The Tuesday night Democratic debate was nothing short of a political miracle. Five authentic presidential candidates took to the stage and wowed nearly 15 million viewers with their intelligence and honest solutions for the country. This level of fact-based, respectful political dialogue hasn’t been seen since…well…maybe 2008? I assume Republican pundits missed the debate due to fainting from shock upon glimpsing the unicorn.
Contrary to the Republican presidential candidates, all five democrats spoke with composure and deference while detailing their reconstruction plans for the U.S. without ever slandering a racial group or derailing the conversation with fear mongering. The atmosphere was one of respect as candidates challenged ideas and implementation strategies rather than demeaning their opponents’ lives, bodies, and personal habits.
What was this political unicorn? We saw the brave, bold face of real discourse. Oooh, ahh. It’s so rare. It’s so beautiful. It’s so…democratic! Although the unicorn was present, it still faced challenges.
Anderson Cooper, the CNN moderator, tried several direct and indirect attempts to spark controversy and in-fighting between the democrats. However, Bernie Sanders—receiving the majority of the invitations to Hillary-bash—never stooped to the cheap spectacles that kept the lights on during the Republican debate. Even when Cooper threw a potentially inflammatory comment regarding Sanders’ honeymoon in the Soviet Union the candidate remained collected and turned his answer to a productive pontification on the income inequality rampant in the country.
CNN again tried to provoke the respectful unicorn of discourse by asking a thinly veiled question, “Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?” That’s a doomed-if-you-do, doomed-if you-don’t question within the context that CNN moderator, Don Lemon, allowed. Either yes, all lives matter, and you alienate and anger the community of Black Lives Matter that fights against the incongruently high death rate for African-Americans at the hands of police. Or, no, only black lives matter and you alienate any moderate, left-leaning Republicans (who are probably white) by making them feel left out of the racial discussion. Luckily, Sanders and O’Malley eloquently unveiled the complexities of the question:
Sanders: “The reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail…we need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system.”
O’Malley: “Anderson, the point that the Black Lives Matter movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color. When I ran for Mayor of Baltimore — and we were burying over 350 young men every single year, mostly young, and poor, and black, and I said to our legislature, at the time when I appeared in front of them as a mayor, that if we were burying white, young, poor men in these number we would be marching in the streets and there would be a different reaction. Black lives matter, and we have a lot of work to do to reform our criminal justice system, and to address race relations in our country.”
Respect and explanation wins over controversy again!
The democratic debate was refreshing, enlightening, entertaining, and uplifting. The content from the candidates was mentally sharp, policy-driven, and never shameful. The debate, as shocking as it is to believe, actually started to illuminate the differences in potential presidential administrations the country has to choose from. We, as voters, were finally given an opportunity to hear and start to understand how each candidate will affect our lives if they become President of the United States.
Hopefully this rare occurrence of authentic dialogue won’t disappear in the upcoming Republican debate, but history has proven that beautiful discourse unicorns rarely show up in clown cars filled with money-hungry fools pandering to the craziest, angriest, and stupidest ideas. But, I’ll be watching anyways, just in case the unicorn can be spotted.