Democratic debate

  • bidenharris 153d7

    “As the only black person on stage,” said Senator Kamala Harris, innocently introducing what would become the biggest take-down of the first 2020 democratic presidential candidate debate, “I would like to speak on the issue of race.”

    Specifically calling out Vice President Joe Biden, Harris zeroed in on the Democratic frontrunner’s troubled relationship with race both in his current campaign and long history working in Congress. In a presidential race that is bound to be centered on which candidate can triumph in debate, standing up to Trump and squashing his petty bullying, last night Harris did the job right.

    Earlier this month, Biden came under firefor naming former senators James O. Eastland and Herman Talmadge, notoriously racist Democrats and rivals of desegregation, in a speech celebrating civility within Congress. Using a misguided, anecdotal attempt to illustrate that camaraderie once reigned supreme over ideological difference, Biden recalled: “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son.’”

    Called upon to apologize for his comments by presidential candidate Cory Booker—because, shocker, maybe getting along with racists isn’t the united ideal we should aim for?—Biden responded by saying: “Apologize for what? There’s not a racist bone in my body.”

    “It is personal,” Harris said at the debate. “It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

    “And it was not only that,” she continued, “but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

    Even though Brown v. Board of Education necessitated the desegregation of schools all the way back in 1954, Biden strongly opposed efforts to desegregate schools through bussing—driving white children to majority black schools and vice versa. According to TIME magazine, Biden supported anti-bussing bills in 1975 and 1977, even introducing legislation himself in 1976 to stop the federal government from using bussing as a means of desegregation.  

    Senator Harris asked Vice President Biden last night, “Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose bussing in America then?”

    “No,” he said, “I did not oppose bussing in America. What I opposed is bussing ordered by the department of education. That’s what I opposed.”

    Joe Biden's history is a mixed bag with a lot of good and a lot of not so good. And while it might not be fair to hold decisions forty years out of date against him, Biden is showing time and time again that old beliefs die hard. After all, it was only after massive backlash earlier this month that he criticized the Hyde amendment after standing behind it for the entirety of his political career. He still refuses to acknowledge his own role in perpetuating segregation. And last night, Biden seemed so unsure of what positions to support or oppose that him glancing around at other candidates in "show of hands" questions, while dithering over whether or not to raise his own, has become a meme.

    Answering for his past with pandering positions on issues and weak denials of historical fact won't work. Last night Senator Harris masterfully took down one man who refuses to apologize for his actions, and I can’t wait to see her beat the next.

    Top photo screenshot via NBC New York 

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  • EWarren bfeea

    Michael Bloomberg’s $400 million self-funded ad campaign may have been able to win him a place on the Democratic Presidential Debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday, February 19, but it might not be able to win him the Democratic nomination.

    On the debate stage, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the other Democratic candidates immediately took the chance to address Bloomberg's many controversies and history of racism and sexism.

    “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians,” Warren said. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

    Running on the platform that he is a different billionaire than current President Donald Trump, Bloomberg's entire strategy seemed thrown off by Warren’s comment — and after, he couldn’t seem to find his balance.

    When Moderator Hallie Jackson said, “Several former employees have claimed that your company was a hostile workplace for women,” Bloomberg replied that he works with a lot of women and that the work environment that he creates is not hostile towards them.

    “I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the #MeToo Movement has exposed,” Bloomberg said. “And anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it's appropriate they’re gone that day. In my company, lots and lots of women have big responsibilities. And...in City Hall the person... that’s the top person, my deputy mayor was a woman.”

    “I hope you heard what his defense was," Warren quipped back. "'I’ve been nice to some women.' That just doesn’t cut it.”

    Then, she brought up that Bloomberg has had women sign non-disclosure agreements for both sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace.

    She asked, “Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those non-disclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?”

    “Senator─ No,” Bloomberg said, later clarifying that the women who signed those non-disclosure agreements signed them and that they will all live with it.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden joined Warren's side of the argument, saying it would be “easy” for Bloomberg to release those who signed the non-disclosure agreements from them.

    “All the mayor has to do is say, you are released from the nondisclosure agreement. Period,” Biden said.

    Though the former New York City Mayor qualified for his first Democratic Debate Wednesday with 19 percent of the nation’s support according to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,744 Americans – just coming in second place behind front-runner Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who secured 31 percent of the nation’s support – Bloomberg’s past followed him there.

    Bloomberg’s history of non-disclosure agreements, racist stop-and-frisk policies, and hidden tax dealings are matters that other candidates and voters are taking into consideration regarding the candidate, who promises to be the “one democrat who can beat Donald Trump.”

    His performance on the debate stage, though, tells a different story.

    Top Photo via MSNBC Live Stream

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  • rachel maddow ce8ef

    An all-women panel has been announced for the next Democratic debate in Georgia on November 20. The debate will include Rachel Maddow, White House correspondents Ashley Parker and Kristen Welker, and NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell as panelists. What an exciting time for us women! We are finally getting a panel. Now that we have one, we can talk about women’s issues! Apparently, we weren’t really allowed to do that too much when there were also men on the panels for the debates: one question, maybe. But a question on abortion and another on women’s access to reproductive health care? Absolutely not. That is too many.

    A curious choice is to have this specific debate in Georgia, especially after the "heartbeat law" that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy was temporarily blocked. After Democratic nominees like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker commented on how there wasn’t enough of a discussion about women’s issues at any of the past debates, Georgia and an all-female panel were both chosen, perhaps coincidentally.

     

     

    It actually is interesting to have this be considered a big deal. It’s thought of as out of the ordinary to have an all-women panel when there have been so many panels of all men. It goes to show how often women aren’t the majority for anything. According to the Pew Research Center, only 23.4% of the House of Representatives is made up of women, and that’s considered a record high. And late-night talk shows? There are barely any female hosts. And of the male late-night talk show hosts, I’m pretty sure most of them are named Jimmy. This doesn’t mean these male hosts are bad; some of them definitely care about women’s issues, but a female host is going to understand women's issues a little more—a lot more. And yes, these men have wives and daughters and mothers and neighbors who are women and many of their talk show guests are women and one time they said hello to a woman at a grocery store and they know many women. They’re still not women.

    Although there are many women in all types of roles in the media and in government that other women can look up to or at least know about, women are not getting the same amount of representation on television and in the media that men have always gotten. We keep questioning why there aren’t many female talk show hosts, and we still hire James Corden. Yes, Carpool Karaoke is very fun, and I loved him in Ocean’s Eight, but there was an opportunity to hire a woman for that hosting role that wasn’t pursued enough by the people in charge. It absolutely could have been hosted by a woman.

    Not having enough female late-night talk show hosts and female debate moderators change the way women watch these shows and debates, and they change the mainstream conversations that we're having. Women are missing out on the right way to have conversations about women’s issues when they’re mostly hearing about them from men—which is why it’s so important to have representation for everybody. If it’s just white men in those roles, only the Jimmys will be represented.

    Header photo courtesy of MSNBC

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