Monday, January 18, 2016

Democratic Candidates Fourth Debate in Charleston, South Carolina: How far is far enough?

Keywords or Terms: Democratic Party Debate; OBAMACARE; Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Reform Law; Governor O'Malley; Senator Clinton; Senator Sanders; South Carolinian Democratic Party; NBC-NEWS; YouTube; Congressional Black Caucus Institute; Public Policy; Health care; Gun Control and lobby; Systemic Racism; and, Campaign Contributions

The dilemma facing the Democratic Party and its constituent members is the fact that, they have two front-runner candidates, one that appears enthusiastic, authentic and passionate with public policy advancements, the other, very much attuned to upholding present democratic administration’s legacy, with a probable commitment to preserving the signature health care reform law, aptly referred to as OBAMACARE. Senator Clinton was full of accolade for the current democratic administration angling out, the administration’s signed Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Reform Law and positioning of the nation towards universal health care in not so distance future. The third candidate, Governor O’Malley, appeared congenial for nearly the whole part of the debate, occasionally signaling his presence on the stage with more than friendly responses in a somewhat confrontational verbal war between Clinton and Sanders. Probably what the fourth Democratic Candidates' Debate offered the audience more than anything, was the aggressive insurgency of candidate Sanders against candidate Clinton, the presumed front runner for Democratic Party nomination

Unlike the Republican Party debate two days earlier, the Southern Carolinian Democratic Party, NBC-News, YouTube and Congressional Black Caucus Institute sponsored debate, was rather softly entertaining, with the concurrent YouTube simulcast of the live debate online, interactive and tantalizing; and the electronic animation advertisementsencapsulating and thrilling. Further, the YouTube simulated debate environment introduced an active debate on the WEB among voters and interested parties and offered an additional platform for fact-checkers and alternative universe for political junkies, who found watching or listening  to the debate on television and radio as old school.

Evolutionary, the YouTube medium stood out as an additional platform for political debate as Democrats forayed different perspectives on suitable public policy for America; and, offered watchers and online community a chance to reflect in solitary, if you may, what they thought about the preaching from the three Democratic Party candidates at the Charleston, South Carolina venue. In addition, if issues of health care, gun control and political campaign contributions were of paramount concern to you in this election cycle, voters had a feel of where the Democratic candidates stood, as each attempted to convince the voters, he or she, is the real deal towards 2016 White House oval office.

As the three candidates in the debate remained focused on wooing voters to their side, it appeared that Senator Bernie Sanders was more effective than the others in delivering a bolstering position of his insurgency within the party politics. The debate was for most part congenial until the gloves came off between the two front runners for party nomination, Senators Clinton and Sander. There were unique differences or points of argument on nodal topics as:

1)      Health care, including who is better positioned of the two to protect or continue the primordial legacy of the outgoing Democratic Party Administration. Senator Sanders was enamored as advancing a single payer healthcare plan, with Clinton pointing out, we are on the way to a universal health care plan, with the OBAMACARE foundation;

2)     Gun Control and lobby, Senator Clinton attempted painting Senator Sanders as friend of National Rifle Association and the gun lobbying groups, pointing out that, he voted against past legislation attempting to reign the NRA and gun lobbying groups’ in; with Sanders countering back that Senator Clinton was too much an ally of big banks and Wall Street to be claiming overt transparency;

3)     Campaign Contributions: Senator Clinton appeared to have said she is unfazed by the criticism from Senator Sander that she is too cozy with the Wall Street Banks, with her countering back that: “[Sanders] has criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street too, but still went ahead to lead the country out of the greatest recession [of the twentieth century]”; and,

4)     Systemic Racism: Senator Clinton overtly promised to address the issue of racial profiling, indicating the need to reconsider relatively disparate ratio of arrests, and incarceration, of blacks against whites. The default of the 1995 Clinton instituted criminal penalty law on illicit drugs peddling and possession that appears to have contributed or compounded this problem. This from hindsight may make it difficult for Senator Clinton to adequately claim degree of innocence in this context, since her husband instituted the law.

In all, Senator Clinton positioned herself as the candidate better able to carry on President Obama’s legacy on health care. In the alternative, Senator Sander considered the secretary’s position that the nation finally has a path to universal health care as rather disingenuous. Just as Senator Sander continued to advance argument for expanding Medicare with a support of a single-payer plan, Secretary Clinton admonished the Vermont Senator, with: “We have accomplished so much already. I do not see the Republicans repealing [Obama’s Administration signature health care reform law; and, I do not want the nation to start again on a contentious debate”]. For Clinton and Sander, the former believes she is better experienced and prepared to assume the presidency, and knowledgeable enough of the inner working of the present Democratic Administration; while the latter consider himself a leader with a sense of political revolution to shake up things for the betterment of underprivileged Americans.

Here is where the competition and probably corollary recognition of the merits of the two front-runner Democratic candidates' campaigns appear to be obvious: 1) In a dead heat in polls with Senator Clinton in the State of Iowa and probably a double-digit lead in the State of New Hampshire, Senator Sanders attained an unquestionable impetuous at the Debate that might be likable to a superhero taking on an opponent that is probably better funded, but with some rather weak link that exposes that she is not all that invisible to defeat as she may be making the competition contemplate. For the night, Senator Sanders convinced some viewers that he is not only a better alternative to the former Secretary of State, but also, can maintain his independence from the current White House when it comes to ideology and where the country should be moving; 2) As a Democratic Socialist, Senator Sanders was under the glare of light to show more specifics regarding his plans for America as many are getting worried about his ultra-conservative view of the influence of the Wall Street and financial industry on American lives; 3) The ‘Medicare for all’ proposal from Senator Sanders was probably explained further with: ‘payment for this  proposal coming from a combination of sources, changes to income tax code to afford new tax revenue, savings from current health care spending and additional employers’ premiums; 4)If there was any consolation to those apprehensive of the ultra-conservative view of Senator Sanders on his animation with the fact that no one has gone to jail for the Wall Street excesses that nearly brought America's economy to its knees during the last recession, maybe the fact that on about four occasionsSenator Sanders agreed with the opinion of his arch rival in this contest will suffice, the one he aptly branded a stooge of the Wall Street, Senator Clinton.

For Democrats, it is entirely possible to articulate that their debates are not as disagreeable as what is found in Republican Party debates. For now, one can assume that there is eagerness on the part of Democratic candidates to be re-conciliatory on many policy proposals and sharing few exceptions in others,  where there are obvious philosophical discrepancies. The greater the underlying demand to remain conciliatory – a façade that remain uncontested at this time in the race – the lesser a chance for voters to experience fireworks at the Democratic Party debates. However, no one can rule out the type of fireworks between Sanders and Clinton at some moments in the fourth Democratic Party debate during the future debate contests. And if one is going to give a benefit of doubt, there would be other policy fights coming in the campaign advertisements or press releases regarding the position of the candidates as they debate henceforth. The disparate source and inflow of campaign contributions from self-interest groups as highlighted by Senator Sanders as a handicap to Senator Clinton's campaign, especially in campaign contributions from the financial industry appears to be a logical apprehension of the issue of credibility and transparency for the Clinton's team.

The two fore-runner Democratic candidates benefit from disparate sources of campaign contributions, with corporate contributions to the front-runner proving more resilient and individual contribution to the second runner up, less measured. If there was any transition for the perception of how much influence  campaign contributions can met to a campaign's goal and transparency effort, maybe the question of transparency would die down; however, candidate with the smaller campaign war chest and contributions is more likely to raise the issue of self-interest influence in a candidate’s campaign and offering. The disadvantage for now, regarding campaign contributions from either sources have not reached that threshold that allegation has risen to mud sling in the Democratic Party. It is often such transitions that exercises pressures on campaigns as party nomination exercise concludes.

If any candidate finds him or herself in a situation, where they anticipate their level of campaign contributions and war chest are dismal and probably likely to hamper their chances, it may be time to re-assess strategy of attacks or re-alignments of campaign positions. Once a candidate finds that he or she has not achieved the threshold that would improve his or her chances at the polls from campaign contributions, tightening of campaign budgets, reduction in expenditures and staff, or securing improvement in campaign advertisement may become an obvious strategy alternative. For now, it may just be well and dandy to remain re-conciliatory; however, as the nomination exercise concludes, we will perhaps see some divergence in media message; such is the experience of campaigning for the highest office in the land.

One more thing this time around, is report that communication trending on Twitter and Facebook were at variance from what television viewers considered as very urgent or in play with the debate forum. For example, it was reported that trending issues on Twitter were healthcare, foreign affairs, energy and environment, economy and national security, consecutively. However, those of us viewing, at least with me, it was: health care, Gun Control and lobby, Campaign contributions and System racism in the judicial system. It will be interesting to find out what the strategists at the individual campaign camps were visualizing as the trending issues at each moment of the fourth democratic party debate.
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