CNN's five-hour democratic 2020 marathon, with hours-long question-and-answer sessions with five candidates, was a long night – and a revealing one.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris, as well as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg each answered questions from college students in the audience and a changing cast of CNN anchors for one hour. The 300-minute extravaganza covered a lot of ground. It also provided an opportunity, before the debates this summer begin, to make some direct comparisons in politics and style issues.
It's hard to say whether a candidate produced a clear "winner" or whatever that may mean that so many months before a single primary vote is made. But the five city halls together revealed some greater truths about the Democratic Party as a whole ̵
What follows is a kind of guide to the night, focusing on big issues and revealing more reactions than individual performances. Who or what came out and who or what fell behind?
Winner: The Progressive Movement
Sanders points out that the ideas that were labeled too extreme and radical in the 2016 presidential election – such as Free College, Medicare For All, and serious economic reforms – are now mainstream.
That was perfectly clear on Monday night, and then something else. The questions themselves and the responses of the candidates made it clear that the Democrat candidate will pursue a much bolder and more progressive agenda in economic and social terms than four years ago seemed possible.
Candidates favored single-payer health care, the Green New Deal – a bold progressive agenda on climate change – and a free college. Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg all talked about breaking up big corporate monopolies.
"If we put that two-cent wealth tax on the 75,000 largest fortunes in this country – two cents – we can complete universal childcare for every baby from zero to five, a universal Pre-K College college, debt 95 percent of our students are high, and the debt is still nearly a trillion dollars, "Warren said of her plan to tax the rich to pay for a package of progressive social policies.
The proposals are now considered moderate or those that were controversial among the candidates were equally revealing. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who positioned herself as a moderate option, advocated a public health option, a policy that was on the left side of the Democratic Party less than a decade ago.
The candidates debated whether voting rights should be extended to persons currently in prison. Kamala Harris has vowed to take the executive against guns. Harris and Sanders supported legislation designed to investigate the effects of reparations on the descendants of slaves. It was a clearer answer from Sanders, who had dealt with the issue in the past, and said he did not just support the recognition of a check.
It is clear that the leading policies and positions in the Democratic Party will be determined by its progressive wing loser: Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton may have disappeared from the public eye a little bit. Her failed campaign for 2016 has not done: she is not only a touchstone for a new crop of female candidates, she has become a byword for the fate that they hope to avoid.
Warren was directly and twice asked how she would combat this species Clinton faced sexism in 2016. One student question was factual: "Some people said you had a vote in the & # 39; Hillary-ed & # 39; to get. What lessons have you learned from 2016 that will help you find your bearings in these situations when you are being criticized for something that is in part sexistically motivated?
Another student asked Warren how she could handle Trump's bullying: "In Are you afraid he'll caricature you? "
Warren was referred to as" Aloof "because of her political focus, and her misleading claims about the heritage of the Americas led some to question how she, like Clinton, was too scandalous. plagued to win. Trump likes to call her "Pocahontas". Warren wiped out the comparisons on Monday night, turned to politics and said that sexism in politics was not new.
But the term "hillary-ed" – and its connotation of being an ineluctable woman politician, be it for scandals or sexism or lack of contact – is unlikely to be the legacy Clinton hoped for.
One of the strangest features of the event was that so many students asked students at Harvard University questions, perhaps the most visible symbol of the American elite that exists. There was a clear and obvious explanation: The Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) was co-sponsoring the event, so the Harvard students had to ask many questions – but that did not feel any less strange.
The candidates who vied for leadership in America's center-left party and debated a plethora of populist policies ranging from Medicare-for-All to the Green New Deal to slavery reparations were adopted by students A school surveyed by the average student surveyed is about three times the national average.
To give Harvard students privileged access to potential presidents because the wealthy Institute of Policy (which recently received fellowships with Corey Lewandowski and Sean Spicer) was an example of cooperation with CNN, power and social status, political access buys.
Chris Hayes of MSNBC developed in his revealing book Twilight of Elites the idea of an "iron law" of meritocracy: "Possibly inequality." producing a meritocratic system will be big enough to undermine the movement mechanisms … those who are able to climb the ladder will find ways to pull it up or make it selective Lower it to make friends , Allies and relatives can come together. "
Admitting colleges that favor privileged athletes, older students and children of large donors is a clear example of this fundamental problem. Privileges gain access to places like Harvard and thus a gateway to wealth and power. This wealth and power allows your children to visit places like Harvard. Elite higher education institutions have many benefits, such as cutting-edge research, but they also play a role in upholding America's class and racial hierarchies.
An Important Requirement of This Entire City Hall That Can and Wants to Play Harvard The over-large role of the 2020 campaign and American public life remained unquestioned throughout the night. And that's too bad.
Losers: Pretty much the whole world
The candidates stood on Monday evening in front of three questions on foreign policy and world politics. One dealt with Israel, one with US relations with countries executing LGBTQ citizens, and another with US preparations for "cyberwar" (whatever that means).
These were important questions to be sure. But there are only three questions that pertained to the entire rest of the earth during a five-hour event .
Nothing about China's growing influence worldwide. Nothing about the coherence of the NATO alliance in the face of Trump's internal attacks and Putin's external pressure. None of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, the wave of far-right parties that sweep Europe, or one of America's many ongoing military conflicts in places like Afghanistan and Yemen.
These are major issues affecting millions of lives and (in some cases) the foundations of world peace. CNN, however, decided not to raise students who would ask for something; To talk about Yemen, Sanders had to address it unsolicited. It just felt like the rest of the world was not there.
The obvious problem with this approach is that foreign policy is the area in which the president has the maximum power to act unilaterally.
The ambitious domestic initiatives that asked candidates for the better part of the night will have to go through the Congress and could even fail in the (seemingly unlikely) case that the Democrats are a Trifecta of the House Senate White House win. In contrast, there are very few effective controls on the Chief Executive's ability to launch wars or undermine international agreements – and the Post-Trump era will raise massive questions about America's fundamental approach to the world, which it has long asserted , The Democrats, not being forced to take positions on some of these big issues, is an unforeseen mistake because of CNN's guilt.
And in a tangled piece of weirdness: immigration, the politically most conspicuous political issue in America and the West, got only one question all night. What the hell?
Winner: Student Debtor
One of the few questions each candidate had to ask on Monday was what he would do with student debt – not just for future generations of college students, but for those who have already leaving school and still paying their bills.
Most democratic proposals in the past to treat students' debts focused on changes to improve life for people with debt, such as refinancing or adjusting interest rates. The newer and more ambitious proposals for university affordability, such as a free or debt-free public university, would only help future students, not those who have already borrowed. A widespread forgiveness for existing debtors who had not gone public or had paid decades of interest seemed already far-fetched – and then suddenly no more.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a proposal on Monday that will award student loans of up to $ 50,000 to households up to $ 100,000 a year, while households earning up to $ 250,000 will give something away. The plan was one of the hottest topics discussed on Monday: The students asked Sanders, Harris, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg if they supported Warren's plan or a similar plan. If this was not the case, in some cases they asked why those candidates deserved their votes.
Some of the candidates favored an incremental approach. Klobuchar and Harris advocated permission to refinance debtors with lower interest rates, saying they worried about the debt burden of some jobs, but did not demand full forgiveness. Others spoke positively about the general concept of forgiveness without giving details: Sanders advocated doing something to "substantially" reduce student debt, but did not discuss the details of Warren's plan.
It is not surprising that college students who asked the vast majority of questions on Monday evening would turn to this topic. it does not mean that it becomes a defining theme in the race. But Warren's plan clearly has the expectation that candidates will have something to offer to those who repay their loans-and that it's not enough to focus on tuition fees for future students.
Loser: Tom Steyer and the campaign indictment against Donald Trump
Bad news for the billionaire Democrat activist Tom Steyer and his group "Need to Impeach" – a political organization that lobbying the last two years of Congress was dedicated to prosecute Donald Trump.
Monday's town hall reinforced this is the growing story on Capitol Hill: Democrats can not agree on impeachments.
The publication of a revised version of Special Adviser Robert Mueller in the conduct of his campaign rekindled the impeachment debate last week; The report found no conspiracy between the Trump camp and the Russian government in the 2016 elections and decided not to draw any conclusions regarding the obstruction of the judiciary. However, the report set forth a long list of worrying evidences and Congress was sentenced to a final decision.
The leading presidential candidates of the 2020 Democratic Party did not agree on what Congress should do next. Here's what they said:
Bernie Sanders: "First, the congress must look at it closely, conduct a hard investigation and ask – the persons mentioned in this report, preload and go to the truth. Did the trump actually hinder justice? But here is my concern. At the end of the day, it is most important for me to see that Donald Trump is not a re-elected President, and I will do my utmost to ensure that this does not happen. "
Kamala Harris:" I believe Congress should take the steps to impeach, "Harris said, which could be followed by further investigation by Congress.
Elizabeth Warren:" If you actually read the Müller report Everything is there … If there are people. "In the House or Senate, who say that a president can do this, if the president is investigated for his own misdeeds, or if a foreign government attacks our country, then they would have to cast that vote and live off theirs for the rest Life, "Warren said, reiterating her support for impeachment charges.
Amy Klobuchar: "I think we need hearings in the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate and not just General Attorney General [Bill] Barr. … if the house brings us in the impeachment process ahead of us
A candidate who supports the impeachment (and one who "takes steps", whatever that may mean) has been more than a week ago, but it is a long way from the rousing consensus Steyer and other supporters of the impeachment trial want.