First Half of the First Democratic Debate: Trade Not a Topic

By Matthew McMullan
Jun 27 2019 |
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Not a topic at all!

It’s presidential primary debate season! The Democrats are beginning the long work of determining who will be their party’s challenger to President Trump in the 2020 election … and they’ve got a lot of determining to do. Tonight was only half of the field of candidates who qualified for the debate!

Just look at the number of people on this stage:

Candidates not pictured. The guy who dresses like the Riddler and rants about free money and Conan, who kinda had the best moment of the debate with his succinct answer to a pointed question from the moderator: What is best in life?

Good answer, Conan! Conan nailed that one.

Anyway, most of the rest of the field spent its time introducing themselves to the voting public. They talked a lot about healthcare, immigration policy and climate change; the guy worth an estimated $93 million talked about growing up in a working-class family; they all took turns hassling Beto O’Rourke; and everyone talked in generalities about the real problem of economic inequality.

But they didn’t talk about trade policy at all. Even as headlines like these are produced now on the regular …

… it wasn’t raised as a topic, by the moderator or the candidates themselves. Despite the potentially huge effects that Trump administration trade policy could have on the economy, it just wasn’t discussed. No one even criticized it, which is what you’d expect from an opposition party holding a primary debate!

Toward the end, a moderator did ask the entire field to identify the largest geopolitical threat to the United States, and four of them said “China.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) specifically called them an economic threat, as did Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). That’s kinda remarkable; the trade negotiations underway right now between the Trump administration and the Chinese government would seem to be a topic ripe for discussion in a primary debate.

Maybe it’ll come up tonight, when the second half of the field (including Joe Biden, a talking horse, Gandalf, Mayor Pete and Bernie Sanders) locks horns?