There have been very few moments where I’ve been as proud to be a progressive as I am right now. After watching the first Democratic presidential debate, I’ve never seen such a stark contrast between the two major political parties in this country. What many Americans watched on October 13, 2015 is what a presidential debate should be – candidates on a stage, discussing the issues.
When I watched the first two Republican debates, I literally felt like I was watching some reality TV version of a presidential debate. Both debates were filled with petty attacks, childish barbs, inflammatory rhetoric and almost nothing substantial was discussed in detail.
Even heading into the first Democratic debate, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump tried to steal some of the spotlight by live tweeting during the entire show. Think about that for a moment. Even when Republicans weren’t involved, their current leader was trying desperately to turn the whole event into a circus like the debates his party has conducted.
Though what I watched Tuesday night were five adults standing on a stage, interested in discussing what they felt was the best way to improve this country. There wasn’t unrealistic talk about building walls, deporting 12 million immigrants, telling rape victims they shouldn’t have control over their own bodies or absurd rhetoric about the Iran deal.
But perhaps most importantly, these were people who showed each other respect. Of course there were disagreements, but they were usually substantive; the “I like your idea but here’s why mine is better” type. At the end of the day, we didn’t have two candidates going back and forth over each other’s appearance or trying to one-up one another over who could tell the best “I was in New York City when 9/11 happened” story.
Hell, the moment of the night didn’t come when two candidates went at it in a heated battle like Chris Christie and Rand Paul did during the first debate. It came when Bernie Sanders defended his opponent Hillary Clinton from the ridiculous obsession so many Republicans have about her emails.
During that moment I really hated to think that one of them has to lose. It was just a moment where I thought to myself, that’s how we should act in this country. Even when we oppose one another or disagree on the best way to tackle an issue, we still maintain a level of respect for each other as human beings. Imagine how much more we could get done in this country if opposing sides, instead of trying to win an argument, decided it was best to work with one another.
While some will say Clinton won, while others will say it went to Sanders – I think all Democrats won.
To think, as Democrats/progressives/liberals we’re looking at a situation where our two main choices are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – with Joe Biden still a wild card. That’s a damn good place to be – especially when you consider the current GOP frontrunners of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio/Carly Fiorina. And that’s not even covering the other circus performers like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush or Chris Christie.
While Democrats are discussing ways to provide Americans paid sick leave (like the rest of the modernized world), affordable education or universal health care – Republicans are wasting time discussing made-up “wars on Christianity” because gay Americans are now allowed to get married. To say nothing about those conservatives who are literally saying that we’re going to experience “God’s wrath” over gay rights. As if that’s not an insane enough premise to begin with.
My biggest takeaway from last night wasn’t really who “won,” because I think Clinton and Sanders both did really well (let’s face it, the other three don’t stand a chance – even though Martin O’Malley was solid), but how embarrassing the Republican party has become.
As Democrats showed up to a presidential debate like adults to talk about the issues, the Republican presidential frontrunner was busy acting like a child on Twitter. Meanwhile, Republicans in the House still can’t find anyone to replace Speaker John Boehner. The one person most think could get the 218 votes necessary to replace Boehner – Paul Ryan – seemingly wants nothing to do with the job because even he doesn’t want to have to deal with his own party.
It really is a sad state of affairs when a party with an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives can’t even elect a Speaker of the House. But they want to say Democrats are the ones causing dysfunction in Washington? Please.
No matter if you’re a Hillary Clinton supporter, a Bernie Sanders supporter or someone who supports any other Democratic candidate, there’s one thing we should all be proud of today: We’re not Republicans.
I want to say thank you to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim “10 Minutes” Webb and Lincoln Chafee for showing the country (and the world for that matter) what it looks like when adults get together to have a political debate.
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