Political oriented people like myself felt like Secretary Hillary Clinton was the biggest winner. She looked strong, decisive and a leader. It is also about time we had a woman President, and we quite frankly in my opinion have far too many men in public office. However, that alone isn’t reason to support her, though I must admit it is difficult to vote for me to support a male candidate against a female in most races (assuming the female is a progressive). Unlike her husband who often takes a patronizing and condescending tone when under pressure, Secretary Clinton used humor to her advantage. I believe she had a very strong debate and hardened the support of most of the party’s political establishment.
However, many of the people I follow on Twitter are soccer fans or bloggers, and a disproportionate number of influential fans of the beautiful game in this country support Senator Bernie Sanders. Every day in the soccer world I am inundated with Sanders talking points. The debate performance of Sanders including embracing the tag of socialism hardened this base of support. To them Clinton appeared shifty and indecisive at times. While I see some of this, by and large I believe she had a strong performance, while Sanders ideologically driven commentary seemed in contrast to Clinton, Utopian but perhaps also impractical.
This having been said, the mass of support for Sanders from those soccer fans who are my ideological soulmates and do not have a political agenda demonstrated to me the commitment and adherence to principle of Sanders support. Many of these folks do not even identify themselves as Democrats, but as Independents who see the Democrats as a corporate driven party that has supported foreign military adventurism. While this may seem an extreme view to politicos, it is not a view I can entirely disagree with.
Every time I have been interacting with the soccer community in this country over the past few months, the Sanders topic comes up. Because of my political work, many of these fans see me as a natural enemy despite being in the same ideological came. For these folks, who I believe are representative of highly-educated, and well-read leftists beyond the soccer world, political characters like myself lack the courage in our convictions to create positive change. I understand that criticism and quite honestly at times cannot disagree with it. This is a round about way of saying, many Sanders supporters don’t care what politicos say or think, and are not concerned about whether or not the Democratic Party loses the election. They aren’t moving off their man – this is a cause for them and tonight he hardened those cause driven voters.
I believe Martin O’Malley on substance had the strongest debate – but then again on substance he probably has the most extensive record of accomplishment of any candidate in this race. O’Malley gave a strong account of himself but since the two front-runners seem to have solidified support with tonight’s performances, I don’t know how many new voters he won over. He did position himself well to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate however.
Lincoln Chafee, by contrast ended up in the US Senate because of who his dad was – legendary Former Navy Secretary and Rhode Island US Senator John Chafee. But Lincoln Chafee was an effective voice in the US Senate – a lone Republican who on many substantive issues was more aggressively progressive than his Democratic counterparts. But tonight he looked old and not spontaneous enough. Besides, he wasn’t a particularly effective US Senator, just one who spoke up on the right issues and generally cast the right votes. I expected Chafee to make an issue out of the Iraq War – he did but did not sell it as effectively as I anticipated. This debate did not help him in my opinion.
Jim Webb is a crusty character and having enjoyed his book Born Fighting, I knew what to expect. But in this era of ideological extremes in the two major parties, a genuine back-country southern populist like Webb does not fit in either political party cleanly. His independence means he cannot be elected President.
The big loser tonight was Vice President Joe Biden. Unless the Hillary Clinton email scandal engulfs her campaign (which is still a possibility), he may have missed his window of opportunity. That is if he ever wanted to run to being with.