The Democratic Presidential Debate: What you need to know

On Thursday, the Charleston Democrats and the College’s Political Science clubs co-hosted a Democratic Debate Watch Party on campus. The Democratic Debate took place at Texas Southern University in Houston.

The top 10 candidates took the stage at 8 p.m. on September 12. In the opening statements, candidates spoke on removing President Donald Trump from office, healthcare and unity. Beto O’Rourke heavily focused on “Trump’s America”, the rise of racism and the need for gun laws and Andrew Yang introduced his freedom dividend of $1,000/month to 10 families. 

In terms of healthcare, all of the candidates mentioned the setbacks of Donald Trump’s administration, and plans to reverse it. Bernie Sanders plans to replace ObamaCare completely, while Joe Biden says it needs to be maintained. Biden struggled in this area of debate as he was questioned on the process of his plan as well as its cost; though he did stress that his plan cuts out-of-pocket expenses. Elizabeth Warren aims to keep ObamaCare but improve it by allowing everyone coverage, taxing the rich and corporations more, while the middle class is taxed less. All stressed protection for pre-existing conditions, lowering out of pocket pay and having the choice of private or public healthcare options. 

Regarding gun reform and police brutality, Beto O’Rourke was the front runner of the debate, as he spoke of the urgency of enacting new gun laws. In the wake of the El Paso shooting in August, O’Rourke has been speaking more and more about his plans for background checks and weapons buy-backs. Famously, when asked if gun buy backs would be mandatory, he stated: “Hell yeah we’re gonna take your guns.” Many others spoke about gun buybacks and whether they would be voluntary or mandatory. Military grade weapons, like the AKs used in recent mass shootings, were the main focus. All candidates also supported universal background checks and mandatory gun licenses. 

Racial issues and jail reform was next. Beto O’rourke, again, took the spotlight stating: “Racism is foundational;” and to fix it he wants to focus on the education system, the mortality rates for black mothers and introduce a reparations bill to restore our country. Many repeated Beto’s sentiments and Cory Booker talked about his plan for an office in the White House made to deal with white supremacy and hate crimes. He also wants to focus on inequality of healthcare and environments in poor, black neighbors being treated differently and taken care of less, much like Flint, Michigan. Kamala Harris was slammed for previous stances on weed legalization and outside investigations to police brutality but did try to set the record straight. 

The issue of immigration and border wall was the same across the stage. All the candidates wanted to save Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and expand legal immigration pathways. O’Rourke mentioned ideas for Mexico’s border mirroring Canada’s border and stopping deportations of non-threatening immigrants. As for DACA, O’Rourke is pushing to legalize dreamers and their families. 

Overall, the candidates eloquently showed their plans for their hopeful presidency and all of the candidates received positive reactions from the crowd and in the post-debate interviews. The 2020 Election is approaching fast, and it will be interesting to see which Democratic candidate comes out on top.

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