Analysis of the First Democratic Presidential Primary Debate 2015

By Carla Saskia Sanchez, Political Science student at Florida State University; Tallahassee, Florida.

Last night we saw one of the most exciting debates in the Democratic primaries to elect the presidential candidate who will face the Republican nominee in the race for the White House next year. And we were definitely not disappointed.

Various topics such as foreign policy, economics, immigration, firearms use, racism, climate change, etc. were mentioned. The live spectacle also counted on the presence of Hispanic journalist Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Español as moderator. Here I provide a summary of what was discussed.

Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, started on the right foot. He was direct, straightforward, and well-prepared with statistics. His campaign directly attacks economic inequality, and he did not hesitate to declare himself a defender of the middle and lower class. He also offered to eliminate pay gap in wages between men and women.

With regard to popular hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, he said he was in favor of this, and also made it clear that institutional racism must be abolished. He also acknowledged that the justice system is “broken” and we need to fix it.

Finally, he also talked about education, saying that every person in the country should have access to it. This notion is so simple and would produce citizens who are informed and prepared to search and find decent jobs.

The first point in favor of Hillary Clinton was her criticism of the NRA (National Rifle Association): “It is time that our country faces the NRA.”

However, she proposes that students should work to pay their studies instead of having free education. Perhaps her immense wealth has made her blind to the fact that not everyone can afford the extremely high tuition and book fees. Nevertheless, she said she is in favor of in-state tuition for undocumented students. But, will the families of undocumented students, and the students themselves, have enough income to pay the costs of going to college?

Finally, the candidate was in favor of paid maternity leave, a great incentive for working women who want to be mothers, and who need the security of an income and a safe return to work.

Martin O’Malley, ex – governor of Maryland, plans to expand Obamacare for all. That includes undocumented immigrants. Also, he said that it is important to improve race relations, between people of different ethnic groups in a country of great cultural diversity like the United States.

Ex-Senator Jim Webb, U.S. Marines Veteran and former Secretary of the Navy, was the only one to disagree with the other candidates on the #BlackLivesMatter movement. “Every life matters in this country,” was Webb’s response to one of the most controversial questions of the night.

Nor does he seem to be in favor of affirmative action, that is, give a special human groups that have been discriminated against (Latinos, African Americans, women, etc.) with the intention of amending treatment the damage done to these groups throughout the country’s history.

About immigrants, he did not hesitate in mentioning his wife, an immigrant from Vietnam. In 2007, Webb had introduced and supported a proposal that would grant citizenship to thousands of immigrants who were in the country. Now, he also believes that we need immigration reform.

Lincoln Chaffee was mayor, senator, and governor of Rhode Island. Despite not having much media coverage, he showed no fear when facing the most “popular” candidates and kept a good face and shared good ideas. “We have to stop these wars,” he announced. “There is chaos in the Middle East and it was caused by the invasion of Iraq.” Chaffee had also supported to pave the way to an education for young immigrant students in his state in the past ( He favors marriage between same-sex couples, and women’s rights. Despite not getting to talk much about Hispanics, he has good record as a supporter of the thousands of immigrants who come to this country with hopes of a better future.

Now that we know more of the Democratic candidates, we can start thinking about which ofone them might be the new president of the United States.

Here is what some people are saying:

“Hispanics are the fastest growing and largest minority group in the United States, which means that candidates should be paying particular attention to this group,” says Catherine Barrios, International Affairs student at Florida State University, of Guatemalan descent. “Hispanics are looking for candidates that will resolve issues that have been ignored for too long, and I feel that most candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are failing to do so.” She is also concerned about reform immigration policies and who will best deal with foreign affairs.

Other students agreed that the candidates don’t seem to address Hispanics enough. Antonio D., a Cuban-American computer science sophomore at Broward College, does not think any candidate truly cares about the interests of Latinos. However, that is not his main concern. “What’s important right now is someone who will cut down taxes, and fix the problem of unemployment.” To him, a Republican candidate would do the job.

Giancarlo Núñez, who calls himself “100% Hispanic,” and is a student at Florida International University, tells me that he does not care for what politicians say very much. His reason? “Because of the lack of diversity among the candidates, most of them are out of touch with the harsh reality we (Hispanics) are forced to live.” He also thinks that “they’re all too rich.”

What do you think? Let me know!

Twitter: @latinoamedicion and @carlasanchez_fl




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