The 2020 U.S. electoral season officially kicked off Wednesday with the first of two Democratic Party debates with 10 prospective nominees. The issues discussed were vast and the opinions varying but there were clear winners and losers in the debate. The nominees were also united in their contempt for U.S. President Donald Trump and were also convinced they had a real chance at winning the Senate along with the White House. But, as this is American politics, we have a long way to go. The election will be held a full 15 months from now and the newly elected president will take over the office in January 2020.
The front-runner of the first 10 candidates, Elizabeth Warren, held her own while convincing prospective voters that she should be the nominee. She was well-rehearsed, had very clear policy stances and stuck to her guns. She was, for example, the only candidate that wanted private insurance to disappear from the public debate about health insurance. She cited their $24 billion profit last year as evidence that Medicare for all would be the solution to universal health care. Those profits could easily be used to pay for the actual health care costs of those currently with no insurance and no government assistance.
Most of the other prospective nominees disagreed and said private insurance companies shouldn't be abolished and should provide health care to those that wanted to pay for it. She agreed with her fellow candidates on preserving the Iran nuclear deal and easing immigration restrictions while tightening gun control laws.
The other front runner of the debate, Beto O'Rourke, lost some major momentum. He was awkward, appeared too young (if that's possible) and inexperienced. He spoke Spanish as a reply to two questions and was later panned for his lack of proficiency. He skirted the questions asked and went into canned responses that were obviously memorized before the debate. His performance will undoubtedly be damaging for his prospects going forward.
The outlier candidates, literally on the margins of the stage, did not perform well or break through despite desperate attempts for attention. The notable two exceptions were Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, and the former mayor of San Antonio and Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Julian Castro. Both of their answers seemed genuine and, especially in the case of de Blasio, he returned from being all but written off entirely. He interrupted several times, but this got him more screen time and attention. There were high hopes for Castro that never materialized this year, until now. He appears to be a serious threat to Warren, Sanders, O'Rourke and Biden, the current front-runners. It's still too early to tell if de Blasio gained any momentum.
The other candidates, Tim Ryan, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard and John Delaney, were less than impressive, while Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state, came off as a progressive.
While it is very early to tell and with only the first half of the debate completed, I can't predict who I think will come away with the nomination, but it may very well be Elizabeth Warren's turn. If that's the case, we'll get a candidate that is both a progressive and an academic and one with well-developed policy stances versus Trump next November. The choice will be clear to many voters. However, despite all of this, I doubt the Democrats will be able to unseat Trump and his very loyal base from the White House.