A bit unwieldy? For sure. A circus atmosphere? Occasionally. Good theater?
The debates staged by Presidential candidates on public TV Wednesday and Thursday nights were a lot of things, and drew a fair amount of criticism and then some. More important, though, it was democracy at its finest, chances for the rest of the world to watch as U.S. citizens begin the process of choosing the Democratic Party candidate for U.S. President.
Two years ago, the Republicans, top heavy with would-be challengers, staged a similar series of debates, which basically served as an elimination tournament, separating the pretenders from the contenders.
We won’t get into who our favorites were in the latest debates or which candidates we think emerged as serious threats to the incumbent, Donald Trump. What’s more important is the diverse opinions voiced during the proceedings, and a group of candidates that included men and women with different ethnic backgrounds, religious and sexual preferences, from diverse professions.
Most seemed to agree on the hot button issues, at least at this juncture: The cost of health insurance and whether to nationalize it; the deteriorating situation in Iran; and, of course, immigration reform.
Those who trashed Trump garnered the easiest applause. Cooler heads on the dais seemed to suggest some candidates understand Trump, an incumbent showing remarkable resiliency and surprising strength, isn’t going away (remember how he was going to be impeached in his first year?). Calling him names is an exercise done by a candidate without a better plan.
Like it or not, right now he’s the champ, and a robust economy may be a knockout punch. You win the presidency in the ring; the trick is to choose the right candidate to put the gloves on.
From here, it looks like a deep and talented field of contenders.