Getting Adversarial in Atlanta
reviewing the 5th Democratic debate
November 20, 2019 – Candidates are starting to drop out, and it appears South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is rising in the polls. Is the Democratic race about to shake itself up? Find out who was penalized for not answering questions last night.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Penalty for not answering the question: Mayor Buttigieg was asked if he would increase or decrease military spending. He said he would "re-prioritize" it by focusing on 21st century threats. Since this response could be interpreted as either an increase or a decrease, a penalty flag was thrown.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
Penalty for not answering the question: Senator Sanders was asked if he if he approved of his supporters shouting "Lock Him Up", referring to President Trump, at several Sanders' rallies. The Senator took the opportunity to criticize President Trump on a range of topics, before calling for Americans to pull together for the common good. But he never explicitly expressed approval or disapproval for the chants.
Penalty for not answering the question. Tom Steyer was asked about his opposition to special interests using money to influence politics. How, the moderator asked, did this differ from the estimated $300 million he had spent to further his own political interests. Steyer talked about the importance of changing election law and increasing governmental accountability, but didn't address the fact that he had spent a lot of money while trying to influence politics.
Penalty for not answering the question – Andrew Yang was asked how he would handle the aftermath of a terrorist attack or disease outbreak. Yang decided to mention different threats such as Chinese AI supremacy, and the need to catch up technologically with the rest of the world.
Candidates can receive a penalty for the following infractions:
- Failing to answer a question
- Failing to stay on topic
- Candidates can receive a technical foul by comparing their opponents to the Nazis.
- Nazi comparisons are lazy. If you'd like to compare Donald Trump's ban on Muslims entering the country to a historical precedent, why not try McCarthyism, or the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, or the Jim Crow south? Instead, people always grab the low-hanging fruit of the Nazis to make their point.
- Nazi comparisons ignore the fact that there are still Nazi parties alive and well in many countries. They have not receded to the dustbin of history and currently have at least one member sitting on the European Parliament.
- This is a debate. And nothing shuts down a debate faster than a Nazi comparison. It is our strong opinion that such comparisons send all parties to the barricades and prevent anyone from actually communicating. Disagree strongly, and make your case the best you can, but leave the Nazi metaphors at home, please.