Third Democratic debate shows resurgence of moderate values



Andrew Yang’s announcement of an online giveaway of $1000 every month sparked attention and displayed his political acumen as well.

Oliver Fox, Opinions Editor

The third Democratic debate Thursday night was America’s first chance to see the top ten candidates debate on one stage. While the debate featured a good bit of animosity, it was certainly less of a street fight than the last few.

Moderate values made a comeback of cinematic proportions today, led by the clear frontrunner Vice President Joe Biden. Featured tonight was Democrat Wars: The Moderates Strike Back.

Biden had his best performance of the three nights, showing not only that he is more agile than the previous debates showed him to be, but also that he is the sole voice of realism and pragmatism. Biden effectively dealt with progressive positions on both gun control and health care, calling into question the economic and constitutional validity of an executive action assault weapons ban and of Medicare for All.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was my other winner of the last two debates, and while she did fade towards the end of the debate, Warren still articulated Sanders’ plans better than he did, which gives her a massive block of progressive voters to siphon votes from. Warren’s appeal is in her consistency, and she stayed her course Thursday night. 

My big losers of Thursday’s debate were former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and California Senator Kamala Harris. 

Harris once again demonstrated a complete lack of policy chops on stage, frequently floundering on health care as she did during the second debate. Harris’ flip-flopping on her own policies obscured her policies and candidacy and she seemed to have also confused herself. 

Castro, on the other hand, dug his own grave when he launched an assault on Biden’s language differences in the buy-in proposals of his health care plan. His attack claimed that Biden had forgotten what his claims from two minutes ago and questioned if he could remember what he had said. Such an overt insult on Biden’s age likely lost Castro a massive chunk of Democratic voters, many of which are aged 55 and above. 

I believe Castro’s attack on Biden was a deliberate attempt to win favor with Biden’s main rival, Elizabeth Warren. Castro has likely realized by now that his polling numbers are nowhere near competitive to actually win the nomination, and he looked to use one of his last national TV slots to get in the Vice President discussion with Warren. However, such an obviously ageist comment likely did not sit any better with Warren than it did with Biden.

As far as fringe performances go, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar had a solid night riding the wave of moderate resurgence. Klobuchar stuck to her message that a united party is a stronger one, and looked solid across all policies discussed.

Andrew Yang had a number of interesting moments, including his announcement of an online “giveaway” of his so-called Freedom Dividend of $1000 every month for a year to 10 families who apply on his website. While that may seem like an attempt to bribe American voters, Yang is actually showing a great deal of political acumen with his plan. His “giveaway” will up website traffic and social media mentions for the #YangGang, and perhaps keep his campaign afloat through the next debate cycle.

An unexpected winner of the debate was ABC network, whose debate covered the greatest range of topics out of all three debates. From health care and guns to climate change and education, George Stephanopoulos and his crew, including Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, covered the whole ballpark of issues.  

While winners and losers existed, the change in the position of each candidate in the race was minimal. Biden firmly remains the front runner and showed that he still owns the issue of defeating President Trump, the issue that Democratic voters care most about (according to FiveThirtyEight). Warren did not make any serious climb but certainly did not fall behind, and Sanders, who apparently was getting over a cold, appeared like he was frantically yelling at a smiling Biden.