The First Debates- Narrowing Down The Candidates

I can’t believe how much time has slipped through my fingers since I last updated this blog. I’ve been busy with a handful of other projects, including a blog devoted exclusively to bullet journaling, a young adult novel idea that came out of nowhere, and a family history vanity website. But I had to come back to process my thoughts on the first presidential debate.

With over 20 candidates in the race, there’s an awful lot of noise right now. I really enjoy watching the debates to understand how their opinions differ. But in a field this wide, this early in the race, the debate serves as a different sort of sieve for me. I’m looking for the candidate least likely to be turned into a caricature.

It’s pretty safe to say that the Democrats are going to hand me a progressive option, compared to the last election. That’s what I wanted to see in the last election, and that’s why Bernie Sanders had my vote in the primary. Between Sanders and Clinton, it was an easy progressive choice to go with Sanders.

Even though it wasn’t at all how I wanted it to turn out, at the end of the day, I’m probably going to get what I asked for. The pressure on the party is too strong. Bernie might not have accomplished what he wanted to, but he did force the party into new territory.

So we are largely mincing hairs on policy, especially compared to where the Republican party’s plan would take us. The most important part, according to me, is who is going to look the least stupid standing next to Donald Trump. Who can present themselves with the calm dignity we need? Who can appeal to that vast majority of Americans that basically want the same things? Whose voice can rise above the chatter?

And most importantly, to me and probably to every other American voting their conscious, whose eyes can I look into and see a reflection of myself? Who do I think will represent me and my interests as the leader of this country?

So without further ado: here are my thoughts on the first presidential debate. Last night’s speakers were Cory Booker, Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren.

Who I’m Ready To Dismiss After Last Night’s Debate

There are, what, 23, 24 candidates for the Democratic nominee? The party narrowed that down to 20 for us because let’s face it, who cares about anyone who didn’t make it this far already. After last night, there are five I’m ready to cross off the list:

  • Tim Ryan

I walked door to door throughout northern Ohio in the summer before the 2008 presidential election campaigning on behalf of the AFL-CIO (and ipso facto Barack Obama). I talked to lots of different people, but the devastation across the state due to the loss of manufacturing jobs was clear. Even though I’m a born and bred Michigander, I feel like I understand Tim Ryan and Tim Ryan’s constituents. But we can address those issues with plans from the other candidates, and Ryan’s message doesn’t amplify in a way that can capture the entire nation’s trust.

  • Bill de Blasio

I appreciate what it means to be the mayor of New York City and I’m in favor of a lot of things he’s trying in New York. But I do not believe he will be able to stand up next to Trump and look like the obvious choice. I think he’d be far too easy to mock. When I look at him, I see a whole lot more “sameness” trying desperately to be something different.

  • Beto O’Rourke

Hey Beto, would you support a 70% tax rate on the wealthy? Primero, permítanme complacer a los votantes Hispanos. Sloppy, pandering, unspecific, meandering. These are the words I would use to describe O’Rourke’s performance last night.

  • John Delaney

I actually really liked a lot of what John Delaney said, which surprised me because I don’t think I really knew who he was before this. But at the end of the day, I don’t think he has the presence and attitude that’s going to win over the majority of people in this country. Put up against Trump, I see a man who will be easily baited into making a fool of himself.

  • Jay Inslee

I love his urgency about climate change and I agree that it is the number one threat facing our country today (other than Trump’s twitter feed). But what lost me on Jay Inslee was that he kept insisting he was the old candidate that was putting the proper emphasis on climate change. He even said he was surprised by it. But, what like three people had just said climate change was the biggest threat we were facing right now. He’s not going to be able to use climate change to differentiate himself, and while it may be the most important issue, it’s far from the ONLY issue.

Who I Want To Hear More From

  • Cory Booker

Cory Booker’s “concerned and serious” face looks a little bit like a deer in the headlights, but there’s no denying that he brings a lot to the table. I think he has strong progressive policy ideas but also a strong sense of where our divided country might be able to make strides together. In my opinion, he’s got the right kind of political experience to be qualified for president and I think he might be able to hold his own against Trump.

  • Julián Castro

I really didn’t expect to like Castro from my first impressions of his campaign. But I think he did very well last night and I got excited about more than one of his answers. Julián spoke in Spanish as well, but it was in closing argument and felt like the natural moment to do so, unlike O’Rourke’s well-rehearsed comments as soon as the microphone was on him. I see potential in Castro, although it’s still very early and I want to hear more from him.

  • Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar is a smart and proven leader. I am a big fan of her’s, but I’m not sure I want her to be president. I feel about Amy Klobuchar the way I felt about Elizabeth Warren in the last election cycle: I love the work she’s doing now and I’m not sure she should try doing anything else right now. She works hard. Perhaps most importantly, she has a track record of appealing to people who voted for Trump. I’m not willing to dismiss her yet, but I did get the sense that she was trying really hard for some social media worthy sound bites last night, which is one of my turn-offs.

  • Elizabeth Warren

I’m really struggling with Elizabeth Warren. I love her. I think she is the best. I want her to adopt me. I think she wants it the most, and I think she’s willing to work the hardest to get there. I think she has real plans that could really make a change in our country. Buuuuut. Trump has already begun to make her a caricature, and he’s been successful to varying extents. I also think that stopping private health insurance completely will be the hill that Elizabeth Warren dies on.

  • Tulsi Gabbard

My husband has been talking about Gabbard ever since she was on the Joe Rogan show, but I haven’t made it around to listening to it despite his recommendation. I’ve heard her name a thousand times but this was the first time I really paid her any attention, and I loved what I saw. It’s too early to say anything, but I was really impressed by Gabbard. My first impression of her is she’s exactly what we need as the first female president of the United States. She young, she’s attractive, she’s a badass soldier, and she knows about guns. Bingo Bango. I’m going to be watching her closely, and of the group that debated last night she’s the one I’m most interested in.



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