Center for American Progress Action
A Debate Of Real Issues
A Debate Of Real Issues
Democratic candidates discussed tough, important questions facing the country last night.
Democratic Candidates Discuss Tough, Important Questions Facing The Country
It’s not just the insults and name-calling of Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates that can generate a big audience. Last night’s Democratic debate showed that a serious discussion of issues facing our country is not only an important change from the Republican side, but it is popular and entertaining too.
According to Nielsen, the first Democratic debate had 15.3 million viewers, making it the most watched Democratic primary debate ever and the sixth-biggest nonsports cable telecast in history. The audience was almost twice as large as the biggest primary debate during the 2008 presidential campaign, when 8.3 million tuned in to watch Hillary Clinton debate Barack Obama. And the numerous media outlets and pundits who before the debate were promising that it would be boring because it would focus on policy and lack the fireworks in the Republican debates were proven wrong.
Instead, Americans saw an engaging, substantive discussion of important policy issues. The candidates on the stage discussed serious issues facing our country, from gun safety to wealth inequality to climate change to family friendly policies like equal pay and paid family leave. There was no demonizing immigrants, insulting women’s health, or spreading false rumors about vaccines. When a question on Hillary Clinton’s email controversy came up, Sen. Bernie Sanders summed it up well: “Enough of the emails. Lets talk about the real issues facing America.”
Take a look at the topics covered in the Democratic debate last night compared with some of those brought up in the first two Republican debates:
Broadly, the debate moderators, led by Anderson Cooper, also did a good job asking the candidates tough questions on policy and electability. Candidates who didn’t clearly answer a question were confronted and held accountable. We hope this is a trend that continues — especially where it has been lacking on the Republican side.
BOTTOM LINE: Looking ahead to the next Republican debate on October 28, we hope some of the seriousness that last night’s candidates had in their discussion of the important issues facing the country takes hold. But with candidates who commonly use scare tactics and distortions to appeal to a right-wing base, we won’t expect much to change. Perhaps, then, Americans will continue to tune into the GOP debates for their reality TV fix and tune into the Democratic ones to actually hear about policy.
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