Change is inevitable, we all know that. But change is always easier when it’s incremental. A big change can lead to fear and trepidation, and often leads to outright resistance to the change, while smaller changes are easier to tolerate.
And this is something that is hopefully going to be a very positive development as we move forward through the Democratic primary process. One of the major advantages of primary debates, not counting the occasional eye gouging and groin kneeing, regardless of the size of the field, is to allow the candidates to differentiate the benefits of their plans over those of other candidates. Kind of like getting a second opinion before having surgery.
And in that sense, the first two debates have been very illuminating. When it comes to healthcare, you have Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom are rock firm on Medicare for All with the abolition of private health insurance. Joe Biden wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, add in a medicare public buy in option, and transition from there. The others are the 50 Shades of Gray in between. Hey, ya gotta have a little smut in there somewhere.
It’s the same thing with immigration. Everybody wants a path to citizenship for the dreamers, they all want to stop family confinement, and they all sure as shit want to stop chucking kids in cages. Some want to revoke the law that makes child separation possible, while others want to write superceding laws instead. Some are content with citizenship for dreamers, others want family members in the US, who brought the children originally, included.
It’s the same thing with infrastructure, the economy, and climate change. All, or almost all of the candidates agree on the major problems, and the general outlines of the solution required. Their differences are in the actual mechanics and administration of the solutions, not the solutions themselves.
This is one of the things that has irritated me so much about the debates. Since the candidates agree in principle on the major issues, the debates have devolved into a pissing contest about the minutae of their specific plans. This not only turns an audience off, it’s as confusing as hell. Primary voters want ideas, sweeping plans, a grand vision, not minute details. In short, they want a bumper sticker, and not a doctoral thesis. But when the candidates grand plans are all basically the same, there’s nothing else for them to do than to pick nits like a mother gorilla and her baby.
But when it comes to electoral politics, this minor irritant becomes a blessing in disguise. And the disguise is a rubber nose, plastic glasses, and bushy black caterpillar eyebrows. Just look back at the Democratic primaries of 2016. On the one hand you had the traditional, anointed establishment candidate in Hillary Clinton. And on the other hand, you had the far left, openly socialist, firebrand revolutionary Bernie Sanders. The two points of view were so divergent that no matter which one, it was going to be an almost impossible reach for the majority of supporters of the losing side to have a kumbaya moment and cross over. Especially when the opposition was such a totally unelectable loser as Donald Juan Trump.
It does not appear that this will be a major issue in 2020. As the debates have already proven, the actual differences in the various candidates basic positions on the major issues are small. This means that when one lower tier candidate drops out, it makes it easier for their supporters to find a similar candidate to support, especially since they’re all basically similar. It’s like having your best friend offer to take you to a concert, then they get sick, but they give the tickets to your second best friend, who invites you anyway. This comes into clear focus when you consider that in, I believe it was CNN’s poll yesterday, professed “liberals” five Warren 23% support, Sanders 22%, and even stodgy, old stick in the mud Joe Biden 22%. Even more progressive voters seem to agree that as long as Trump gets the Denver Boot, any step to the left is a good thing, and they can work on more steps later.
So, let the games roll on. Because, especially as far as debates go, as long as the candidates don’t murder each other in their sleep onstage, and give Trump and the GOP giggle fits, let them have their petty squabbles over details. All that does is to highlight how similar they all really are to each other, and make it easier for everybody to rally around the eventual winner.