Written by Dillon Rountree, Staff Writer
“A liberal versus liberal debate about who was going to give away the most, free stuff.”
These are the words of Senator Marco Rubio regarding the Democratic debate. Sen. Rubio was unfortunately right on the money. When 15.3 million Americans settled in to watch the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, they received two hours of softball questions, identity politics, and candidates ignoring out of control government spending.
The most important topic of debate was, how to expand government entitlement programs. While former Maryland Governor Mark O’Malley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made admiral attempts in this department, no one could hold a candle to Senator Bernie Sanders, whose “free stuff” campaign is second to none.
Not only did Senator Sanders promise free healthcare for everyone, he also promised free college and paid family leave for all Americans, programs which according to the Wall Street Journal will cost 18 trillion dollars over the next ten years.
The question remains, how will the federal government pay for these new programs? The answer was simple and uniform: tax the rich more. In what has become a terrible cliché, democratic candidates claimed the rich did not pay their fair share and furthered the myth that wealthy Americans pay taxes at a lower rate than their middleclass counterparts. This is despite easily accessible statistical data from the Congressional Budget Office saying the exact opposite.
In regards to foreign policy, the democratic debate had much less substance then its Republican counterpart which covered a range of topics, from China, to Russia, to a multitude of Middle East topics. Only the Syrian civil war and proper U.S. response to it was discussed by Democrats. Secretary Clinton supported the establishment of a no-fly zone and further air strikes, a continuation of President Obama’s current approach. Sen. Sanders claimed a no-fly zone would “create a very dangerous situation”, a view echoed by Gov. O’Malley.
In addition to actual policy discussion, identity politics, politics based around one’s race or sex, rose its ugly head once again. The most glaring example being a question regarding whether they supported “#BlackLivesMatter” or “#AllLivesMatter”. All the candidates with the exception of Senator Jim Webb, who has now dropped out of the race, reaffirmed their support for #BlackLivesMatter. This is despite polls showing the majority of black voters favor #AllLivesMatter.
While on the topic of identity politics, it is interesting to compare the diversity between our current Republican and Democratic candidates, not just in demographic terms, but in diversity of thought. The democratic debate was a panel of old white career politicians, with only Sen. Webb having significant non-political experience from his tenure in the Marine Corps.
The Republican debate in contrast hosted two business people, three senators, two doctors, and five governors. In this group there were five under the age of sixty, two Latinos, an African-American, and a woman. This reality conflicts greatly with the Democratic narrative that claims the Republican Party is that of “Old white men”.
The locations of the two debates say quite a bit about the actual discourses that took place. The Republican Debate took place at the Reagan Library, and it’s diversity of ideas and candidates reflected the “big tent” philosophy Reagan supported. The Democratic debate took place in Las Vegas, and it was two hours of old white politicians discussing how to gamble away the future liberties and incomes of Americans.