The second round of debates intended to narrow the Democratic presidential field from 24 to one took place in the former auto city of Detroit, now reduced to a shadow of its former self. In keeping with this decline, the Democratic Party chose to introduce the event by a display of Americana: Veterans of Foreign Wars marched solemnly behind a giant flag accompanied by a drumbeat that evoked an Indian war dance, leading up to Deedee Bridgewater singing the National Anthem. I could be mistaken, but I do not remember such a display at previous debates, one obviously intended to prove that the Democratic Party is just as patriotic as the Party of Trump.
Surprisingly, especially after this display, Russiagate was absent from the debate. The foreign policy segment was limited to the question of whether the US should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan — and perhaps Iraq. (Were the candidates deliberately spared the loyalty test of having to accuse Vladimir Putin, with whom we need to be talking, of “attacking our democracy”! Since Democrats have been the most vocal on this subject, it’s difficult to believe they could be moving on from the virulent Russophobia that has characterized the last three years.)
The main subject of the debate was whether and how the richest country in the world could or should ensure health care to every inhabitant, as even the poorest nations do to the extent of their ability. In the latest twist, it is no longer enough to believe that health care is a human right and not a privilege — as declared almost a century ago by FDR: you have to be willing to defend ‘taking away’ employer plans that unions fought for, in the name of ‘government controlled – and hence by definition inferior — health care for all. While the candidates all threw cost estimates at each other, not one pointed out that the reason why the US, alone among nations, cannot ‘afford’ health care, is the enormous budget reserved for its offensive wars!
AOC and her ‘gang’ are determined to bring the Democratic Party into the 21st century, making it a left-wing party. However, no one has defended this goal by pointing out that among other things, it would eliminate the ‘spoiler effect’ of a third party candidate running for president, drawing votes away from one of the two main parties. If the US is to continue under a two-party system, with one committed to the right, the other must be left. And that, rather than health care or foreign policy as such, is the basic problem for a Democratic Party desperate to halt America’s rush to the bottom.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.