This article appeared in the February 20, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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In praise of political conflict

John Locher/AP
Democratic presidential candidates (from left to right) former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas.
Linda Feldmann
Washington Bureau Chief

Today’s stories explore the rising political influence of Latinos, electoral disillusionment in Iran, life in an increasingly overcrowded refugee camp, equity in college admissions, and a scientist who finds beauty in unlikely places. But first, a look at last night’s presidential debate.

Last night’s Democratic debate was fantastic – not because any particular candidate “won” or “lost,” but because the candidates took the gloves off and went after each other. In the process, we the people learned something. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren showed us her fighting spirit is back as she went after Michael Bloomberg on his nondisclosure agreements and past coarse language about women. The former New York mayor reminded us that debating is not his forte, as Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden went after him on stop and frisk. 

The mega-billionaire Mr. Bloomberg, appearing in his first presidential debate, and Senator Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, brought to life the class warfare afoot in the Democratic Party. And we learned that Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, two Midwesterners who scored well in Iowa and New Hampshire, don’t like each other much. By attacking each other, they only helped Mr. Sanders, the Democratic front-runner. 

Grilling candidates on their pasts, including financial and medical records, and surfacing differences in thought are what political debates are all about – and a service to voters. Debates are not exercises in finding common ground. One of the six people onstage in Las Vegas will go up against President Donald Trump in the fall, and whoever that is will face the battle of a lifetime. Wednesday night was just a warmup.

This article appeared in the February 20, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/20 edition
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