A Democratic Debacle

Sarah Shen

In light of the recent Democratic Debates, I’ve become increasingly observant of and disgusted by the many empty attempts to degrade other candidates at the expense of promoting one’s own agenda.

A prime example, of course, is Biden’s propensity to actively shame other candidates for not supporting Obama’s campaign (Bloomberg) or administration (Buttigieg, among others) rather than use his time to focus on his proposed continuation of the man’s legacy and policy.

Although scathing criticism of other candidates is not at all a new phenomenon in the American political sphere (especially in presidential races), I find that the Democratic debates of the 2020 Presidential Election have undermined the purpose of this pattern.

While winning a party nomination or election, for the most part, necessitates the placement of opponents underneath oneself, it stands to reason that in order to effectively undercut the policies and character of any opponent, one would need to raise compelling and original points to propel this line of thought.

Reality, however, reveals a different picture. While it is reasonable to point out one candidate’s flawed plans on, say, immigration or foreign policy, it is pointless and even counterproductive for all the other candidates (except the one being criticized) to “gang up” on the one accused and denounce the same thing in nearly the same words.

One such instance that captures the latest spirit of the game occurred in Vegas with Bloomberg’s former “stop and frisk policy.” Though Sanders was quick to establish that he believed it was a racist policy and detailed his criticisms of it and Bloomberg, Warren and Biden quickly chimed in with their own, remarkedly similar and unnecessarily lengthy complaints against the policy—these seemed more an assurance to viewers back home that they were not racist or passive participants rather than new material.

And in New Hampshire, as Biden derided Buttigieg as a newcomer with little experience, multiple candidates chimed in and couldn’t help but rehash the exact sentiment of what he had said. In fact, even Steyer, someone with no experience holding elected office, gladly joined in to attack then-frontrunner Buttigieg, saying, “We need people with experience. That’s why I’m worried about Mayor Pete.”

Our most notable politicians are often some of our most highly educated and vocationally experienced individuals, with many Ivy League-educated attorneys and multimillionaires in their midst. In fact, some of the most prominent candidates in the 2020 Election possess degrees from Harvard University (Buttigieg), University of Pennsylvania (Trump—though not a Democratic candidate, he is still a significant point of interest), University of Chicago (Sanders), and Brown University (Yang).

Yet what we see onscreen does not correlate with what we assume to be the “best of the best”—we instead watch in horror as what appears to be a mad scramble for death in an arena of vicious animals unfolds.

We claim that what sets us apart, what distinguishes Homo sapiens from the rest of the crowd of creatures, is our innate sense of humanity. To be human, we say, requires the  power of reasoning and morality.

Why, then, are the people we choose to make major decisions in this country lacking in both? And why are we rewarding them with attention for the very behavior we despise?

Some might say that this is a telling return to our baser instincts and primeval history…but I think we’ve been cavemen all along, from the Coliseum to today.