As Democratic candidates debate, voters tune out.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Prairie Meadows Hotel in Altoona, Iowa. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

Sound & Fury

If a Democrat running for President makes an excellent point two-hours into an 8-hour staged political debate, and no one is around to hear it, do they make a sound?

The current crop of presidential candidates, and their endless stream of planned debates, reads a bit like “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”: Plenty of words, nothing anyone really cares to hear.

It all sounds good from the campaign trail. What have you done for me lately?

This campaign season, with only hundreds of shopping days left before Election Day 2020, U.S. presidential hopefuls certainly seem eager to engage in debates. They seem overly excited to present a series of plans for everything from climate change to reparations.

Debates are all the rage.

Are Americans really paying attention?

Perhaps it is merely that potential Democratic nominees want to demonstrate their willingness to address such issues, even if no one is paying attention to the debates themselves

Some Democrats are watching, no doubt in an effort to make the best possible decision about whom to support in the upcoming race against Donald Trump. But most Democrats understand that they are expected to vote for anyone with a (D) trailing their name as if their lives and sanity depended upon it.

Not everyone is panning this new willingness to engage in political debates about anything and everything, even against the opposing party.

Certainly not Alyssa Milano and Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced their intention to debate each other on gun control. Whether anyone will actually watch this, remains to be seen. Pair the two together on Dancing With the Stars, maybe.

Some candidates are imminently more watchable than others.

Is Andrew Yang the man who can save the Democratic Party from cannibalizing itself in an admirable but deeply misguided effort to oust Donald Trump from office?

His dogged determination to stay in the race is admirable; his plan for a universal public income, perhaps less so. But other candidates are running a race where the only Democratic focal point is Donald Trump, which is a huge mistake.

Democrats should know that there are other Republicans in the Republican Party: It’s Republicans all the way down. They might be a little better spoken than Trump, they may be more polished and skilled in doublespeak, that political hedge sitting that makes both sides of a debate think it's got a man in the Oval Office.

But most still abide by at least some conservative principles, including leaning pro-life.

Ah, the two main forces of society, progressivism and conservatism, locked in perpetual dance. Diametrically opposed parties working together and against each other for the good of society, as they understand it, while navigating a legislative process intentionally made difficult by our founding fathers: That’s politics.

At least, it was until Donald Trump.

The anything-goes attitude that has sprung up on the left in response to Trump is pure political poison. It means Trump controls the Trump movement, and the resistance to the Trump movement. If everything the left does is in response to Trump, not in response to the needs of the voters, Trump holds all the cards. He controls the vertical and the horizontal.

But he isn’t untouchable.

Democrats anxious to tear down weak front runner Joe Biden haven’t been pulling any punches on the legacy of former President Barack Obama, either. But one major criticism of Obama/Biden remains unspoken:

Part of the reason Trump has been able to remove the U.S. from the Paris accord and the Iran deal so easily, is that Obama never subjected either to congressional approval and formal codification into legislation.

By using the “phone and pen” as President Obama blithely put it, and by squandering the first two-years he had in office in which the Democratic Party controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Obama was able to move the needle on key issues…

While he was in office.

Once he was out of office, someone else with a phone and pen would be able to undo everything Obama had done.

And so Donald Trump did.

In this, Obama was short-sighted and sloppy. Trump wouldn’t be having such an easy time of it now if Obama had reached across the aisle a little more often and used some of that famous charm to pass bipartisan legislation that would have outlasted him.

This may also prove Trump’s undoing. He has demonstrated neither affinity nor ability to work with his opposition party.

Undoing the damage Trump has done will be an arduous job for the Democratic nominee, if elected. But it can be done.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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