Candidates discuss impeachment at the December Democratic Debate

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Despite all of the concerns surrounding the Democratic Debate Dec. 19 at Loyola Marymount University, all seven of the qualifying candidates made it to the stage. The concerns being a feud between a company called Sodexo that the university supports and a local labor union. You can read more details in last weeks political column (linked here). After the union and Sodexo reached an agreement just days before the debate, the candidates agreed to take part in the debate. 

Just one day after Trump was officially impeached, this debate allowed candidates to show their own strengths as Trump was finally held accountable to the law. When asked why voters should support impeachment, Bernie Sanders was quick to respond. He called Trump a “pathological liar” and said that he was a “fraud because during his campaign he told working people one thing and did something else.”

Sanders has always been a big advocate for the working class. Like Elizabeth Warren, he is a populist, and he advocates for a tax on “extreme wealth.” 

These populist views led to a clash during the debate with Pete Buttigieg, who recently attended a fundraising event in a billionaire’s wine cave — a phrase that many news networks have coined to sum up the night’s debate. 

Warren accused Buttigieg of relying on big-dollar donors to fund his campaign, but he viewed this accusation as hypocritical. Warren, he retaliated, had a net worth of several million dollars and has accepted money from rich donors at private fund-raisers herself. Warren responded saying that she does not “sell her time.” Still, I think Buttigieg was successful in taking some of the blame off himself. 

Andrew Yang, the ever relatable and entertaining entrepreneur, had a different take on changing the public’s opinion on impeachment. Yang blamed the variety of different news sources for it being “hard” for voters “to agree on basic facts.” He stated that news networks have been misleading by telling us that “Donald Trump is the cause of all our problems.” Instead, he advised citizens to “stop being obsessed over impeachment… and start digging in and solving the problems that Donald Trump [caused] in the first place.”

His response elicited the loudest applause from the audience. However, I do have some problems with his answer. I think that while he is correct that the impeachment hearings have distracted the public from other news, it is not appropriate to take the blame off of Trump and lay it on the news networks. Because, when it comes down to it, Trump is the leader of our country, and he has a lot of say in how the average person has to live their life. And, if those choices are problematic, then Trump should be the one to blame. So, while I do believe that it’s important to turn off the TV and look at ways to fix your local community, this does not mean Trump should not still be held accountable. 

Tulsi Gabbard was the only candidate on stage to not favor the impeachment of President Trump. In fact, she was the only lawmaker to vote “present” on Trump’s impeachment in the U.S. house. She explained her reason for her vote, or lack of a vote, being that although she believed Trump was “guilty of wrongdoing,” she could not vote for impeachment because it would not be a bipartisan agreement. 

Gabbard has opposed impeachment from the beginning, believing that it would be detrimental to an already divided country. However, the responses she has received for her views have not been helpful to her campaign. Yesterday, Trump responded to Gabbard’s “present” vote, saying that he gives her “a lot of respect” because “she knew it was wrong.” While it seems like Gabbard is trying to get more of a bipartisan vote, Trump’s response could turn voters away from her campaign. 

On the Republican side, candidates Joe Walsh and Bill Weld spoke in favor of impeachment. Walsh called the result “inevitable,” while Weld said that there was an “overwhelming case” for Trump’s impeachment. Their response is expected, as the possibility of Trump’s removal from office would greatly grow their number of supporters. 

Thanks for reading and check back next week for another update on the 2020 presidential race. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts, comments or questions down below.