Thoughts after the Buttegieg-Gabbard Democratic Town Hall

With an already-overcrowded Democratic primary field–which just grew larger still, with O’Rourke making his candidacy official and Biden expected to any day–I decided I need to adequately follow and sift through the field as we get closer to February 3, 2020.

But first, a bit of background…

I am registered as an Independent in Maryland, a state on which the Democratic party has a virtual stranglehold. I tend to vote Democratic, but I try to research each candidate for myself and vote for the one who best represents the issues I care about.

Despite my desire to have a vote in the 2020 primary, I do not intend to switch my registration (yet). I think the only thing that would push me to do so is if a candidate I vehemently opposed had a strong chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

Since I don’t know enough about any of the candidates yet, I’m going to stick to my principle of not buying into the two-party system.

Now then, I wanted to give my thoughts on the Democratic town hall hosted by CNN on Sunday night with Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard.

CNN’s “News” Media Awareness

First of all, CNN, you suck. I did not watch the town hall live on CNN, because I assumed that both candidates’ talks would be relatively easy to find on YouTube, because I live in the 21st century.

Pete Buttigieg’s portion was available in full on CNN’s YouTube channel. Tulsi Gabbard’s was not, and the version I did find was removed this week.

Dear CNN, if you want me to take you seriously as a News Source and not an entertainment giant posing as objective news journalism, maybe prioritize the actual town hall meetings on your social media pages, rather than trying to force-feed me your roster of talking heads’ opinions on said town halls and election videos FROM 2016!

For fuck’s sake.

Anyway, time to give my thoughts on what I saw from each candidate.

Pete Buttigieg has the “Straight-Talk” Gene

I’ll start with Mayor Pete, the current second-term mayor of South Bend, IN. I like this guy. I think he has a lot of great ideas, and he expresses them clearly and deliberately.

Unlike most campaign talks, in which candidates skirt around uncomfortable or undesirable questions and veer towards their five talking points, Buttigieg directly answered every single question he was given. This alone makes him an intriguing challenger to Trump, who does less “straight talking” and more blabbering about whatever inane vomit enters his brain and dribbles out of his mouth at any given moment.

Secondly, and more importantly, I agreed with almost everything he said, from his determination to end the War on Drugs and treat addiction and the opioid crisis as a social issue rather than a criminal justice issue, to his insistence on enabling our economy to move towards green initiatives, and even to his openness to exploring social welfare programs such as a universal base income.

His answer to that last question was particularly interesting. I am not in full support of UBI–I just haven’t been convinced that it is either necessary or effective. However, Buttigieg admitted outright that he is also not sure that it’s the correct answer–but it is absolutely worth exploring.

And the one issue on which I disagreed with Mayor Pete? The electoral college. He stated that he would seek to eliminate the electoral college and turn presidential elections into full representative elections, as in, the winner of the popular vote wins.

In my head, however, what that sounds like is, the presidential election is now a popularity contest. No. I don’t care that Clinton won the popular vote last time.

Humans are fickle, and popular voting deciding an election is how we get POPULIST candidates. We would see the likes of Trump far more often.

Want to fix the electoral system? Eliminate the electoral college, but leave the electoral districts in place. Then, eliminate the winner-takes-all model per state. Instead of all seven of Maryland’s votes going to the winner, the votes would be split according to who those electoral districts actually voted for. Clinton would have had 4 votes, and Trump 3.

That’s how you give voice to EVERYONE, without turning the election into American Idol.

Tulsi Gabbard is a Strong Candidate

First of all, I did not watch Gabbard’s entire town hall, because, again, CNN sucks.

However, I was immensely impressed with Tulsi Gabbard from the outset of her town hall. First of all, she’s a veteran of the Iraq war, a Major in the Army, and currently serves in the Hawai’i National Guard while also serving in Congress. Why don’t all of our representatives serve in the national guards of the states they supposedly represent?

When Gabbard was not defending herself against a less-than-friendly Dana Bash, who hosted her segment, she spoke passionately about issues in which she clearly has a legitimate stake: the prevalence of sexual assault in the military, her anti-interventionist stance on foreign wars, and her opposition to the current New Cold War that Trump seems to be waging against… everyone (but especially Iran and North Korea).

Gabbard’s answers were more politi-speak than Buttigieg’s, but she did not seem to dodge any question outright. She more often began each answer with a personal anecdote, got interrupted by Bash, and then meandered to her overall point.

It’s not a bad way to answer a question. It’s just not ideal when your “moderator” doesn’t seem to have the patience to actually let you speak for any length of time.

Closing Thoughts

This post is quickly approaching 1,000 words, so I’ll wrap up.

  • Buttgieg is well-spoken, clear-minded about his ideas and platform, and open to legitimate discussion about policy. He’s also a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
  • Gabbard is well-spoken, relates easily to people, and, with her military record, is a strong spokesperson for foreign policy and defense spending.
  • I think both of them will be serious factors in the middle or late stages of the Democratic primaries, and I’d support either one.
  • Fuck CNN.

Steve D

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