Democratic Debate

The first democratic debate of the 2016 presidential race was held in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas on October 13th. The debate, moderated by Anderson Cooper, broke democratic debate records with an average of 15.3 million viewers. The debate allowed candidates, Senator Jim Webb, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee, to develop their political stances and gain the support of voters. Analysis of the debate was largely mixed between who won, many citing Hillary Clinton as the winner, others say Bernie Sanders won with his socialist approaches.

Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were the only two candidates that offered plans to decrease global warming. O’Malley declared that he is the “only candidate who would move to a clean electric grid by 2050,” meaning an electricity system generated entirely by zero-carbon sources of power, such as wind and solar. He would achieve this by making it “his first order in office.” Bernie Sanders mentioned that a carbon tax is essential for lowering emissions in the United States. But he also correctly noted that it would most likely be impossible to enact such a tax without campaign finance reform because many of the donors funding political campaigns oppose carbon tax, which is essentially a tax on fossil fuel consumption. Hillary Clinton chose to avoid the issue and instead of laying out a plan, she repeated the anecdote of how she and President Obama forced Chinese climate negotiators to strike a deal in 2009.

The candidates went out of their way to demonstrate their support for immigrants, with most of them saying they support allowing illegal immigrants some access to Obamacare and receiving in-state tuition for attending college. Asked whether illegal immigrants should have access to subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, Jim Webb said, “I wouldn’t have a problem with that.” All of which could not be more different from the Republican debates, where most of the candidates repeatedly declared their desire to rid the country of all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

An issue Bernie Sanders is passionate about is his commitment to taking on the big banks on behalf of the middle class. But in a series of rapid-fire exchanges, the other candidates onstage claimed the issue as their own, too. Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged that she respected the “passion” of Mr. Sanders on the issue, but she insisted that her plan for the banks is “more comprehensive.” Martin O’Malley, for his part, criticized Mrs. Clinton, accusing her of not being for “putting a firewall” between the banks and other, more risky investments that could lead to another economic collapse. The intensity of the exchanges underscored the importance of the issue in the Democratic primary, where progressive voters are looking for a president who will be tough on the rich.

Overall, the debate allowed candidates to develop their positions on various issues throughout the country. The debate also provided an opportunity for voters to become involved and knowledgeable in the 2016 election. The next debate is scheduled for November 14th and will air on CBS.