Clinton wins debate

Democratic primary lags behind Republicans’ in youth and in excitement

Front-Runner — Approximately 15.3 million people tuned in to watch the first Democratic primary debate of the 2016 election Oct. 13 on CNN held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Google Images

Front-Runner — Approximately 15.3 million people tuned in to watch the first Democratic primary debate of the 2016 election Oct. 13 on CNN held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Google Images

The Democratic candidates for president met for their first debate of the 2016 election cycle Oct. 13, and, not surprisingly, it was a rather boring affair. Fortune reported that more people watched the newest episode of NCIS than the Democratic debate on CNN. This stands in stark contrast to the two Republican debates that have already been held, which had almost 10
million more people watch per debate.

While many quickly seek to explain these numbers away by asserting that the presence of Donald Trump has turned the Republican debates into a soap opera/reality television show bonanza, there may be something deeper here that many are missing. Namely, that this year’s primaries are the exact opposite of those in 2008. That year, the Democrats had the primary with the most intrigue and greatest battle as then Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. Hillary Clinton fought for the nomination through 25 debates. The Republican primary, while not totally uninteresting, was always in the shadow of the spectacular fight that was taking place across the aisle.

In the 2016 race, the Republicans are the ones with the fascinating debates and the interesting, young candidates, while the Democrats are lagging behind. This is primarily due to the fact that there is only one real significant candidate on the Democratic side, and she has so many holes and flaws it is getting harder everyday to see her winning the presidency.

Clinton was the clear winner of this first debate, and while her performance was above average, her victory can be mainly chalked up to a lack of competition. Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post that Hillary is “up against three ciphers and one endearing, gesticulating, slightly unmoored old man.” That “unmoored old man,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, did not help himself during the debate last week. For a self-proclaimed socialist, Sanders’ views and voting record on gun control are better characterized as moderate than radical. He also continues to struggle with minority voters as a YouGov poll indicates that he is polling at just about “13 percent of Hispanics and 8 percent black voters in the Democratic primary.”

The rest of the candidates are absolutely irrelevant. Jim Webb spent most of his speaking time (which was admittedly very little) complaining about how he did not have time to speak.

Martin O’Malley may be the only politician in the world who uses the current state of the city of Baltimore as an example of a success story. The entirety of Lincoln Chafee’s appeal begins and ends with the fact that he looks strikingly similar to the turtle character, Master Oogway, from the first Kung Fu Panda movie.

The CNN crew, led by Anderson Cooper, did a much better job than most expected, and yet they failed to discuss multiple very important topics. There was no mention of the Planned Parenthood videos that have shocked the country or any discussion of ISIS. In addition, there was only one real question about Clinton’s email scandal, and she easily skirted around it with a lot of help from Sanders.

Maybe the most interesting moment of the debate was a bizarre but telling statement from Sanders: “We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

This short quote reflects the sharp move of the Democratic Party farther to the left over the last few years. Its candidates and platforms resemble those of the countries Sanders listed above more than those of the party’s past. It is hard to imagine Jack or Bobby Kennedy fitting into the Democratic Party today.

Sutherland is the opinion editor.

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