When I sat down to watch the first Democratic presidential nomination debate, I had no great expectations. This isn’t because I’m ‘right-wing’ – because I’m not ‘right-wing’ at all. It’s because I’m a liberal – a defender of liberalism in its best and most essential form – and those seeking the nomination were and are illiberal.
By the end of the debate, I felt I had learnt very little. I imagine most of America came to the same conclusion.
It was certainly a lively affair, with much whooping and hollering from the audience. Indeed, I don’t recall any point made by any of the candidates which did not receive prolonged applause. It had the feel of a Communist rally, with no happy unit of socialism daring to stop clapping first, for fear of death.
There were five candidates in attendance on the night. Only two have chance of winning. Hillary Clinton is still by far the favourite, despite not winning the debate by any measure. Closing in behind her is Bernie Sanders, the darling of social media, and a self-confessed ‘democratic socialist’, who most certainly did win the debate (at least according to every media and internet outlet covering the event).
Sanders is admittedly a very good speaker, with a much deeper voice than his appearance would suggest. In the debate, we discovered that he has a liking for the socialism prevalent in Scandinavia. Given the well-established norms of American politics, this was a very brave (even if also foolish) thing to endorse. Clinton never went so far, and we can presume that she never will.
The debate was hosted by CNN (a reliably ‘liberal’ – i.e. Leftist – news network), and the candidates did not receive any difficult interrogations from the chair. As Jonah Goldberg (author of the splendid ‘Liberal Fascism’) noted “Anderson Cooper and his colleagues… didn’t only lob softballs at the Democrats in Las Vegas; they made little to no effort to highlight the fact that on many social issues, the Democratic Party is often more out of the mainstream than the Republicans are. Why? Because the Democrats don’t seem out of the mainstream — to the mainstream media.”
Still, as I say, it remains to be seen if any of these debates matter to the Democratic Party. As well as Sanders performed, a Clinton ticket would seem to be written in the stars.
Who can beat her? That’s the only question still worth asking. Ted Cruz might be up to the task. Marco Rubio would stand a chance. Ben Carson could (maybe). But out of all the Republican front-runners, only one can be counted on to win and deliver the goods upon winning, and that is Donald Trump. Call me crazy. Call me rash. But an increasing number of people agree with me.