October 23, 2019
The race for the Democratic candidacy has been heating up over the past few months. Over the summer and through the start of the school year, there have been a series of debates between a varying amount of candidates, each trying to make their case for why they will dethrone the incumbent president.
The first couple of debates had to be split into two nights due to the plethora of qualified candidates. The list of qualified candidates was narrowed down to ten but went back up to twelve just recently when billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard met the prerequisites. They join a motley cast of Democratic candidates, from Joe Biden, former Vice President and man who cannot stress enough he was Obama’s Vice President, to Beto O’Rourke, former congressman from Texas and the current leader out of all the remaining candidates in time spent on DuoLingo.
Ezra Silver-Isenstadt, senior and co-leader of Young Democrats, believes that Elizabeth Warren, who he believes is “the strongest fighter out of all the candidates,” won the September debate and has earned his vote.
Isenstadt, who has canvassed for Calvin Ball and has attended the Maryland Democratic Party gala, says her message is “not a radical message, but it’s a strong message about how Washington works right now and exposing all the corruption.” Isenstadt added that “a lot of her policies resonate with a lot of America.”
Bella Saunders, senior and fellow co-leader, has profusely researched the candidates and played clips of the debate for her club to analyze. From the previous few debates, she has taken away that Bernie Sanders, while he has ideas she disagrees with, “grabs a lot of attention when he speaks, so I think he was always strong and owned the debate[s] over the summer.” Joe Biden, however, she believes, has not had the best debates, but still had some bright spots. “Biden floundered amidst [Kamala] Harris’ accusations, but especially when Castro came at him, he deflected it pretty well,” she elaborated.
Isenstadt agrees with Saunders when talking about how bad Biden is. “I think Biden does really poorly at debates. He fumbles things, he doesn’t answer clearly… he’s not great.” He also disagrees with Julian Castro’s methods, “going after Biden the way he did, especially because he got it wrong and made false statements.”
One candidate seldom mentioned by the nation’s democrats is Cory Booker, who Isenstadt said always performs admirably, has “a very optimistic message which is different from the other candidates.”
The upcoming October debate in Westerville, Ohio, will test how quickly the candidates can come up with a response. Saunders notes that the president has found some success with “quick sound bytes” and that the candidates need to think fast to win over the hearts of the democratic faithful. “Biden doesn’t have those skills, while someone like Harris or Buttigieg is more quick on their feet,” she said.
“I think Biden does really poorly at debates. He fumbles things, he doesn’t answer clearly… he’s not great.”
There are, of course, some candidates still in the select group of “unqualified, but still in the race.” One is Marianne Williamson, author and the definition of an anti-vax mom. She has said things like the Democrats would have to oust the president “with love”, we would be able to push away Hurricane Dorian with our minds, and that there is some “wonkiness” and a “dark, psychic force” that the president has cast down upon the current political landscape.
The aforementioned candidates were able to participate in the June and July debates, both of which were split up into two nights. Young Democrats sponsor Ms. Lynette Burns said she felt “disappointed” about the last few debates.
On the subject of people actually qualified to debate, there will be lots of things to look out for. This will be only the second time that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren share the stage in a debate for this election. The two heavyweights are competing for the affection of the more progressive voters, with the loser potentially relegated to being the winner’s Vice President. The rivalry between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris has simmered down, but will still be important considering Biden’s already large target on his back. Isenstadt said that something he will watch out for in the upcoming debate is how much the candidates focus on conveying their message vs how much they attack other candidates.
In the past few debates, there have been a few moments where a Democratic candidate has resorted to a zinger to discredit another’s point. One of the more notable ones so far was Bernie Sanders saying “I do know, I wrote the damn bill,” to representative Tim Ryan after Ryan said Bernie did not know that Medicare would cover dental care and other needs for senior citizens. Kamala Harris had one really good debate, in Isenstadt’s eyes, in which she went hard after Joe Biden. There have been other attempts to attack Biden laden throughout the debate, from representative Eric Swalwell telling him to “pass the torch” to Julian Castro haranguing Biden for making a gaffe.
For the Democrats, it is of utmost importance to keep an eye on the upcoming debate in October. The race is still in its opening stage and more minor candidates are starting to see a surge in popularity. The questions asked are relatively the same, but there are idiosyncrasies in their responses to questions and how they behave on stage. Saunders was quick to cite how O’Rourke and Castro spoke in Spanish from time to time. In the end, what the Democrats need, according to Isenstadt, is someone who has a message of unity, not disparity. “In the end, one of these candidates is going to be the nominee, and you don’t want to shred them all to pieces and do all of Trump’s work for him.”