Last night was the first Democratic debate between the five top possible candidates; Martin O’Malley, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb. The debate was on CNN and the moderator was Anderson Cooper. The debate covered multiple different topics and all of the candidates had ideas that were not the same. This means that it is very important to look into each candidate and find out which one matches your policies the best! Each of the possible candidates has their own websites you can check out if you want to know more information about them. Clinton and Sanders are currently the top runners with O’Malley coming in close behind. Chafee is a former Republican turned Independent turned Democrat. But do not let this fool you; he voted for Barack Obama both terms and also voted against use of excess force in Iraq. Webb is definitely the most conservative liberal. He is a Vietnam veteran, wants to work on veteran benefits, and wrote an article while teaching called “Women Can’t Fight”. A lot of his policies match up with Republican policies, but he is running as a Democrat.
The first question that was asked was directed towards Clinton. It was asking her why a lot of her personal beliefs have changed and her policies have changed since she started running. She stated that has a large range of views and that the reason they change is because she learns new information and also her personal experiences in life cause her ideas to change. Personally I believe this is a good thing. Having people change their opinions on things is essential to human growth. Therefore, even though her past opinions were not good, it is great that she has changed for the better. Also later in the debate her email scandal was brought up and all the candidates backed her up on it in the fact that it should not be the focus of the debate.
Next, Sanders was asked about socialism. Sanders had a good explanation about why he is more of a socialist than a capitalist. He stated that is you look at countries that are socialist they are doing better than any other type of government in a country, including capitalism. A lot of these socialist ideas really reflect off of Sander’s platform. He also brought up how it is super important that everyone who is able to vote votes! This includes Primaries, where if you are 18 you will be able to vote for who you want to be the candidate for your political affiliation. Sanders also said how he is Black Lives Matter and he brought up Sandra Bland. His other main point was how the majority of the wealth needs to be in the middle class and that Wall Street is a huge problem. He even said how he wants Wall Street to help fund free upper level education since “the new high school diploma is the college degree”.
Although O’Malley is not one of the frontrunners for the Democratic candidate spot, he seemed like he had a lot of good ideas. He did not say that much, but when he did say something it was calm and collected. O’Malley is controversial because he was the mayor of Baltimore. He claimed that he helped improve Baltimore police and citizen relations and has saved many black lives, but that is up to your opinion. He also stated how he wants the USA to be 100% clean energy by 2050.
Overall, Webb made me confused. Although he is running for the Democratic nomination, he said a lot of things that are more Republican. These include stating that he is part of a “white culture”, although he did not go more in depth about what that meant. He was also saying he was not getting as much speaking time as the other candidates and being rude to Cooper about it. He actually brought it up a lot in the debate. He also said he is All Lives Matter.
One main thing they debated was about gun control. Sanders stated how although he “D- NRA”, he believes that mental health is the number one thing that needs to be addressed with gun violence. This would mean more intense background checks for buying firearms, and also focusing on the first signs of mental health and getting people the proper medical care. Webb is completely for the second amendment, which is uncommon for Democrats.
The other main thing was about using ground troops in conflict. Sander’s is against ground troops in Syria and stated that the Iraq War was the biggest mistake the United States has made. He did not deny that he has said in the past that he would use drones though. He also said that he would use military force to help solve humanitarian problems around the world. He is against war, but not against soldiers and veteran benefits. Clinton is pro-Zionist and also pro-use of ground troops. She also brought up how she wants to get Russia involved with what is happening in Syria, etc. Chafee brought up how Clinton was the only candidate up there who voted for the Iraq War ground troops. O’Malley brought up how he is for the use of intelligence on the ground vs. military troops on the ground.
In conclusion each candidate was asked how their term would be different than a third Obama term. Chafee said it would be different because he would end all of the wars and fighting currently going on in the Middle East. O’Malley said he would protect the mainstream economy and help out with the poverty problem. Clinton stated how she would be different because she would be a woman, but also how some of her policies are different. Sanders said he would try for a political revolution and working on our future with climate change. Webb said he would use executive authority a lot more to get things done.
Overall the CNN poll shows that the popular vote is that Sanders won the debate by 78%. Whether you think that or not, please make sure to do research on all the candidates you are interested in!
Zoe Levine is 17 years old from Erie, Pennsylvania. She is currently a student in 11th grade at McDowell High School. Her main passions are intersectional feminism, writing, music, watching TV and movies, reading, and journalism. She is president of her synagogue’s youth group and president of a local volunteer organization. She is involved with her school’s performing arts program, Speech & Debate, Mock Trial, Model UN, Exposure (tolerance activity), and Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. Outside of school she has a job at a local farmer’s market and travels for Reform Jewish conferences. You can follow her multiple social media platforms including YouTube: sunflowerzoe15, Instagram: @xzoelevine, and Twitter: @xzoelevine