Scott Olson / Staff

Scoot: What’s the difference between Joe Biden and a piñata?

August 01, 2019 - 1:42 pm

After two debates with a total of 20 Democratic candidates, does the Democratic Party stand for: open borders or closed borders, Medicare-for-all or improving the current healthcare system, free healthcare of all undocumented workers or not free healthcare for undocumented workers, decriminalizing crossing the border or not decriminalizing the border and a progressive approach or a moderate approach? The answer is “yes” – the Democratic candidates ran the gambit and collectively expressed a wide range of views, but that is not a bad thing at this point in the election process.

Again on Wednesday night, the Democrats on the debate stage expressed progressive and moderate ideas. Since he was the clear frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden was a popular target. The only difference between Joe Biden and a piñata is that you stop beating a piñata after about 15 minutes!

Biden, who held a huge lead over all other challengers leading into the debate, showed a weak and vulnerable side and personified the idea that he might be too old to be president. Biden was challenged on some of President Obama’s record and did not do a very good job of defending his time as vice president. The only defense would have been for Biden to articulate the reality that vice presidents are more figure-heads than policy-makers, but he failed to do that.

One of the key topics, last night, was the idea of decriminalizing crossing the U.S. border illegally. Biden said that if you cross the border illegally – you should be deported; and he made the point that people should have to get in line. But decriminalizing crossing the border is supported by some of the Democrats.

Julian Castro, former Mayor of San Antonio, TX and former HUD Secretary under President Obama, said that “open borders” is a right-wing talking point. Senator Cory Booker said that we are not going to let people cross our border.

Republicans have successfully promoted the idea that all Democrats support open borders, and the Democrats have failed to challenge that false position.

Senator Kamala Harris – CA – who had a powerful performance in the first round of the debates, found herself on the defensive and, at times, failed to display the confidence from the first debate.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard – Hawaii – was the only military veteran on the stage; and she made powerful points about the role of the United States in recent wars while admitting that she enlisted after the 9/11 attacks. Gabbard appeared confident and successfully attacked Harris on her record as California’s Attorney General.

Senator Booker was talking about immigration and mockingly used the phrase “sh**hole countries” originally used by President Trump to describe the countries where immigrants migrants from.

One surprise standout was entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who was born in America to immigrants from Taiwan. Yang made powerful, common sense points; and as good as he was in the debate, the idea of electing an Asian-American seems more unlikely than electing a black person, Hispanic or a woman. That is not fair, but it seems reality for the 2020 election.

Climate change was elevated to the level of being an immediate threat to national security to America, and there is work to be done to convey climate change as an imminent threat.

Part 2 of the Democratic debates from the Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan also showed that the centrist/moderate voices within the Democratic Party are strong; and their proponents are prepared to stand up to the progressive voices that have tended to define the party over the past few years.

Similar to the battle between the conservative right and the moderate right the Republican candidates fought in 2016, the Democratic candidates are fighting a similar battle. When the smoked cleared in 2016 – the Republican Party chose Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. It will be fascination to see which candidate the Democrats nominate as they fight for a winning path to the White House.


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