The Democratic Debate: Prepare for an Orgy of Unicorn Farts and Pixie Dust

Tonight, the Democrats will have their first Presidential primary debate, although “debate” is something of a misnomer. “Debate” implies that there will be a substantive disagreement in which candidates have different ideas about the direction of the country. However, if you listen to the Democrats talk and check the “issues” section of their campaign websites, you will find that the only real disagreement they have is about exactly how much “free” stuff that the government should give away.

For instance, all the Democrats in the field* believe in “free” college. There is some disagreement amongst the Democrats as to whether only the first two years of college should be free, or whether all four years should be free, or whether college should be free as long as anyone wants to stay in college. They are, however, all in basic agreement that college learning should be considerably more free than it currently is.

They are likewise in agreement that the government should be in the business of forcing your employer to pay you more, which of course is a policy (according to them) that results in you getting more money for “free.” They are likewise uninamous that the illegal immigrants who are currently in this country should be given legal status for “free.” Birth control, including abortion? Likewise, the Democrats are here to argue mostly about who believes it should be “free” with the greatest amount of conviction.

To no one’s surprise, Brian Beutler has already won the award for the most hack-tastic take on the upcoming Democrat debate. Beutler argues, with no apparent sense of irony, that the party whose central organizing tenet is that “there’s always such a thing as a free lunch” is the party of “adults,” as compared to the Republicans. The sole piece of data he mounts in support of this manifestly insane theory is that the Democrat debate is likely to be boring:

Relative to the two Republican presidential primary debates already behind us, Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate is expected to draw a modest TV audience. Back on January 31, 2008, when candidate Barack Obama was still a political phenom, CNN logged the most-watched presidential primary debate in its history to date, drawing an average of 8.3 million viewers. With the second Republican primary debate last month, the network nearly tripled that.

We surely have Donald Trump to thank for the disparity. Had he sat out the race this year, he would have deprived Fox News and CNN of his singular combination of fame, media savvy, insensitivity, and cringe-inducing combativeness. But even absent Trump, Republican primary debates would probably draw bigger audiences than their Democratic counterparts. It isn’t wrong or biased to say that Democrats make comparatively boring television. But that isn’t a strike against Democrats, either. It’s a reflection of the fact that the Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, is dominated by reactionary voters, which makes its candidates prone to saying or doing outrageous things out of a sense of necessity.

Points for honesty about the television appeal of a contest in which a 74 year old white guy with almost as many liver spots as he has years spent in Congress constitutes the “fresh new face.” To the extent, however, that Republicans say more extreme things in debates in order to satisfy their base, that is only because the media chooses not to force Democrats to answer questions about, say, taxpayer funding of abortion (which is opposed by 3/4 of all Americans) or 9/11 trutherism (which is rejected by almost everyone, except for half of Democratic party voters). Democrat base voters believe just as many extreme things than their Republican counterparts, if not more; the Democrat candidates just have the media on their side.

But more to the point, the assertion that this group of fairy tale artists constitutes the “adults” in the campaign is really a bit of a stretch. Not a single one of them will even suggest something as politically dangerous or as adult as the fact that entitlements in this country are in desperate need of reform in order to save this country’s fiscal health, or that spending must be cut drastically.

Instead, we will be treated to a nonstop procession of promises for goodies with nary a hint of how they might be paid for. This is not how “adults” understand the world to work. “Adults” understand that nothing in life is free, and even those things that are paid for by other people come at a cost, extracted from sustainable economic growth that provides a living wage in exchange for marketable skills (instead of providing goodies for the life skills equivalent of donning a costume, thrusting a bag in a stranger’s face, and yelling “Trick or Treat!”).

Unicorn farts and pixie dust do not serious policy make; and yet, they are all the modern Democrats have to offer.

Astonishingly, even the Democrats are now conceding that tonight, they will somehow make the orgy of unicorn farts and pixie dust that will constitute their first debate boring.

It’s no wonder, really, that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wants these farces over with as soon as possible.

 

 

* note – this includes only Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley – the others are so insignificant to the ultimate contest that I did not bother to check their positions. My apologies to Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb for absolutely nothing.