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“Bernie Sanders, Not Joe Biden, Sets the Democratic Party Line”

Biden’s rivals paid homage to Obama’s efforts to overhaul the healthcare system. They asserted Obama’s singular responsibility for Obama’s legacy, for better or worse. They denied Biden credit for, well, anything. Meanwhile, they regarded Sanders with measures of deference that elude Biden. “I want to give credit, first, to Barack Obama for really bringing us this far. We would not be here if he hadn’t the courage, the talent, or the will to see us this far,” California Senator Kamala Harris said. At the end of July, Harris withdrew her support for “Medicare for All,” if only to launch her own proposal which would permit private insurance. “I want to give credit to Bernie. Take credit, Bernie! You brought us this far on ‘Medicare for All,’” Harris continued. In these debates, “Medicare for All” has proved as influential in theory as Obamacare has proved in practice. Sanders has proved more vital than Biden in determining what the candidates even bother to discuss. Biden has proved inessential in most policy discussions, though he remains indispensable, in purely practical terms, as a bulwark against Sanders at the polls.

But Biden struggles to deny Sanders’s influence within Obama’s party, a point reinforced by Castro in the debate. “I also want to recognize the work that Bernie has done on this,” he said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to President Barack Obama. Of course, I also worked for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and I know that the problem with your plan is that it leaves 10 million people uncovered.” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar opened the debate with complaints about “off-track” proposals and partisan extremes; she later formalized her opposition to “Medicare for All.” “I don’t think that’s a bold idea. I think it’s a bad idea,” she said. To bolster her criticisms, Klobuchar needed only turn to the party’s alternative figurehead, Obama, in her push for a public option. “What I favor is something that Barack Obama wanted to do from the very beginning,” Klobuchar stressed. She echoed Biden without ever deigning to defend him.

Biden may be popular among Democratic voters, but he becomes a marginal figure in the company of his Democratic rivals. In a quaint moment for an otherwise slick participant, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg fretted about Castro’s hostility toward Biden. “This is why presidential debates are becoming unwatchable,” Buttigieg interjected. “This reminds everybody of what they cannot stand about Washington: scoring points against each other, poking at each other.” Castro relished the irony in Buttigieg’s seizing a debate stage to rail against the very existence of disagreement: “It’s an election,” Castro responded. Viewers might have struggled to discern which candidate’s example proved more Obama-esque: Buttigieg’s post-partisan posturing or Castro’s irreverent challenge to a front-runner on the defensive. They might struggle to accept Sanders’s vision for U.S. health care. But Biden offered viewers little reason to believe he might dominate the Democratic imagination as Obama once did—and how Sanders now does.


A major climate refugee crisis is currently underway after one of the most catastrophic storms in recorded history ripped through the Bahamas, but the 2020 Democratic presidential debate Thursday night featured just one question and less than five minutes of discussion on the planetary emergency that is intensifying extreme weather, taking lives, and threatening to render large swathes of the planet uninhabitable.

“I don’t know how Tom Perez and DNC leaders can look themselves in the mirror after tonight,” said Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement. “When Tom Perez and Democratic Party leaders rejected a climate debate last month they promised us that they would ensure this issue got the attention it deserved. Tonight their check bounced.”

Angering climate campaigners, many of the 10 candidates on stage—including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose Green New Deal plan has been hailed as a benchmark for climate policy—were not given an opportunity to respond to the question.


and how many of these politicians and elites have vacationed in the Bahamas and now are OK with refusing entry to these desperate people?