Editorial: In the first debate, Bernie won, but so did Hillary, CNN
Here’s why Bernie won the debate: he re-introduced the concept of democratic socialism to a large swath of the country. He dared us to think of ourselves as a nation who considers the wellbeing of the majority of its citizens as more important that benefiting the wealthiest few among us. He appealed to our moral compass on the issue of wealth inequality, not our aspirations for reckless greed. He challenged us to embrace climate change as the crisis of our times that we, as individuals and as a nation, must actively address. And while it’s not a popular or muscular position to take in this American era of GI Joe machismo, he advocated peace and diplomacy over war and antagonism in the Middle East.
He won because he alone can rail against big money in today’s campaigns and not be tainted by mega-donations. He won because he was not afraid to come to the defense of his main rival and chastise the broadcast media for prolonging the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email snafu. And he won because of his unabashed passion for his ideals, which is the root of Sanders’ authenticity.
Bernie also won the debate because he was so clearly ahead of the other three Democrats in the race (former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia senator Jim Webb) that we can expect to see at least one or two of their candidacies be withdrawn in the not too distant future.
And Bernie won for this reply when asked if he considers himself a capitalist: “Do I consider myself part of the casino-capitalist process, by which so few have so much and so many have so little? By which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t. I believe in a society where all people do well, not just a handful of billionaires.”
On the economy, climate change, wealth inequality and social justice issues, Bernie also overwhelmingly won via statistics registered by most social media platforms; that is, he’s captured the youth vote and is stirring the flames of idealism.
To that end, Bernie made Vermont proud—as he has since announcing his presidential run in May.
Clinton won, too.
She was polished, sharp on all the issues, composed at all times — in a word, presidential. Democrats may not like her as much as they do Bernie, but she showed she would be a formidable candidate, electable to a wide swath of the American public, and capable of being the commander-in-chief with a steady hand as well as a progressive who works with Congress to, as she said, “get things done.”
The three lesser Democratic candidates were the losers. None emerged from the lower tier to either generate big donations or the public backing needed to continue the fight for long. Democrats could rightly wonder why Webb (who switched from the Republican Party just a few years ago) thinks he represents Democrats, or why Chafee (who seemed ill-prepared) ever entered the race. O’Malley still has a shot, but he did not deliver the standout performance he needed to attract new disciples in numbers that matter.
CNN and anchor Anderson Cooper won because the debate was clearly far more civil and substantive compared to the first two Republican presidential debates. And the Democratic Party won if the nation were to judge (and how can it not?) content of the debates and how each party addressed the major issues facing the country.
Did Bernie knock it out of the park? Did he wow the vast number of Americans who are only just beginning to tune in to who he is and understand the revolution around wealth inequality he hopes to launch?
Probably not, his energy waned in the two-and-a-half hour debate, he was a little grumpier than many Americans might have expected and he’s a ready target for some pretty barbed attacks from his fellow Democrats. But he easily earned a double, and of the five candidates he’ll gain more new Americans rallying to his cause and lots more small individual donations. That’s far better than most would have expected four months ago.
The national polls will continue to favor Clinton in most regions of the nation, but Bernie will stay in a strong position to challenge her with his message that mostly calls on reviving America’s better self — policies that build a strong middle class, take care of those least fortunate and champion world peace through diplomacy. Not bad for Bernie’s first national debate with such high stakes.
Angelo S. Lynn