Democratic Debate In Focus

demLast night it was the Democrats turn to put forward their best presidential candidates and debate one another over a host of political issues with just over a year before the next presidential election in November 2016.

Prior to last night, the majority of political headline news stories focused on the rather long list of Republican candidates all vying for the top spot, led by billionaire and reality T.V. star turned presidential candidate Donald Trump who hasn’t been reluctant to attack and criticize the other Republican candidates.

Over the past several months, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders  has risen in the polls and packed arenas by capturing the attention of left-leaning Americans with his progressive views about the environment, taxes, and income equality.

Hilary Clinton remains on top of the latest polls and enjoys a large base of support in the Democratic party and Wall Street despite the fallout from the e-mail controversy that has been used against her by Republicans.

During last night’s debate, the first Democrat presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook, viewers saw more political sparring and debate over topics such as gun violence, Wall Street, Syria, Iraq, and Clinton’s e-mail controversy.

Sanders was asked about a Gallup poll showing half of Americans would not put a socialist in the White House.

Sanders responded by explaining that he is a Democratic Socialist and then defined democratic socialism.

“And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent – almost – own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent” Sanders said.

Later, Sanders said that we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.

Sanders was asked by moderator Anderson Cooper if he considers himself a capitalist.

Sanders responded by asking if he considers himself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little due to Wall Street’s greed and recklessness.

He finally answered “no, I don’t” and said that he believes in a society where all people do well.

Clinton said that when she thinks about capitalism, she thinks about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.

After pointing out that the U.S. is not Denmark, Clinton responded: “And it’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities we’re seeing in our economic system.” Clinton said.

Former Republican turned Democrat Lincoln Chaffe described himself as a “block of granite” when it comes to the issues and insisted that he’s never changed his record on environment, a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, fiscal responsibility, aversion to foreign entanglements, using the tools of government to help the less fortunate.

Chaffe was the only Republican to vote against the war in Iraq.

Hilary Clinton voted in the Senate about going to war in Iraq and admitted that it was a mistake.

Bernie Sanders and Chafee both explained the U.S. should roll back its involvement in the Middle East.  Sanders said that he isn’t a pacifist and supported some war interventions  in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

But he admitted that the quagmire in Iraq was the “worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country.”

Sanders said that he doesn’t support a no-fly zone in Syria and spoke about helping to develop a stronger Arab coalition on the ground.

“We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria” Sanders said.

Martin O’Malley, a former mayor of Baltimore, and current governor of Maryland was asked about Clinton’s record as Secretary of State and authorizing military force in Iraq, supporting more troops in Afghanistan, and wanting to arm Syrian rebels and push for the bombing of Libya.

“No president no commander in chief — should take the military option off the table, even if most of us would agree that it should be the last option” O’Malley said.

Clinton was asked if she should have seen the Benghazi attack coming after Governor Webb’s comment that he would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was inevitable.

“Well, let’s remember what was going on. We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I’m sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people” Clinton said.

“We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, ‘We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi’ “Clinton added.

E-Mail Controversy

When Bernie Sanders was asked about Clinton’s e-mail controversy, he held back from criticizing her and told Clinton that the American people are “sick and tired of your e-mails.”

Clinton said that she’s taken responsibility for it and did say it was a mistake.

-Johnathan Schweitzer

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