Today is the day of the first Democratic debate, featuring Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee. The debate begins at 9:00pm Eastern time and will be streamed live for free by CNN and will likely be mirrored by other sites to prevent the system freezing from overload. (Some sites are saying that the debate begins at 8:30pm.)
We can expect to see a careful examination of where the candidates stand on the important issues facing the nation. As Ana Marie Cox says in The Daily Beast:
Here’s what I know won’t happen: No one will give credence to the idea that childhood vaccines are anything other than safe. No one will suggest that marriage is about anything other than love. No one will compare health care to slavery, or the Iran deal to the Holocaust. No one will put the blame for mass shootings on single mothers or abortion or the victims themselves. Talk of foreign policy will not consist of building an enormous fence, then participating in a dick-measuring contest with Vladimir Putin. Climate change will be treated as a real thing, while “Operation Jade Helm” will not. No one will challenge the need for equal pay or criminal justice reform. No one will talk about “fetuses” or “illegals,” or the need to shut the government down.
It is a sad commentary on our times that because none of these five people are prone to saying ridiculous and extreme things in order to pander to their base to fire them up with irrational anger at imaginary enemies and non-existent problems or indulge in taking silly potshots at each other, the debate has not sparked as much anticipation as the wild and weird Republican debates.
The debate will give a chance for the three lesser-known candidates (O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee) to show the public what they stand for. O’Malley in particular is someone whom I think has promise but has been overshadowed by Sanders announcing early and his campaign catching fire. I don’t think he can overcome his late start but he could lay the groundwork to make a strong run in 2020 or 2024 since he is only 52 years old. I do not expect Webb or Chafee to last long.
Sanders received a boost yesterday by picking up his second congressional endorsement. It came from influential Minnesota representative Keith Ellison. Ellison is co-chair with Raul Grijalva (who endorsed Sanders on Friday) of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.