “a better New Deal.”
Democratic candidate Jim Webb said, “Every life in this country matters,” and then detailed how he defended an African-American accused of being a war criminal. Democratic candidate Lincoln Chafee never got to answer the question.
Following this, the debate turned to gun control. Sanders stated that though he supported a ban on assault weapons, backed instant background checks, and wanted to “do away with this terrible gun show loophole” that the gun companies themselves who unknowingly sell guns to someone who does something crazy that they should not be held accountable. Instead, he called for universal healthcare to give the “suicidal and homicidal” people of this nation mental healthcare that they currently cannot afford and that taking the guns out of their hands would reduce gun violence.
Clinton felt that Sanders wasn’t tough enough on guns and brought up that “we lose 90 people a day from gun violence” and told the audience that this has “gone too long” and that “it’s time the entire country stood up to the NRA.”
O’Malley recalled recent shootings and said, “It’s time we stand up and pass comprehensive gun safety legislation”. Webb, on the other hand, stated that, “We need background checks…but we have to respect the tradition in this country of people who want to defend themselves from violence.” Meanwhile, Chafee called for Congress to “bring the gun lobby” and ask them where they could find “common ground” for gun legislation.
Lastly, when questioned about the greatest enemy they have made in their political careers, all of the candidates infused their final words with passion about how they’ve represented the people and fought against injustice.
However, it was Webb who stole the show when he replied, “I’d have to say [my greatest enemy] would be the enemy soldier who threw the grenade and wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.”
There were many noteworthy responses to the debate. As of Friday, Oct. 16, Sanders gained 200,000 new followers on Twitter, having the greatest increase of all of them. Clinton received acclaim from CNN for her polished demeanor and statements that she won, despite CNN’s Facebook polls all resulting in Sanders winning.
The debate is available to watch on YouTube.
Halle Nelson is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in English literature and deaf studies. She can be reached at HN824858@wcupa.edu.