Together for the first democratic debate this year, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chaffee all clamored for the spotlight in attempts to outshine their competitors.
Coming straight out of the gate with topics they felt strongly about, the candidates introduced themselves to the largest national audience they’ve had all year.
“They’re looking for a leader who understands how the system works, who has not been coopted by it, and also has a proven record of accomplishing different things,” stated Webb.
“The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing,” remarked Sanders.
After introducing herself last among the candidates, Clinton was immediately questioned on her political consistency. Anderson Cooper, the moderator, brought up the fact that Hilary had switched her primarily anti-same-sex marriage views to being in full support, and that she had backed President Obama’s trade deal at first, but just as of last week changed her mind.
Hillary, in the midst of applause, responded “I know how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground…”
Cooper asked each of the candidates questions about what they thought recent polls showed of their electability. Specifically in the former Vermont senator’s case, Cooper brought up the fact that Bernie Sanders identifies as a socialist and a Gallup poll revealed that half the country would not elect a socialist into office.
Sanders defended his views by declaring “What democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.”
When it came to Chaffee’s turn for a response, Cooper asked him about his recent switch to the Democratic side. The former senator verbally opened his records to scrutiny, and commented on his consistency with his ideals. Chaffee compared himself to a “block of granite” when it came to social issues and that it was the Republican Party that actually left him.
At this point in the debate, the camera turned to O’Malley when Cooper brought up the mass riots and chaos that went on in Baltimore last April. The former Mayor stated that, in the year previous to Freddy Gray’s death, arrests had fallen to a 38-year low.
“We gave our city a better future, improving police and community relations every single day that I was in office,” said O’Malley.
Jannell Ross, reporter for the Washington Post, argues that the idea that the arrests led to a better future is debatable.
“There’s a lot of evidence that mass incarceration does a whole lot of damage to entire neighborhoods, even among residents who have never been to jail,” annotates Ross on the CNN transcript of the debate.
Finally, nearing the end of the debate, one of the most relevant topics to McDaniel was brought up — college affordability. Sanders started off the discussion with the proposal that a college education nowadays is the equivalent of what a high school education was 50 years ago. He plans to fund this undertaking with a tax on Wall Street speculation.
Making college debts disappear may be just as difficult as it sounds, but in doing so it would ensure higher education for anyone who wants it.
When asked about what they thought of the debate students responded in similar ways.
“Lincoln Chaffee and Webb seemed unprepared,” stated McDaniel student Olivia Todd, adding, “I wasn’t a fan of Hillary either, she changes her political stance too much.”
Another student, Julian Lovitt, commented, “Bernie was the only one who actually answered the questions.”
The next debate is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Update: Since the writing and publishing of this article, Senator Jim Webb has dropped out of the race.