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Democratic Debate Makes Presidential Contest Clearer

October 14, 2015
Plain English Version
From l. to r. Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee.

From l. to r. Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee.

The Democrats debated for two hours on Tuesday night. It was long, but it was not boring.

All eyes watching the show were on Hillary Clinton. She had the most to lose if her performance failed to impress viewers. She did not fail. Most observers say she improved her standing as the front-runner of the Party.

Bernie Sanders is the candidate who is trying to overturn long odds. He says he is a socialist. There is not much agreement on what being a socialist means. He is not for government ownership of industry. He wants railroads, airlines and oil companies to stay safely in private hands. He is more like a democratic socialist of the kind found in Europe. He wants the economy to benefit workers. He wants to increase all kinds of benefits. He wants to tax the rich to achieve these goals.

The other debaters were Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee. They are all former senators or governors and, in some cases, sometimes both. Their performances at the debate did not improve their chances to be the Democratic candidate.

So what are the real issues? Debates are about choosing the nominee for the Party. They are not about choosing the president. The candidates must impress the people who will vote in the states’ primaries. Those voters tend to be the people who are the most active in politics. They usually have strong views.

Debaters take extreme positions to woo voters with extreme views. You can see this very clearly in the Republican debates. For example, consider their views on undocumented immigrants. Donald Trump wants to export them. Most Republicans want to deny any chance at legalization for the undocumented. Most Democrats support immigration reform.

At this point, the Republicans look like a television reality show. The Democrats look far more like PBS.

Source: The Wall Street Journal October 14, 2015

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