The Absence of Substance in the DNC Debates


Stephen C. Leverton II, Opinion Writer

On Jan. 14, CNN hosted the 7th Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa, with six out of the 13 candidates on stage. CNN, the New York Times, and other media outlets released opinion articles titled: “Winner and Losers” and discussed who won or lost. However, the media did not focus on one key group of individuals; the American people. 

When American tune into these debates, they witness embarrassment. These debates only focus on three things: fights between candidates, sound bites for candidates and disunion between Democrats. This is concerning; these issues make the Democratic Party appear to care more about infighting versus selecting the best candidate.

It’s no secret that the debate moderators are channelling candidates to quarrel because they bring up scandals occuring before the debate. For example, CNN published an article days before the debate outlining the scandal between Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The article states that in a private meeting in December 2018, Sen. Sanders said to Sen. Warren that he didn’t think a woman could win the presidency, to which Warren wholeheartedly disagreed. This article isn’t just hurting the candidates affected, it’s impacting progressive voters who like both candidates.

After the debate, footage was recorded of Warren telling Sanders “I think you called me a liar on national TV,” splitting the progressive vote and making either candidate’s chance of winning the nomination slimmer than before. 

These debates are meant to inform people to help them figure out how they will vote in the primaries over the next months. It’s evident that American’s are tired of hearing candidates arguing back and forth; Real Clear Politics shows that viewership has decreased since the first debate. If Americans are tuning out the debates, there’s a good chance that they may tune out the primaries. 

 If Democrats want to win, they must stop fighting and focus on what makes each candidate different. Some candidates have amazing policies that are not talked about during the debates. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s main campaign slogan is “we are in a battle for the soul of this nation.” Biden’s main concern is not fighting with his competitors, but fighting for the presidency against President Donald Trump. This is what Democrats need to focus on, not each other. This must change.