2020 Presidential Race Kicks Off with Riveting Debates

Julius Perez, Reporter

Over the past four months, presidential hopefuls for the democratic nomination have contested against one another in the first of multiple debates.

The debates, organized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), included 20 of the highest polling Democrats running for office in 2020. Candidates came to debate one another and present themselves and their policies live to garner support from the American people. 

Due to a crowded arena of 20 candidates, the debates were split over two nights, with 10 on the stage at once. The debates provided a little over two hours for the candidates to speak their thoughts and respond to one another.   

Sociology teacher Jess Collier is an avid follower of current events and has seen all the broadcasted debates so far. 

“The candidates kept to the issues and didn’t rely on personal attacks,” Collier said “I can’t say it will stay like that next year.”

In 2016, Trump continually relied on name calling and personal attacks when debating, calling Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” on stage. A candidate debating against Donald Trump will have to stay vigilant and stick to their policies and professionalism and resist the urge to play into Trump’s game and retaliate against his attacks. By doing this, the candidate will provide actual sustenance on stage compared to Trump’s empty attacks. 

Collier believes the debates are an important tool for the candidates in order for them to win the nomination.

“They get more visibility, more popularity, even if they do only get to speak in sound bites,” Collier said, referring to how candidates benefit from being on stage. “They were also facing pressure to move more left on certain issues like Medicare for all. We just have to see where that ends up.”    

Low profile candidates and notable political figures got their 60 seconds of undivided attention from the American people. However, senior Erin Balbuena, who follows politics closely identified this as a problem. 

I don’t like the fact that [the moderators] asked them questions that are really open-ended, and they only had 30 seconds to answer,” Balbuena said. “They were cut off constantly.”

Because of his career portfolio, Balbuena leaned toward Andrew Yang, a company CEO who as president promises an unconditional $1000 a month to every American over the age of 18.

“He’s a CEO. He’s not a political plant. He worked his way into politics,” Balbuena said.

Balbuena did not like how little air time Yang was receiving during the debates, however. 

“I would like to see more of him, not have to use Google to know anything about him.”

As of now, Joe Biden, former vice president to Barack Obama, is in the lead among the other candidates, rarely falling below 30 percent of support from Americans, according to Real Clear Politics, a news source providing non-partisan analysis on current news and U.S policy. The other candidates have noticed this development and have taken action on stage hoping to knock some numbers off of Biden’s support. Candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Kristen Gillibrand have brought up Biden’s problematic political history on stage, putting him on the spot to atone for his track record. 

Biden’s controversial political history includes his opposition to busing, a system which would have integrated segregated schools in the 70’s, and his support of the Hyde amendment, which limits federal funding for abortions and as a result negatively impacts people from lower income areas who rely on Medicaid. Biden has also been criticized for bringing up former president Barack Obama when asked about his political history. 

In the second set of debates, Senator Cory Booker said “First of all, Mr. Vice President, you can’t have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.”

However, Biden was not the only candidate asked to provide an explanation for their previous actions.

Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, brought up Kamala Harris’ controversial history as Attorney General of California. Gabbard cited how Harris jailed over 1,500 people for marijuana possession yet jokes about using it herself, how she had to be forced to release evidence that would have freed a man from death row, and how she extended prison sentences for cheap labor. 

 According to Real Clear Politics, since the second set of debates Kamala’s polling numbers have since dropped by 12 points from a 17 percent to a five percent approval rating.

Only 10 candidates participated in the September debate. Several candidates have also announced their official resignation from the race overall. Collier believes these are good things. 

“It’s better that others drop out because it’s less to digest,” Collier said.

The DNC plans another nine debates over the months leading to the Democratic National Convention in July, a significant conference where major members of the Democratic party come together to determine who will run against Trump.

The next debate is scheduled for October 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. on CNN.