On a Saturday night, the three Democratic candidates for president in 2016 met for their last debate of 2015. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley did not say much that deviated from their already well established stances on issues facing the American people. Clinton was polished showing a command of knowledge on many international issues. Sanders was strident in his focus on economic justice, while O’Malley came off overly rehearsed and robotic. Not much new there. However, highly noticeable was how much the debate focused on the general election.
With the first primaries not until February, front-runner Hillary Clinton spoke as if her nomination was a forgone conclusion. Aiming directly at surging Republican candidate Donald Trump, it was almost as if he was the fourth participant in the debate.
Also evident is the undemocratic nature of the Democratic party machine. While it is papered over now, with Sanders offering an apology to Clinton, the DNC’s action to undercut his campaign is instructive to all of those who take issue with the two party system in general. If the DNC is so willing to sabotage someone within their party, then what kind of underhanded tactics would be utilized if a real third/independent party attempted to emerge?
Which leads to another side observation: if Sanders by comparison to the standard bearer of the Democratic Party seems so “out there” as so many are quick to say, then it is indicative partially of the extent to which the Democrats have moved to the right. When the section of the debate on Black Lives Matter and community/police relations came up, both Clinton and O’Malley gave very stock, unobjectionable answers. Sanders was the only one who raised the matter of mass incarceration. Between this and his poll numbers, he’s going to have a difficult time reaching the more conservative and mainstream Democrats.
While this last debate didn’t change the landscape, it does show some of what we can expect to hear in 2016. We all know one thing for certain: Hillary Clinton has the nerd vote sowed up with her Star Wars reference.
-Marc W. Polite