Democratic debate lacks strong winner

Sanders needs to give the American people a legitimate reason not to vote for Clinton.

Anant Naik

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”
 
This was Bernie Sanders’ response to the Hillary Clinton email scandal. 
 
“Thank you. Me too,” Clinton responded.
 
The following several seconds of playful giggling and Sanders’ handshake with Clinton characterized the Democratic debate.
 
The handshake symbolized a night when Sanders made a tacit agreement with Clinton. In fact, it was Clinton who led some of the only attacks on the issues, including socialism in Denmark versus the United States, college education and gun control. In response, I think Sanders avoided clashing with the concepts that Clinton pushed. 
 
To me, this poses a philosophical question about political debates. Throughout the presidential race, Sanders has argued he will not attack Clinton personally. However, during the debate, he didn’t attack her positions either. 
 
I don’t think this strategy works. In order for a candidate to win a debate or the nomination, he or she has to show not only points of disagreement on the issues but actually persuade the people regarding who is correct. 
 
For example, Sanders should have targeted Clinton’s view on education. Clinton argued that making college students work 10 hours a week is a solution to the high education cost. The fact of the matter is, in 2011, approximately 20 percent of college students worked full time, year-round. This figure doesn’t even encompass the students
who work part time and still stay in school. Yet the average debt this year’s graduates will owe is the highest it’s ever been. 
 
On his website, Sanders gives statistics on Germany’s educational system and some American higher education costs. Why he didn’t discuss actual numbers over the flowery rhetoric that everyone delivered remains a mystery to me. 
 
On health care policy, Clinton offered vague solutions to a health care disparity among undocumented immigrants in the U.S. There was no response on that issue. 
 
Moreover, when Clinton was forced to defend her tendency to flip positions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, all we heard from other candidates was silence, even though Sanders has been one of the most vocal critics of the trade deal. 
 
In the end, the debate didn’t clarify the difference in beliefs between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. It also didn’t answer the argument why the American people should vote for Sanders over Clinton. Finally, it didn’t persuade me with any facts or numbers why their positions are valid. 
 
When people argue the Democratic debate was so much better than the Republican debates, I would agree — but I would also maintain it was lackluster and mediocre. If
Sanders wishes to come out on top of this fight for the presidency, he will have to shed more political blood. Even if he stays focused on the issues, there’s much to disagree
on, and he shouldn’t ignore all of that in the next debate.