The first night of Democratic debates on Tuesday offered voters a mixed bag of policies and showcased a full spectrum of ideological differences.
Unlike the first pair of debates, differences between moderate candidates and the socialists on-stage were very apparent as each candidate vyed to separate themselves from their colleagues.
“Over and over, moderate candidates like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Rep. John Delaney argued Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plans — from ‘Medicare for All’ to the Green New Deal — are unrealistic and would scare off voters,” the Associated Press reports.
Bullock bemoaned the candidates’ “wish-list economics.” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar dismissed free college even for wealthy families as unworkable and touted her ideas “grounded in reality.”
Hickenlooper called for “an evolution, not a revolution,” on health care.
The attacks weren’t shocking in a debate that featured the progressive standouts Warren and Sanders onstage with a handful of lesser-known moderates looking to seize the spotlight. But the two senators’ unified front in fighting them off was notable. Though they are jockeying for some of the same voters, Warren and Sanders didn’t bother going after each other. They largely beat back the moderate critique of their call for sweeping, systemic change with similar arguments.
Sanders argued his health plan is “not radical” and achievable. Warren said the country’s problems can’t be solved with “small ideas and spinelessness.”
Instances like these sometimes grew tense, including one interaction between Sanders and Congressman Tim Ryan.
Ryan specifically said the Democrat Party cannot win in 2020 using the socialist platform and argued “Medicare for all” did not adequately represent the views of moderate Democrats. He said the failure of keeping in private insurance options would hurt union workers and unnecessarily including illegal immigrants comes at the cost of not helping Americans struggling to pay for their own insurance plans.
Check it out, also per the Associated Press:
The notion of taking away private insurance from millions and a Green New Deal that “makes sure that every American’s guaranteed a government job that they want” is “a disaster at the ballot box,” Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper continued: “You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump.”
Delaney added, “Why do we have to be so extreme?”
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg tried to end the unusually public display of anxiety, declaring that “it is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say.”
“If it’s true that if we embrace a far left agenda they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists,” Buttigieg said. “If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. So let’s just stand up for the right policy, go out there, and defend it.”
At times, with Medicare for All supporters Sanders and Warren outnumbered, the centrists piled on, raising doubts about the quality of care it could offer, the costs and the disruption to the health care system. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan called it “bad policy and bad politics.” Bullock said he couldn’t support a plan that “rips away” insurance from Americans who have it.
“It used to be Republicans who wanted to do repeal and replace,” Bullock said, referring to the Republican refrain on getting rid of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Sanders, who has spent much of his career on the issue, grew agitated as he defended the plan. The coverage would actually be better, he argued.
“You don’t know that, Bernie,” Ryan interjected.
“I do know,” Sanders fired back. “I wrote the damn bill!”
With so many candidates vying for the spotlight and the eventual nomination in 2020, voters may see more exchanges like these. This, of course, only helps President Trump as he looks to get re-elected to the presidency.