Democratic presidential debate: Sanders holds own against seasoned Clinton, key debate issues remain unexamined

Following months of fierce and somewhat contentious political backlash and disagreements, the Democratic presidential candidates finally went head-to-head during Tuesday night’s debate, the first in a long race for the coveted party nomination. While Clinton and Sanders made headlines the following morning, the other three candidates failed to gain fresh impetus with the little speaking time they had, forewarning rougher campaigns for the grueling months to come.

Former Secretary of State and frontrunner Hillary Clinton had the most speaking time at roughly 30 minutes. A controversial figure, often paired with political malaise and corruption by embittered conservatives, Clinton tackled questions culled from a long list of burdensome national issues with the tenacity that fueled her campaign at the outset. Moderator Anderson Cooper’s questions, for the most part, were fair and resulted in fewer tense debacles than the GOP’s September debate.

Maintaining her progressive liberal stance, the former first lady demonstrated no hesitation when it came to downplaying any talk of her current email scandal and jumped right into the most prevalent topics of political conversation, such as gun control and income disparity. However, as straightforward as she was, there were plenty of times in which one might’ve wondered whether this particular candidate had the right priorities. Clinton often used the significance of electing the first female president as a crutch, but as important as breaking modern gender roles is, history has proven that gender isn’t exactly paramount to upholding the position of commander-in-chief. Her emphasis on gender as a factor shaping her presidency undermined discussion of her unique skills and policies.

In addition, as much as she stressed no-fly zones and the use of military aggression in Syria, her past history of being the head of what many retrospectively referred to as a neglectful U.S. State Department following the attacks at Benghazi brings up certain qualms on whether she could truly deliver as the leader of one of the largest militaries of the modern era. As well-rounded as Clinton may be, this notion will most certainly dampen her campaign and upcoming efforts to become the potential leader of the free world.

On the contrary, avowed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders wasn’t afraid to take on crippling social issues by the horns, repeatedly emphasizing how most of the nation’s wealth goes towards the nation’s top one percent while demonstrating his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. His successful presidential campaign, devoid of any super PAC funding, is truly impressive given his political stance, but when it was finally time for the candidates to debate about gun control, Sanders fell flat on his back, coming off as weak compared to Clinton and the other candidates.

Ultimately, Sanders may be a bit too liberal even for the Democratic Party, claiming that Congress should look to Nordic governments as examples of how the American working people should be treated. Nevertheless, he came off as a skilled debater and fared well in a heated feud with one of the most recognized Democrats of the modern era.

For the most part, the debate was free from the puerile, yet somewhat entertaining exchanges that plagued the last Republican debate, which can easily lead a hapless audience member (or even Donald Trump) to believe that the politicians were “boring,” as was stated on the Republican hopeful’s Twitter. In reality, what most of the candidates posed, namely Sanders and Clinton, were strong, compelling arguments that were consistent with the general interests of the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless, a collective and fervent sense of enthusiasm for both domestic and foreign affairs is still sorely needed, rather than favoring one facet over the other, as many of the candidates in Tuesday night’s debate did. This, along with other important blue-state social issues such as women’s rights and LGBT rights, desperately needs to be addressed to a greater extent in the next debate, which will take place on Nov. 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Israel Aragon is a freshman majoring in neuroscience.

Featured image courtesy Flickr user Marc Nozell