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Democratic Candidates Debate #3

December 19, 2015

I’m heavily biased in favor of Democrats, and no doubt this page reflects that bias. That’s because, in my judgment, in general, today, Republicans tend to display and exacerbate the psychopathologies of our democracy, while Democrats tend to work to heal them.

As I reported on the page about the recent Republican candidates’ debate, I thought the Republican theme was that Americans should Be Very Afraid. The story was of an America severely weakened by a President who does everything wrong, but Republicans will make us safe again, by prosecuting the war against ISIS with massive American military power, plus restrictions on American Muslims. The dominant image was Fortress America.

This Democratic debate can’t be directly compared to that Republican debate, because the latter was limited to matters of foreign policy, specifically terrorism, war, and immigration; but the Democrats spent at least half of their time on domestic policy.

Regarding foreign policy, the Democratic position on the whole, with disagreements about specific aspects, was that ISIS must and will be subdued, with American leadership through a combination of diplomacy and coalition building (including Russia), in a complex situation, but that America should stay out of war as much as possible. The image was of a competent but carefully engaged America that does not panic. Muslim nations, who should be called upon to provide the necessary military forces, are to be respected and supported, in what Sen. Sanders reported King Hussein of Jordan’s having called “a war for the soul of Islam” [but btw, think of that phrase in the context of Sunni-Shia antagonism (to put it mildly)]. And Muslim American citizens should be respected, and enlisted in assisting in the effort to keep their country safe from terrorists. No immigrant bashing, and no walls. Be Not afraid.

But from the opening statements, the Democrats emphasized the justifiable anxiety being felt by American families, in the face of the gross inequality of distribution of wealth. Americans are threatened by greedy billionaires, banksters, and their Republican enablers, whose financial acts are damaging and destroying the lives of millions of their fellow citizens.

But the Dems spent much of their time offering ideas and plans for making Americans safe by raising incomes, providing health care, making higher education affordable, improving policing and the criminal justice system, reducing drug addiction and death, and ending racism.

I thought the dominant image was The Family. The theme was what can be done to assist families in attaining a healthy way of life. The story was that Democrats recognize the need for help, and are prepared to offer that help.

Democrats believe that their best chance for getting votes is to demonstrate their ability to govern in the best economic interest of the most people.

The Democrats have an advantage in their ability to communicate about themselves by way of the debate format, because there are not too many of them. They could be clearly critical of each other’s proposals without insulting or shouting at each other.

[Update: here’s a FactChecker report, showing distortions of fact on the part of Hillary and O’Malley; none is immense; nothing to report about Bernie.  For contrast (or grimly comic relief), here’s their article about the most recent meeting of the (Republican) Liars’ Club.]

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  1. Republican Terrorists Debate | tomkoontz

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