The last two left in the race and amid the shadows of Covid-19, Sanders and Biden on Sunday night, finally locked horns in their maiden one-on-one debate of 2020, primary season, nine months after 20 Democratic candidates gathered for the first debate of the primary season.
Given the time of the debate, the on-screen faceoff was expected to be comparatively somber and pleasant tone but the results were not quite up to the expectation as Sanders was in no mood to mince the words. Firing on all cylinders, the social Democrat opted to attack his opponent more forcefully than he did Hillary Clinton four years ago in a successful campaign. Bernie after seeing the recent setbacks and familiar with the debating after contesting Hillary when it happened last time knew that bowing down would not be an option to proceed.
The last two democrats left in the race discussed the steps taken by them to cope with the novel Coronavirus as elderly individuals including limiting social contact, having staff work remotely and holding online campaign rallies. The septuagenarians also flubbed during their speeches as Biden at one occasion called the 2009 swine flu as N1H1 not H1N1 while Sanders recorded a repetition of replacing coronavirus with Ebola.
The former vice president also promised to come with a vice president from the opposite gender if he wins the Democratic nomination. Sander’s didn’t make such a pledge but said that his “very strong tendency would be to move in that direction.”
Debating amid Covid-19 Outbreak
Without a surprise, Corona and its spread dominated the debate. Biden advocated for expanding the screening, mandating at least 10 drive-through sites in every US state, bringing global leadership together to fight the disease that knows no borders and building new hospitals and health facilities.
Sanders while agreeing with Biden to open new hospitals with sufficient testing-kits and equipment to deal with the outspread, said that the state should protect the wages of Americans who lost their jobs because of the economic fall in the aftermath of Corona.
Fundamental difference between the two candidates was witnessed by the people who watched the debate on the television screens. Biden said that the virus requires a quick response from the government and that it should fund all the tests and treatment of the citizenry.
Sanders on the other hand, said that the virus exposed the flaws, weakness, and dysfunctionality of the entire United States healthcare system, which works in favor of the for-profit private industry in a time of crisis. He wanted the government to cover the costs of every American’s healthcare and not only during the emergency.
“In a good year, without the epidemic, we are losing up to 60,000 people who die every year because they don’t get a doctor on time,” Sanders said. “It’s clear this crisis is only making a bad situation worse.”
Biden in his counter-argument replied that the system proposed by the Sander’s would not be a solution as Italy has the government-run healthcare which failed badly during the outbreak and is near collapse. For Biden, the solution should be a publicly run health-insurance mechanism that competes with the private sector. The Vermont Senator with his revolution on the ropes wants to dismantle the private insurance in entirety. Conclusively, the pandemic just became a new bullet-point in the intra-party debate.
Biden at one point in the debate cut out the fundamental difference between him and Sanders – not just on the issue of healthcare but about the entire governance.
“People are looking for results, not a revolution,” he said. “They want to deal with the results they need right now.”
Yes to Results, No to Revolution!
The former vice president with Obama administration well known for his belief in incrementalism believes in the system, working within it for change and views politics as the art of the possible.
Sanders on the contrary is a revolutionary at heart and advocating for the reforms sees the current political and economic system – desperately needing a sweeping change – through the lens of socialist values and culture.
“If you want to make real changes in this country; if you want to create an economy that works for all, not just the few; if you want to guarantee quality healthcare to all, not make $100 billion in profit for the health care industry, you know what you need?” Sanders asked. “You need to take on Wall Street; you need to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.”
The talk became a feisty affair when the two septuagenarians went after each other on previous votes and past stances.
Sanders lambasted Mr. Biden for his support of considering cuts to the government-run Social Security retirement program as well as his votes against LGBT’s marriage rights, vote in favor of Iraq war, stringent bankruptcy reform, free trade bills and negative vote on the publicly-funded abortion.
“The people of America know my record, OK?” Sanders said. “For 30 years, I have stood with the working families of this country. I have taken on every special interest there is out there. And that is what I will do in the White House. That’s a very different record than Joe’s.”
Biden hit back at Bernie for his opposition to gun-control legislation in the past and a recent voted against sanctioning Russia for its meddling 2016 United States General Elections.
“Go to the YouTube right now,” Sanders urged viewers to see themselves Joe’s 1995 Social Security comments while addressing United States Senate. Biden who himself has taken many unpopular positions during his 50-year political career that were not in line with the current views of Democrat had to divert from the topic to save his face.
“The question is, what do we do from this point on?” he said to defend him.
The Democratic primary debate which may have been the last one before the General election after relocating from Phoenix to Washington, DC studio facility was conducted without audiences and a host of media. Polls formulate that Biden is in a good position to come up with new victories against Vermont Senator in Ohio, Arizona, Florida and Illinois allowing him to further boost his strength supplied by the delegates before the national convention in July. Meanwhile the primaries in Georgia and Louisiana have already been delayed.