Last night, the Democratic Party held their first presidential debate. Aired on CNN, the event lasted about two hours. The five participants were: former Virginia US Senator Jim Webb, Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders, former First Lady, former New York US Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island US Senator and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
Some of the Democrats gathered at a local brewery in Harrisonburg to watch the debate. Although I didn’t watch it live, I thought it would be useful to see it in its entirety and not merely snippets in order to be informed.
Here are my my thoughts:
I was very unimpressed by the front-runner, Hillary Clinton. It is quite possible that she articulated some point on which she and I agreed, but, if so, I do not remember it. Her declaration that she is running to be the first woman president sounded like needless pandering. Yes, there is nothing wrong with a female president, but voting for a candidate strictly based upon gender is as foolish and myopic as voting for a candidate based upon race. She repeatedly attacked the Republicans without offering specifics sounded like nothing more than an effort to score cheap points with the Democratic audience. In addition, she used far more generalities than anyone else. Even though she has the highest name ID, based upon her performance in the first debate, she would be my least desirable choice.
Likewise, Martin O’Malley failed to wow me at all, more or less sticking to traditional Democratic talking points. However, he did make a good comparison in his closing statement about the difference between the Republican and Democratic debates thus far.
There was a time or two that I agreed Lincoln Chafee, especially when it came to foreign policy, but his defense of several of his early votes was pathetic; his excuse that he had just gotten into office sounded like he had no idea what he was doing and shouldn’t have run in the first place. I didn’t care much for him when he was a liberal Republican and not much has changed.
I was glad to hear Senator Sanders standing up for our civil liberties against the overreaching power of the federal government when it came to matters of the NSA and the Patriot Act, as well as his arguments for a more reasonable foreign policy. However, pushing for a domestic policy that advocates so much “free” stuff and raising the minimum wage indicated to me that he doesn’t have a sound understanding of economics and the free market. College degrees for all, especially those who don’t even want one, makes them almost effectively worthless.
Lastly, although I didn’t agree with quite a lot Jim Webb said, I appreciated his views on foreign policy, gun rights, and trying to stand up for all citizens, regardless of the colour of their skin. He may have not gotten the most time, but from a liberty perspective, he sounded like the best Democratic choice at this point.
Therefore, based solely upon this debate, I would presently rate the candidates as follows: Webb, Sanders, Chafee, O’Malley, and Clinton at the bottom. Assuming I didn’t vote in the Republican primary, which I am planning to do based, of course, upon who is in the race and who is leading, I would consider voting for Webb in the Democratic primary. After all, I voted for Webb in the 2006 Virginia Democratic primary for U.S. Senate (but not in the general election) as I felt he was the best option in that race.
Nevertheless, I encourage you to watch the debate and decide for yourself.