Yesterday, the five Democratic presidential candidates in the USA had their first debate. This was the first time Hillary Clinton came into direct confrontation with her biggest rival in the polls: the far left Bernie Sanders.
I watched large parts of the debate and this is what struck me:
1) Clinton had a smooth performance, she clearly has the best advisors in PR, communications and rhetorics. Sanders did amazingly well on these aspects as well, especially considering his limited means and way more sober campaign team;
2) Nobody seriously addressed how Clinton is 100% tied to corporate interests through so-called super pacs. A debate in which interests are not revealed and challenged in detail is no real debate, but mere rhetorics;
3) There’s a huge gap between the way in which established media and social media evaluate the debate; the first overwhelmingly supporting Clinton and the second overwhelmingly supporting Sanders. Mainstream media clearly have lost touch with huge chunks of the US population without recognizing it;
4) Sanders is a great candidate, very remarkable how a really independent guy can get so far in the US system. I really support his candidacy, and even more so when he would address the following flaws:
- His wish to run a “positive campaign” sometimes conflicts with the necessity of mobilizing public anger against the corrupt American political system. A strong attack at the corporate-technocratic grip on the Democratic Party in general and Clinton in specific should not be avoided;
- His lack of attention for the urgent need to transform the Democratic Party into a truly representative social movement, which indeed requires nothing less than a revolution. Sanders uses the word but does not explain how this is achieved. We need less televised debates and more grassroots organization, and time on television should be spent to explain this to the US people. If he doesn’t have an organized movement behind him soon after he’s been elected he will be crushed by the system;
- His lack of language to address the complex problems that not just capitalism, but modern global neoliberalism brings (this is indeed a very difficult task so let’s be mild on him here);
- His almost uncritical stance towards Israel.