By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–
Dramatized by recent accusations, dropouts, and political turmoil, Tuesday’s Democratic Debate came on the heels of much anticipation and political drama. The elephant in the room was certainly the recently-surfaced rift between candidates and senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, caused by Warren’s accusation of Sanders telling her in 2018 that “a woman can’t win [the presidency].”
Addressed head-on (albeit, a bit awkwardly), by the moderators on during the debate, both Sanders and Warren stuck to their sides of the story: Sanders claiming he never said (nor would say) such a thing, and Warren claiming that indeed, he said that statement to her. Post-debate, more drama ensued between the two, as hot mics picked up a stern Warren telling Sanders that “I think you just called me a liar on national TV.”
I can see both sides of this issue: why would Warren just now release this information to the public with anonymous sources, especially with her claim that it happened last year? But also, why would she so adamantly stand by such a bold claim, affirm it verbally on national TV, confront him about his denial of the situation, all with so much to lose? We may never know who is telling the truth, but whomever is lying would likely lose public trust if the truth is found out.
Additionally, the debate included a good discussion about foreign policy, likely in response to the recent political involvements initiated by President Trump in Iran. Subtle differences between candidates Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer were highlighted in conversations on trade, healthcare, and other policy topics. However, in my opinion, debates need to focus less on topics like healthcare and more on criminal justice, education, climate, women and minority issues, gun violence, and other more specific issues in which differences between candidates may be less well-known.
Overall, I found this debate to be well-moderated, but slow, repetitive, and overall incredibly boring. Very little discussion took place that had not occurred on a previous debate stage, and back-and-forth on topics already heavily addressed went on far too long. In my opinion, Warren and Klobuchar came out of the debate with a strong and consistent performance, Sanders and Buttigieg having exhibited okay performances, and Steyer and Biden showcasing weak performances that largely did not include well-constructed, cohesive responses to the questions.
Most of all, though, as I looked at the debate stage, I could not help but notice the absence of persons of color amongst a sea of white. In a field filled with diversity at the beginning, the final six who made this debate stage are all white folks. And, trends like #NeverWarren on Twitter following the debate reminded me once again that women simply face a different set of challenges when it comes to being elected. None of these realities mean women and people of color – or women people of color – are not electable. I firmly believe the opposite. But, the evolution of this race offers a sobering reminder that the playing field is still not equal, and the white man still surmounts the rest.