Democratic debate takes on the issues, but no local participation

By Josiah Collins

Ten candidates met for the fifth Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night in Atlanta. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Sen. Kamala Harris of California; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; Businessman Andrew Yang; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and businessman Tom Steyer made the cut for this debate. 

Unlike the previous four debates, however, Wednesday’s event was not viewed by a local debate watch party in Oxford. The Butler County Progressives, which had hosted the previous events at the local LaRosa’s restaurant, skipped this week’s debate. When asked why, Steve Jamison, spokesman for the group, responded:

“A simple answer—LaRosa’s was already booked for the night,” Jamison said. “We considered trying to move the event, but decided to take a break instead. It may have been a mistake. Last night seemed to be the most substantive debate.”  

Some of the hot topics going into the night were the impeachment proceedings, along with continued discussion on ‘Medicare for All,’ immigration, voting rights, and social justice issues. 

While Buttigieg is in fourth place in national polls, recent polls in Iowa show him in front there, well ahead of Biden, Warren and Sanders. The Feb. 3 Iowa Caucuses will be the first time a state’s voters pick their favorite candidate for the nomination.

Many thought the Wednesday debate was going to be centered on Buttigieg due to his recent rise in Iowa, but he managed to avoid a lot of criticism as discussion was heavily focused on the impeachment hearings and Donald Trump. 

“He [Donald Trump] is the most corrupt president in the modern history of the United States of America,” Sanders said.

Although all of the candidates were united in their stance on the president, Gabbard and Harris continued their back and forth from the last debate. Harris pointed out Gabbard’s attempts to arrange a meeting with Trump before his inauguration, and Gabbard responded by claiming that if Harris was president she would continue the status quo of regime-change wars. 

Booker and Biden also took jabs at each other when the topic of marijuana came up. Biden said last week that he was not ready to consider federal legalization because he thought marijuana may be a gateway to harder drugs. Booker favors decriminalization. Biden said he also favors decriminalizing but that it is different than full legalization.

Overall, the debate remained mostly civil and the candidates focused a lot of their energy on the impeachment hearings and their feelings on Trump.

Social media had few reactions from Oxford residents on the debate. A few people put up posts on local Facebook chat pages saying they either favored or disapproved of the president, but there was no real comment on the debate.

The next debate will be Dec. 19 and will be at Loyola Marymount’s Gersten Pavilion in California. 

At this point, only six of the candidates have qualified for the December debate: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris, and Klobuchar can all be on the stage. Yang, Gabbard, and Steyer have almost met the requirements that combine the number of campaign contributors and standings in the polls.