Precious time during the third democratic debate spent unwisely

Precious time during the third democratic debate spent unwisely

On Thursday, September 12, 11 Democratic candidates took the stage in Houston, Texas. Sharing one stage for the first time, top tier candidates were forced to thrash out over controversial policy reform.  

While health care continues to be the most prominent discussion topic, Thursday’s debate shifted focus to gun regulations and criminal justice reform. However, the spotlight continues to be on President Donald Trump during all Democratic debates.  

While discussion around President Trump was reduced compared to the first two Democratic Debates, various candidates continued to spend an immense portion of their time on stage devoted to not only mentioning, but attacking the president. While discussing the current president is often inevitable when expressing reform ideas, devoting unnecessary time criticizing isn’t effective.  

For instance, candidate Kamala Harris began her opening statement with a direct attack against President Trump, stating “so I plan to spend tonight talking with you about my plans to address the problems that keep you up at night, but first I have a few words for Donald Trump,” and ended the debate with, “now, President Trump, you can go back to watching Fox News.”  

A candidate’s opening statement provides an opportunity for them to not only lay out any issues of significance but capture the attention of the audience and voters. Thus, focusing on President Trump during her opening statement did not result in Harris developing a case that made her stand out among the other candidates, who spent their introduction discussing actual policy.   

Harris’ comments regarding Trump did not end with her opening statement, as she continued to make comments regarding the president throughout the debate. Ultimately, Harris mentioned President Trump’s name 11 times Thursday night; more than any other candidate onstage. This left a lasting impression of her intentions as a candidate and suggests that her goals are more aimed at an anti-Trump campaign.  

According to NBC News, the Democratic candidates attacked President Trump a total of 28 times throughout the debate. This focus on the president suggests that the candidates value kicking him out of the White House above reform, ultimately creating the image that the Democratic campaign revolves around who is best equipped to beat President Trump. The candidates are already fighting for time to speak on stage and thus should be using every minute to express their policy plans and appeal to voters.  

Additionally, the Democratic candidates also tend to waste precious time on the stage making vicious comments toward one another. During the second debate, Representative Tulsi Gabbard spent her few opportunities to speak to challenge senator Kamala Harris regarding her career as a prosecutor. Additionally, last Thursday candidate Julian Castro made a swipe at Biden’s age and mental ability, asking whether Biden was “forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” 

While it is essential for candidates to distinguish themselves from others, wasting precious time of a debate to make petty comments isn’t only ineffective, but doesn’t produce an appealing image of the candidates.  

Additionally, these candidates, who frequently criticize Trump’s vocal comments toward other politicians via Twitter, are quick to act the same toward their fellow candidates on television. While the candidates claim that they are a unified front, they are conveying the opposite by tearing into each other’s pasts and ages.

While candidates should act aggressively when expressing their political aspirations, wasting time attacking the president and one another isn’t an effective mechanism that will help secure a Democratic presidential winner in 2020.