I’ll keep this one short and sweet. This was actually a really good debate. Both candidates, though throwing barbs, did so pretty graciously and operated with a good deal of respect for one another. Maybe it’s just the eternal peacekeeper in me, but I was glad to see it. It was also nice to finally get down to a two-candidate format. Martin “30 more seconds” O’Malley seems like a nice enough guy, but being free from his interjections actually made a considerable difference in allowing Hillary and Bernie to get into the nitty gritty policy questions.
The question of progressivism loomed large, and both candidates were quick to establish themselves as the VIP (Very Involved Progressive). Their arguments, paraphrased, were basically:
Bernie: I am a lifelong progressive! I am not beholden to Wall Street! I have big ideas! You can’t be both a moderate and a progressive, Hillary!
Hillary: No I am a lifelong progressive! Don’t cherry pick quotes! I get things done and won’t make promises I can’t keep! I can shout, too!
Sanders preached progressivism as revolution and Clinton preached progressivism as pragmatic governance. I guess if you’re talking “progress,” there’s room for either interpretation. Though speaking in terms of ideology, it seems rather obvious that Sanders carries the mantle on the progressive cause.
Hillary’s claim to not be “establishment” because she’s potentially the first female presidential nominee was an almost laughable stretch. Hillary is just about as establishment as they come. But it’s cool, Hill. I think you should just embrace it, own it, and establish yourself (see what I did there?) as a top party contender because you know the party and how it works. Bernie has the outsider-thing on lock, and it’s working for him. Fighting him for that ground is going to go nowhere. Work with what you know, girlfriend.
As interesting as the debate was, though, the real winner of the night (which many people may not know) was actually my husband.
He humors me by watching these debates, but is not into politics whatsoever. During the first hour I asked him what he thought, as the resident “non-political guy.” Who was winning? Whom did he like better? His response: “I like what Bernie is saying and how he’s saying it. He’s fiery and exciting.” What about Hillary, I asked? “I don’t know. She just kind of sounds like she’s gonna do things the exact same way as before.” So – a pretty dead-on assessment, coming from a guy who later in the night said this:
“Oooooo that was a tough answer! Bet she’s gonna really FEEL THE BERN on that one, right honey?” *nudge nudge*
When I didn’t reply immediately, he nudged me again. “Did you hear what I said there? FEEL the BERN? Get it?”
At this point I shot him what I’m quite sure was the world’s most perplexed/astonished/amused expression, because was he seriously making this as an original joke? “You do know that that’s basically, like, his campaign slogan, right?” I asked.
He did not.
And so he wins, because adorable cluelessness always does. Except in the presidency.