Who the hell is John Delaney?
Words by Alexi Barnstone
Though it does not pride me to admit it, I have been watching the Democratic Debates. There is over a year until the election and there are too many candidates to remember. Most importantly, however, was the fact that the debates were structured to enable quips, plugs and sound bites, not incite debate or afford candidates opportunities to argue their case.
The debates allowed for a solitary minute response to any question fielded by the hosts, comically described by Stephen Colbert as the “where is Anderson Cooper crew”. Candidates were given 30 seconds for a rebuttal. This quick back and forth limited all the people on the stage. With no more than a minute on any one subject candidates rushed to try to explain their stance, their conclusions consistently suffering from interruptions from the hosts. The time essentially halting any attempt to explicate policy proposals. Seema Nanda and the Democratic National Committee explained that such structure was necessary given the sheer number of people on the stage. It was important to allow everyone an opportunity to speak. The debates couldn’t run for ten hours. Hence a compromise.
More than time was compromised. The integrity of democratic representation was compromised. The time limits left candidates vying for sound bite moments, often selling themselves to populist rhetoric.
As consequence the debates are being remembered for the wrong reasons. Elizabeth Warren rubbing her hands together in pleasure, smirking, as John Delaney is told he would be taxed extra according to Warren’s wealth tax. Pete Buttigieg promising to ask Trump why he dodged the draft on the debate stage. Bernie Sanders waving his arms around.
The problem is twofold. The first is annoying, but insignificant; we learn nothing. Outside of who would and who wouldn’t abolish the private healthcare insurance industry – a feat no one in office would be able to achieve – viewers come away knowing little about each candidate. Developed policy proposals are given no air, and suffocate underneath the fog of rhetoric and punch lines.
In the grand scheme of things the second problem is far greater. That is, that some of the democrats on stage are providing dream highlight reels for Fox and Friends. Marianne Williamson is a prime example. As just as her underpinning sentiments may be, the Murdoch empire froths on the promise for reparations of 500 Billion USD. On talk of a toxicity below the surface in American culture that is the root of all our problems. The dark psychic energy of the 45th president. Sound bites. Opportunities for the ‘insanity’ and ‘impracticality’ of the democratic party to be exposed once again. Another tool alongside the scare tactic of calling policies socialist.
In short, the DNC has left us worse off than we started. We have learned little about candidates that matter, less about their policies, and a lot about what kind of anti-DNC adverts will be airing on Fox Sundays this weekend.