Tuesday, January 26, 2016

FIFTH AND LAST 2016 DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES DEBATE: Is the preferred choice of party flag bearer determined?

Keywords or Terms: Iowa State caucuses; New Hampshire Primary; CNN; Des Moines, Iowa; Income Inequality; Bipartisanship; Social Security; Democratic Socialism; Capitalistic oligarchy; Foreign Policy; Qualification for the Office of the Presidency; Free Public College Tuition; Fixing America’s Tax loopholes; and rebuilding Crumbling Infrastructures and public policy

Two weeks and a day to the first New Hampshire State Presidential primary and one week exactly to the Iowa State Caucuses, the Democrats had their concluding debate or town-hall styled chit-chat for party nominee. From the look of things, except another unforeseen event arises before the November 8, 2016 general election, one for now  can repudiate President Harding’s campaign manager’s assessment of the 1920 republican nomination process in the context of the 2016 Democratic Party nomination: “the convention will be deadlocked, after other candidates have gone their limit, some twelve or fifteen men, worn out and bleary-eyed for lack of sleep, will sit down, about two o’clock in the morning around a table in a smoke-filled room in some hotel, and decide the nomination. When that time comes, Harding will be selected”

Why exactly? Well, the fifth and final debate for 2016 Democratic Party was in Des Moines, Iowa not Chicago, Illinois, and the 1920 Republican Campaign Manager Harry Daugherty’s conception of the nomination process, while very likely for the 2016 Republican Party, is untenable for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination. Time and events have changed for Democrats; however, for the Republicans, it appears time has stood still. Democrats have two very viable and probably, unique candidates with enough experience and conviction to hold forth as the President of the United States; and, going by what Democratic Party observers are saying, either of the two candidates will be satisfactory or suffice as the party's flag bearer.

The prime-time Cable News Network (CNN) town-hall styled debate, hosted by Iowa Democratic Party at Drake University, Des Moines, offered the three remaining candidates standing, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a last chance to woo voters to their side; an incredible opportunity for Iowans to see: "[Democratic candidates] detail their plans to move our country forward"; if you ask the Chair of Iowa Democratic Party, Dr. Andy McGuire. The town-hall styled debate is not only a different format or experience for all viewers, it offered the three candidates an uncontested podium for a specified period, without interruptions from other contestants, to convince likely voters that their campaign has the creativity and dynamics to attend to what Americans consider as paramount in moving America ahead.

The give and take format probably enhanced the status of the three candidates as exceptionally articulate, intelligent and passionate; though one maybe be perceived as more credible in terms of honesty of purpose as a politician seeking the highest office in the land. After some personal deprecation regarding his suit, Senator Bernie Sanders unloaded uncanny and withering attacks on Senator Clinton, discountenancing her avowed establishment favored political campaigns and strategy and calling to question the relevance or essence of that campaign to address the political, social, judicial and economic problems the nation is facing. For Vermont Senator Sanders, an aspirant’s political experience is just as important as a sense of good judgement. Identifying a couple of lapses associated with the voting records of Ms. Clinton over national issues of war, foreign policy and commerce, Senator Sanders appears to repudiate Clinton's experience as all in all argument for her candidacy. 

If Senator Sanders is castigated for announcing that there is going to be an additional tax to be spread around on Americans to make his 'Medicare-for-all' health plan work, maybe his new conviction that gun manufacturers and sellers ought to be held accountable and responsible for unusual number and repeat sales of assault weapons to some Americans who hardly qualify mentally, not to say morally, to own guns and ammunition would be preferable as he intoned: mental health care should be available for all Americans as a way to deal with the issue of Universal Second Amendment right and the escalated violence the country has experienced in recent time.

Sander’s approbation throughout the town-hall styled debate appears more of an honor; however, his aggressive dissent from the voting records or position of Senator Clinton on at least four public policy bills, authorization of the war in Iraq, attempt to authorize the keystone pipeline project, NAFTA free trade agreement and Overturning of Glass Steagall, served to concretize his position that the President of the United States must exercise good judgement in decision making and the nation could not depend solely on a politician's experience to support him or her for the highest office in the land. Senator Sanders not only believes, there is need for economic justice; he argues that Wall Street now has the obligation to step up to the plate, after benefiting from tax-payers funded bailouts, and pay back in kind for some social programs that will alleviate poverty and help the nation achieve some of its social welfare goals. To emphasize his argument for economic justice, Senator Sanders added the following words during the debate: "If we are serious about rebuilding the American middle class, if we are serious about providing paid family and medical leave to all of our people, if we are serious about ending the disgrace of having so many of our children live in poverty, the real way to do it is to have millions of Americans finally stand up and say, 'Enough is enough,' for people to get engaged in the political process, to finally demand that Washington represent all of us, not just a handful of very wealthy people."

But if there is an irresistible dictum to Senator Sander’s position during the debate, maybe his immovable description of what Democratic Socialism means, resonates somewhat with outsiders to his campaign. For record purposes, America is a Capitalistic Democracy, a Republic that hardly shares a love for Socialism. Advancing a case for Socialism therefore is abhorrent to the values of  the democracy and committed citizens. This is probably one reason some observers of campaign messaging claim Sanders’ definition or description of Democratic Socialism is hardly convincing; and his overzealous sale of the ideology not plausible enough for a buy in.

Culling from his former elucidation of Democratic Socialism, including the argument that, when you enjoy social programs as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Abolition of Child Labor, a forty-hour work week and opportunity of working for at least a minimum wage, programs now considered fabric of the nation, you are already benefiting or experiencing Democratic Socialism. Since most of these programs were once considered socialistic, it would be rather difficult to deny the benefit and existence of democratic socialism in contemporary America narrative experience. To paraphrase Sanders: “We cannot continue to have a government and politics that is dominated by a billionaire class, where people are unable to afford health care, prescriptions drugs payment, and what is considered a middle class life style, while just a few, one percent of the top one percent hold billions in wealth at the back and expense of millions of Americans. America needs a government that works for everyone, not just the few billionaires, who control our economy as well as politics.”

If Sanders wanted to close his argument on differences of opinions between himself and Secretary Clinton on foreign policy, maybe his admonition that his campaign has focused on political and policy issues, comparing and contrasting his position with Clinton, and abstaining from engaging in negative advertisement in order to win the nomination will carry the day at the primaries and hopefully, in the general election. As rather passionate and intelligent his responses were to questions from audience and follow-up from CNN host Cuomo, it appeared that Senator Sander left out an opening for Senator Clinton to advocate her establishment-styled political campaign with a lot of huge money donations from self-interest groups. Nevertheless, Senator Sanders handled convincingly questions on: 1) Income Inequality and Wall Street excesses, as he countered with a proposal for increases in national minimum wage for purpose of economic justice and pay equity; 2) Bipartisanship and Cooperation in US Congress, as he reminded the audience of his track records on working with Republicans in getting amendments passed; and, 3) Qualification for the Office of the Presidency, as he affirms his respect for Secretary Clinton and continued vigorously to attack her for lapses in judgement and causing some of America’s problems; invariably impinging Clinton's Campaign in the eye of potential voters.

Maybe the best time for Governor O’Malley to make a good argument for his candidacy came when he approached a question over diversity, racial, sexual and gender equality.  Advancing his past ‘glorious’’ work as a governor in a crime-infested State of Maryland, the genial debater outlined a plan to advance a more inclusive and equal society for America. For Governor O’Malley, the biggest issue for young people, would be Climate Change. O’Malley, who rolled up his sleeves to demonstrate probably a sense of urgency, further advanced that voters can actually overturn the past polls on his campaign performance; attempting to put the voters in the driving seat by adding: "[Iowans are not intimidated by polls] …They're not intimidated by pundits, and they have this birthright, they feel, to upset the apple cart. And with only three of us in this Democratic primary, there's only one of us who can still upset the apple cart. Come on, Iowa, right?" In a debate where it appeared there were only two gladiators standing, exploiting a ground breaking change in voter’s affinity for one’s message as a versatile third candidate, maybe rather difficult.
If Governor O’Malley was solid in his representations on the questions addressed to him, no one could actually tell. Even his argument that he has been a great leader during a time of division appeared more as an eleventh attempt to gain traction with voters to remain relevant in the exercise. The  lack luster chance of O’Malley ever being the Democratic Party flag bearer is probably encapsulated in his words toward the end of his Town Hall session: "We cannot be this fed up with our gridlocked, dysfunctional national politics and think that a resort to old ideologies or old names is going to move us forward." Yes, this was a good sound bite or dig to undermine the two front-runners; however, there was no meat in this quote for the voters to sink their teeth into considering the Governor's tepid campaign style.
Prior to the time Secretary Clinton composed herself from answering the nose-thumbing question, where is the enthusiasm among young people for your campaign, and reiterated with, I have been in the front line of change and progress for years, it appeared that Candidate Clinton had buffered her foreign policy credentials by touting, she worked hard to build an international coalition that forced Iran to the negotiation table over her nuclear program. Further, Secretary Clinton added she brokered a ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian. Secretary Clinton believes that military intervention should be a cause of last resort and there is going to be a need to build a coalition of Muslim nation to defeat ISIS; emphatically repudiating the front-runner Republican Candidate who have consistently attacked Muslims. She added: “I’m a proven fighter!”Where Clinton is coming from may be imminently visible to her supporters; however, to those still sitting on the fence, there is this lukewarm confinement that Clinton cannot be trusted. This is the dilemma she is facing and one that probably haunts her campaign efforts and team.

When confronted with lapses in her judgement from the Sander's camp when in position of leadership as a Senator and or Secretary of State, Clinton attempted to play these down by insinuating that she had a longer history of voting record and should not be judged by just one vote, which she reflected upon and agreed to have been a mistake, especially in the instance of the authorization of the Iraq war. To the argument from Senator Sanders that while he had worked to avert problems that have confronted America in the past, it appeared Clinton has been part of the political movement that has compounded the problems, maybe the Secretary could have advanced a better argument than the one she had used to address the judgement call over Iraq war. The challenge of presenting a forward looking argument was missing in her conclusions Monday night; but, she remains the brightest star for establishment democrats, when juxtaposed against the two other candidates.

Probably the most redemptive statement from Secretary Clinton regarding her antagonism from both Republicans and folks who do not like her brand of politics came from this: "I have had many, many millions of dollars spent against me. When I worked on health care back in 1993 and 1994, and I don't know if you were born then. I can't quite tell. But if you'd been around and had been able to pay attention, I was trying to get us to universal health care coverage, working with my husband. Boy, the insurance companies, the drug companies, they spent millions. Not just against the issue, but against me. And I kept going. And when we weren't successful, I turned around and said at least we're going to get health care for kids." Her public service effort not only shines forth, it sorts off, justified the respect from Senator Sander and some Republicans who have in the past indicated that She was the best qualified to become the President of the United States from the Slate of contestant fighting for the White House oval office in 2016.
Finally, until the votes are cast and counted, no amount of polling data could deny in actuality, the ultimate candidate for party nomination. Like any of the three candidates, each would like and prefer to have won the town-hall styled debate in Des Moines, Iowa. One unique characterization from each candidate probably sits well with a number of voters to help the aspirant tower above or spring ahead the remainder candidates during the coming Olympics of pandering. Some voters will see eye to eye with Sanders and acknowledge that Democratic Socialism is better than Capitalistic oligarchy; others will argue that having twenty wealthiest Americans holding as much wealth and resources as half the population is rather untenable for an equitable democracy. There are others who would frown at Bernie Sanders argument that health care is a right of all Americans and having free public college tuition for Americans is reachable. However, can the nation afford these and still be able rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, make earned income more equitable, or fix American tax loopholes? Maybe a candidate that has the back of Wall Street financiers and PAC would be better positioned to win all in the general elections; so, let everyone just vote for this person. However, the question is still this: Are you winning a fair and firm election with enough grassroots support to outlast the race and competition for the White House? By allowing others to dictate for you, who is the ideal and better candidate to protect your interest, are you not selling off your freedom and right as a citizen? All these are questions that the primaries, caucus and debates expected to answer.

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