Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stole the show on Tuesday night at the first Democratic Presidential debate. According to analysis by National Public Radio, Clinton talked for a total of 30 minutes and 25 seconds and Sanders followed with 27 minutes and 41 seconds. Together, they talked for almost half of the 2-hour debate.
But what they did in that time set them apart. Clinton used the debate to strengthen her support among Democratic voters and draw in potential Republican voters. Sanders did nothing more than stick to his platform.
Clinton is a true-blue politician and she isn’t afraid of that identity. She has her heart set on the White House, and unlike Bernie Sanders, she has a realistic plan to get her there.
She started off the debate, reminding the public where she came from: a hardworking, middle class family. She’s a grandmother with the hope that her granddaughter, along with the rest of her generation, will be able to live up to their God-given potential.
Clinton knows that in order to win the presidency, she has to provide channels for on-the-fence Republicans to get on board with her campaign. Some may accuse of her of being too moderate, but it’s nothing more than political rhetoric to get her to the White House. Clinton’s views may clash with Republican ideas, but they are practical in their eyes.
Take Clinton’s views on capitalism. Sanders is critical of capitalism because it perpetuates income equality.
“I believe in a society where all people do well,” Sanders said. Of course, that’s a wonderful dream but it’s not practical. He mentioned that we need to learn from our Democratic Socialist allies: Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Clinton agreed that the government needs to protect small business, but she also reminded the public that, “We are not Denmark. We are the United States of America.”
Talk about a patriotic battle cry.
Guess who loves patriotic battle cries? Yep, you got it. Republicans. Hillary is playing to win, she’s not playing dirty, and she’s just stretching her voting audience as much as she can while staying within the bounds of the Democratic Party.
“I’m a progressive, a progressive who gets things done,” Clinton said. “But know how to find common ground … and I stand my ground.”
She does stand her ground, and her ground is large enough to include a couple outlying Republicans. Sanders stands a firm ground as well, but it’s not big enough to fit all the people he’ll need in order to get elected.
Students like Bernie Sanders and they admire his campaign. His humility is rare among the political breed, as well as his devotion to his values. He was the only candidate that used his opening statements to introduce his platform, rather than talk about where he came from or his family or his accomplishments. His campaign has been a breath of fresh air in a polluted political atmosphere.
But a breath of fresh air will not be enough to 1) win him the Democratic presidential nomination and 2) go on to win the presidency.
His idealistic perspective is worrisome. He has too much hope that the voting public will turn out for a political revolution. Hearts swelled when he said climate change was the biggest threat to our national security. His recognition that gun control is not just a gun issue, but a mental health issue shows a deep insight most politicians lack.
But Sanders up against Clinton? I just don’t know. I almost wish Sanders had a bit of political spark in the traditional sense. Some tenacity to draw in outliers like Clinton does.
The voters will come to him if they are thirsty enough for change; radical and progressive change. But if Clinton can meet the voters halfway, then Sanders will become nothing more than a nice pond reflecting the end of his presidential campaign.