I finally watched one of the Democratic debates now that the number of candidates is down to a rational number. I know that I am going to be voting for one of these candidates, so I should know something about them. Up till now, I've been relying on reading their websites.
I should explain something of my political journey. Until 2016, I was a Republican. Trump was what finally convinced me that it was time to leave the Republican party. Trump was not the only thing, though.
I grew up as an evangelical, small-government, pro-life Republican. There was no question in my mind that I was going to vote Republican all the way down the ticket. Even getting a Bachelor's degree in Sociology wasn't enough to sway me to look seriously at my political and social views.
What did challenge me? Life. I worked as a family doctor and I saw lots of people who worked just as hard as I did but who barely qualified as middle class, many of whom needed to take advantage of "welfare", programs that I had been taught to disdain as for "lazy people". Yet, I saw people that were working full-time and even overtime who couldn't afford health care and sometimes not even enough to feed their children.
I had been told that it wasn't the government's job to care for people who needed help; it was the church's job and that of private charities. Yet, I looked around and saw that churches weren't able to provide such a level of care. Many were barely hanging on by a thread. How could they take care of a family whose breadwinner had just lost a job or another who just lost their home? Churches could do lots of good things, but certainly not everything.
I also began reading outside the "allowed curriculum" of the evangelical church. I had been told by the church that the United States was a Christian country in which Christianity should be privileged. I read books, though, by Christian historians that told a different story. Church leaders were telling me not to believe the science that was the bedrock of my understanding of the world, evolutionary theory, because their understanding of the first part of Genesis didn't allow it. Then I read that most theologians actually interpret Genesis differently.
Seeing that the church could not replace the state and that the evangelical church was downright wrong about some of the things they had been teaching led me to re-evaluate much of what I believed and thought and politics. I realized that government may not be as efficient as we'd like, but it is able to help more people than the network of charities that currently is set up. I saw that privileging Christianity is a violation of the First Amendment and robs us of the beautiful diversity of the many religions represented in our country.
Seeing Trump get elected in 2016 and then how the Republican party has lined up behind him in the last several years has been the last straw. I want nothing to do with the Republican party. Some may say, "Well, what about abortion?" Yes, what about abortion? The Republican want to outlaw abortion, but the also want to outlaw affordable and accessible contraception. It's important to note that abortion rates clearly decline during Democratic administrations because Democrats place a high priority on women's health care. I'm comfortable with the fact that Democratic policies actually do something to reduce the rate of abortions.
Now, back to the debate. I went into the debate supporting Elizabeth Warren and I came out of it with the same view. Warren acquitted herself well throughout the evening. Yes, she was aggressive at times, but it was at times when it was warranted.
Mike Bloomberg did not have a good showing. He did not have good responses to "stop and frisk", although the apology was helpful. (Note: The Washington Post debunks Biden's claim that it was Obama that really stopped the "stop and frisk" policy.) Bloomberg didn't have good answers about his history of misogyny and non-disclosure agreements. And he really should be ready to hand over his tax records. He's already looking like he's stalling. He should be ready to say what years are ready and when the most recent ones will be ready.
Biden looked pretty good, but most of his statements seemed really rehearsed. I did appreciate that he brought out his foreign policy experience, which no one else has much of. I wish he had talked more about his Senate experience because his Vice Presidential record seems kind of weak. Or maybe I don't know how active a Vice President really is. In any case, Biden didn't hurt himself any last night.
Buttegieg had a pretty good outing for the most part. Some of his attacks on his opponents seemed unwarranted and it looked like he was just trying to be aggressive for it's own sake. But, he stayed on message. I don't think his health care plan will work, but he's sticking with it, and I think he has numbers behind it. I'd like to see him get more national and/or foreign policy experience. But, he does have a solid leadership record.
Amy Klobuchar has really stuck it out. She may make it further than I thought. She's smart and has plenty of Senate experience. Buttegieg tried to show how little she knew about Mexico, but she managed to turn that around and show that she really is familiar with our closest trading partners. She's not my first choice, but I could see her as second on the ticket and she'd do really well.
Oh, Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. He's not even a Democrat. He's a Democratic Socialist, but his policies are mostly Democratic. He couldn't turn the US into a socialist country in four years. But, he's an eternal optimist with Medicare for All and his climate change plans. He certainly has a chance to become the nominee. I'm not sure if he can beat Trump because there are some people who are so turned off by the "socialist" label (even though it's socialism that gave us the 40 hour work week, weekends, etc.). Bernie had a good night at the debate. He's not my first choice, but he did himself good.
I realize that Elizabeth Warren is pretty far left of center, but I've gotten pretty far left of center lately. I think it's immoral for a country as rich as ours to have people going bankrupt over medical bills. Homelessness is out of control, yet we have CEOs getting bonuses that are insane. I think a wealth tax is a reasonable thing. The conservative me would have said that government doesn't have a right to money that you have earned. But, an executive who is getting millions of dollars a year is not truly earning that money. That is beyond excessive, especially when a cashier in the same company brings home $20,000/year. Our society has to determine what it is going to allow. Certainly some people earn more than others because of their education and because they do jobs with more responsibility, but making thousands of dollars per minute is obscene.
Whoever the Democrats nominate through this primary process and at the convention is who I will support in the General Election. Our highest priority has to be to get President Trump out of office. Every day, he does something more outrageous. Read the Washington Post and watch your blood pressure soar.
Watch the debates. Decide who the best candidate is. Support them however you can - give money, canvas, get the vote out. Then Vote