By: Sonali Mudunuri
Picture Credit: Jordan Gale, New York Times
With our current president’s term drawing to a close, the Democratic Party is beginning to crack down on the Democratic frontrunners for the upcoming November elections. Since the party originally had such a wide berth of candidates (who have either dropped out or simply not garnered enough support in the polls), it is up to them to sort through the varied opinions and plans of the current twelve prospects, as seen with the recent first Democratic Presidential Debate. This political discourse took place earlier this month on January 14th, 2020 at St. Aslem’s college in Manchester, New Hampshire. Only six candidates qualified for the debate: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigeg, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Amy Klochubar, and Elizabeth Warren. Some of the candidates were able to clearly express their ideas and came out looking stronger than others, whose arguments were weak and whose time to expand on his/her platform was limited. There are a variety of opinions on who truly “won” the debate, but there is no question that a few candidates shone more than the rest. For example, Amy Klobuchar took advantage at the small number of candidates onstage, and emphasized both her patriotism for America (especially with her background in the Midwest) and her desire for the impeachment of Donald Trump. Elizabeth Warren also found strength in her previous wins against Republicans and in the fact that she was able to overcome such obstacles as a woman. Joe Biden was another presidential prospect who held his own against the tough questions, although he did not leave much of a lasting impression as some of the other candidates took up more time and space on the floor. He even opened himself up to criticism (such as when he mistakenly said that the “wealthy are the only ones doing well in this economy” , or when he spun falsehoods about the Iraq War), but the spotlight remained instead on two particular candidates.An important aspect of the debate was the tension between Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Warren denounced Bernie and the other male candidates in the debate, saying the only two candidates present who had never been defeated in elections were her and Amy Klobuchar, the only other woman onstage. It is unclear to say who came out on top on the exchange, and this strain between the two candidates carried on until the end of the debate. Sanders emphasized his support of Medicare, and continually brought up the topic of climate change to discuss its severity and the importance of taking global warming seriously. This proved to be a win for Sanders, as candidate Tom Steyer was therefore unable to clearly express his ideas on climate change –– an issue he has built his campaign off of, and helps contribute to his approval ratings in polls. Pete Buttigeg was another candidate who performed well during the debate in several areas. The debate started off with a discussion of foreign affairs, which many assumed to be Buttigeg’s weak spot. However, he was firm in his expressing dedication to America’s foreign affairs, in both military and climate aspects. He additionally emphasized the danger of forest fires in Australia, and solidified the stance that it is America’s duty to send aid. The only clear loser of this most recent debate was Tom Steyer, who is performing poorly in polls and just barely passed the qualifications to participate in the debate. He has no strong foundation or issue that unites his supporters (some would argue it is climate change, but he has done a poor job of advocating even for that). Steyer’s lack of stage presence combined with the fact that his answers were fairly random and off-topic, and he is not likely to be a front running candidate anytime soon.