David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Aug. 01, 2019 5 min read

Already, CNN is devoting itself to starting fights. I hate watching this crap.

Nice work from Booker there.

I'm loving this from ...Bill de Blasio?

The whole point here is that you're either paying in private healthcare costs or you're paying in taxes. Which gets you more & better healthcare? It would be awesome if someone would make that clear.

Jesus Christ, CNN has now pushed this decriminalization thing into three debates. Is it really the most important immigration question? Is there really nothing else in immigration policy worth talking about?

I can't catch what these people are saying and I didn't catch what the previous protestors were saying. Does anyone know?

Uh, "cherry pick the best from every culture" gives me the creeps.

I continue to be confused by positive reactions to things Bill de Blasio says.

Good lord, Biden is getting battered from all sides.

Oh man, Biden continuing to appeal to Obama in every single answer is not a good look.


Inslee: If this one problem isn't addressed, literally nothing discussed on this stage will hap...

Moderator: MOVING ON...

Oh Andrew Yang, that ain't it.

This is kind of a bizarre argument on climate. No one's actually disagreeing with anyone else!

Booker! "Nobody should get applause for rejoining the Paris agreement. That's kindergarten." 🔥

Man, where is the Biden charm? Where's the wit, the memorable lines? I like the guy, but I haven't seen a single moment of that sparkle on stage, in either debate.

My general impression is that pretty much everyone *except* Biden is having a good night. Everyone's had some good moments.

Note the moderator assumption that taxes intrinsically, by their nature, "hurt the economy." This is a deeply right-wing ideological assumption, unsupported by data, that has seeped so far into DC conventional wisdom that talking heads barely recognize it as a contestable claim.

Another deeply ideological assumption: we are in competition with China, as opposed to a mutually beneficial, non-zero-sum relationship.

Honestly I feel like if you gave Yang enough chances, he could eventually sell the public on this UBI thing.

Who's left to attack Biden? Yang, you want a shot? Bennett?

Is there a cartoon dog that Bennett reminds me of? Am I making that up?

Tax the hell.  https://www.taxthehell.com/ 

"This is the warmonger's hoax: there is no shelter." Pretty good quote!

Commenters have confirmed: it is Droopy Dog that Bennett reminds me of.

Well, that was ... whatever. Biden took a beating, but otherwise there was no clear breakout. If anything, the striking feature of the night was that all the c-listers had great moments! Lots of smart candidates in this field.

Biden: "Eight more years of Donald Trump will change America in a fundamental way." I mean ...

Kinda feel like what happened is that Reuters said Biden was going to do a "middle ground" climate plan, but then Biden came out with a pretty strong climate plan, but then all the other candidates attacked him for it anyway. Not sure the result was very illuminating.

I would give my left arm for a good focus group on climate in the debate. What, if anything, did average people take from that? One of the problems with climate in high-profile settings is that the people paying attention know way more about it than most people.

Everyone's arguing about Andrew Yang's adaptation plan, which who gives a fuck, neither he nor the plan are relevant to anything. It's just that the dumpster-fire debate format ensured that his bizarre answer was the only clear or memorable moment. How does this help anyone.

The issue that eclipses all other issues, and the moderators rushed right past it.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/7/31/20749602/jay-inslee-mitch-mcconnell-senate-filibuster 

One thing that bugs me about the primary debates is they obscure the fact that Dems are fairly close to one another and all WAY, WAY distant from Republicans. To Very Online people that seems obvious, but I'm not your average low-info voter understands it.

Actually, the more I think about it, the entire primary-debate format just seems like garbage. You can justify them if you start by assuming them & work backward. But if you were designing elections from scratch, trying to educate & inform voters, would you design ... this?

One of Ezra's basic critiques of media, one of the reasons he started Vox, is that so many media formats are premised on the audience knowing a basic background set of facts. But audiences often don't! They need the trunk before they know where to put the branches (as it were)...

... and I think it's the same with elections. The cable-news primary debates assume viewers already know the basic issues facing the country, the basic differences b/t the parties, the basic policy options, etc., and dive straight into haggling over small differences. But ...

... anyone familiar with the survey literature knows that most Americans know very little of that stuff, so they have no way of putting these smaller disputes into context. It sounds silly -- & certainly will be mocked by Very Savvy media types -- but what US elections need ...

... is some Explanations™️. We need some way to educate the public on the issues, the parties, etc. The basics. Where are they supposed to get that stuff? "Debates" and other cable-news theater are designed for ratings, not educational value. If anything they mostly mislead.

Anyway, I'm just imagining your average semi-engaged voter tuning into those primary debates, effectively as their introduction to the 2020 presidential race ... and what a bizarre set of impressions & lessons they take away. We're just not serving voters well.

Looking at the transcript again, I see that Jay Inslee said these words on a national stage, thus fulfilling one of my life hopes:

"Get off coal. Save this country and the planet."

You can follow @drvox.


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