In Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, candidates not only avoided boring their audience, but managed to discuss policy and solutions to real-world problems so that voters will be able to make an informed choice between them. That is to say, they had a political debate. It was a far cry from the Republican debates that have been held so far, where focal points included conspiracy theories about vaccines and Donald Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t call all women pigs, just Rosie O’Donnell.
Candidates challenged each other on key issues like gun control and marijuana legalization, and clarified their own positions on reforming Wall Street and college affordability. We’ve collected the stances of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley on some of the most prominent topics of debate:
My name is Catherine Cortez Masto. I’ve spent my life and career fighting to protect the families of Nevada. And today, I’m proud to announce that I am running to become the next U.S. Senator from Nevada.
As Attorney General, I stood up to special interests and fought for consumers in Nevada. I worked with local law enforcement to crack down on meth labs to help combat our state’s growing drug problem, protected domestic abuse victims and children preyed upon by sex traffickers and looked out for seniors who have been cheated by scam artists.
As a native Nevadan, former prosecutor and Attorney General I care about the people of our state and that’s who I’ll be standing up for in the Senate. I was proud to be the first Latina elected to serve as Attorney General. To be the first Latina elected to the United States Senate would be an honor, and an incredible opportunity for me to fight for all Nevadans.
I’m running for the Senate to continue my work standing up for Nevada seniors, consumers, homeowners, women and children. But these days, campaigns aren’t as simple as which side has better ideas. Outside groups and special interests will try to tear me down. Outside money and attacks will flow into the state. It’s not a battle I can fight on my own.
On November 4th Democrats lost big when they ran a candidate but won big when they ran an issue.
In 42 states about 150 initiatives were on the ballot. The vast majority did not address issues dividing the two parties (e.g. raising the mandatory retirement age for judges, salary increases for state legislators, bond issues supporting a range of projects). But scores of initiatives did involve hot button issues. And on these American voters proved astonishingly liberal.
Voters approved every initiative to legalize or significantly reduce the penalties for marijuana possession (Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Washington, D.C.) It is true that a Florida measure to legalize medical marijuana lost but 57 percent voted in favor (60 percent was required).
Voters approved every initiative to raise the minimum wage (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota). Voters in San Francisco and Oakland approved initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. The good citizens of Oakland and Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved more generous paid sick leave.
Both Colorado and North Dakota voters rejected measures that would have given the fertilized egg personhood under their criminal codes.
By a wide margin Missourians rejected a constitutional amendment to require teachers to be evaluated based on test results and fired or demoted virtually at will.
By a 59-41 margin North Dakotans voted to keep their unique statute outlawing absentee owned pharmacies despite Walmart outspending independent pharmacist supporters at least ten to one.
The vote in Colorado offers a good example of the disparity between how Americans vote on candidates and how we vote on issues. A few years ago the Colorado legislature stripped cities and counties of the right to build their own telecommunications networks but it allowed them to reclaim that authority if they put it to a vote of their citizens. On Tuesday 8 cities and counties did just that. Residents in every community voted by a very wide margin to permit government owned networks even while they were voting by an equally wide margin for Republican candidates who vigorously oppose government ownership of anything.
Republicans did gain a number of important victories. Most of these dealt with taxes. For example, Georgia voters by a wide margin supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting the state legislature from raising the maximum state income tax rate. Massachusetts’ voters narrowly voted to overturn a law indexing the state gasoline tax to the consumer price increase.
What did Tuesday tell us? When given the choice between a Republican and a Democrat candidate the majority of voters chose the Republican. When given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat position on an issue they chose the Democrat. I’ll leave it up to others to debate the reasons behind this apparent contradiction. My own opinion is that ballot initiatives more accurately take the ideological pulse of the people because debates over issues must focus on issues, not personality, temperament or looks. Those on both sides of the issue can exaggerate, distort and just plain lie but they must do so in reference to the question on the ballot. No ballot initiative ever lost because one of its main backers attended a strip club 16 years earlier.
I am buoyed by the empirical evidence: Americans even in deeply red regions are liberal on many key issues. And I am saddened that these same voters have voted to enhance the power of a party at odds with the values these voters have expressed. The challenge, and in an age where billions of dollars in negative sound-bites define a candidate it is a daunting one, is how to make the next election on issues, not personalities.
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— Brian Dempsey, Candidate for U.S. Representative (NV-CD2)
As you all know it is about 6 weeks until early voting for the Primary Election begins (May 24th thru June 6th). That means its decision time for the Democrats to decide which of the candidates will give us the best chance to win this seat. We all know this seat is going to be a challenge and a very long shot to win, but it is winnable! I know that if we choose the right person, and we all come together we can do it.
I started my campaign just over a year ago. I started early because I knew it would be hard. People have told me that I can’t win, that I shouldn’t even try. One year later I am still here! I will not quit! I will not let the negative thoughts of others persuade me to give up. I have overcome enough bad times in my life to know that quitting is not an option.
I understand why the leaders of our party give up on this District. I understand why they have so much negativity. I understand I may lose this election. I also understand leadership. Real leaders find a way to make things happen. Real leaders don’t give up. I may lose, but nobody will ever be able to look at me and say that I didn’t try.
I encourage you to research all of the candidates. And you need to decide who will give us the best chance to win. I hope that when you vote, it will be for me. I want the chance to beat Mark Amodei. I do not want a repeat of 2012 and have a person on the ballot that does not belong there. If I lose the primary, whoever wins will have all of my support. I am not running against the others, I am running against our “Do nothing Congressman.” I feel that I give us the best chance to win.
This election is about the future. I want to be a leader of the Party, the State, and the People. I want to be your Representative in D.C. Why? Because you deserve better, Nevada deserves better, and the people of the United States deserve better!