Democratic Debate in Nevada

It’s been truly depressing the last few weeks reviewing my Facebook feed that is filled with news about our slow walk to autocracy under Donald Trump and the chance that he might be elected again.

Hoping for something to lift my spirits, I watched the Democratic debate in Las Vegas last night. Boy, was I disappointed.

The Durham Rotary Club just completed a series of three programs on the topic of Civility. The first featured former State legislator and Supreme Court Justice Willis Whichard. The second featured David Gergen an advisor to four presidents and his son Christopher Gergen, who is many things including a faculty member at Duke.

With civility on my mind, the debate seemed anything but cival. Much of the commentary used sports analogies, like Ali-Frazier 4. Another described Mayor Bloomberg’s performance as a baseball player facing mid-season pitching without the benefit of spring practice. What civility there was was superficial, which is the worst kind of un-civility.

Early voting is underway here in North Carolina and I have no idea who I’m going to vote for. The same was true the last go-round when I voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders and literally made up my mind in the voting booth. Four of the people on the debate stage last night are in their seventies and three of them are older than I am, two of them have more stents than I do and Bernie had a heart attack during this campaign. I’d like to think whoever gets elected could go two terms with all their facilities intact.

Mayor Pete blows me away with his intelligence. He’s quick on his feet and his military service and connection to South Bend and Notre Dame are positives for me. But he is so young and has no political experience beyond the small community of South Bend.

Both Bernie and Elizabeth Warren went after Bloomberg for being a billionaire. Bernie even claimed it was immoral. Bloomberg claimed that he had been lucky and worked hard. The latter claim was blown off as ridiculous That struck me as being unfair. No, he probably hasn’t worked as hard as some of the culinary workers or someone who made a career working on an auto assembly line, that is, hard physical and usually boring work. He did acknowledge the luck factor but he also build a solid company, took reasonable risks and generally made smart choices.

He also has committed to giving away all that money. It struck me that, not only is he not like Trump, he is the antithesis to Trump…a self-made billionaire with altruistic intents. I don’t think he should take all the blame for stop-and-frisk. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Talking the Strangers, describes the tactic as something that adopted by many police departments as a way to tackle crime in high crime areas. Of course, it had a lot of unintended consequences and gave a lot of racist bullies a license to hunt for victims.

As for Bernie, he’s not a communist as Bloomberg seemed to imply in his otherwise astute observation that Trump would be relishing the conversation on stage if he was watching. The biggest problem with Bernie’s proposal is that even with a Democratic House and a Senate with a two thirds majority, his vision could not be funded. It’s unrealistic to think that he could unravel the entire dysfunctional healthcare system and replace it with what he is proposing in a four year term, or even two terms.

My big concern is that Bloomberg just goes away mad if he doesn’t get the nomination and only supports the eventual nominee tepidly.

If you forced me to vote today I would support Biden for the 46th president with Amy on the ticket and for the 47th in 2024 and Pete for the 48th in 2032, if I live that long and can still get to the polls.

The commentators on MSNBC , who are paid to make this as exciting a horse race as they can, were animated and seemed to agree that all the candidates had good nights except Bloomberg. I’m sad to say though that I think the big loser was the Democratic Party and the American people. IMHO, Donald Trump’s odds improved considerably after last night. Maybe selecting candidates in smoke filled rooms is a better way to go after all.

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