It's been a crazy election year so far, full of twists, turns, and upended status quos. And we still have a long way to go.
Now the Primary Season is upon New York, and as it happens, it will be at a pivotal time.
It is widely expected that whomever wins the Democratic Primary in the Empire State will be favored to win the Democratic Nomination.
The stakes are very high, and New Yorkers could potentially decide the next President before the General Election even begins. That’s YUGE!
So let’s take a look at the candidates, their strengths and weaknesses, and try to sketch out a picture of how the debate will go.
Of course, we'll actually be there Thursday night when the #DemDebate goes down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Look for us on TV? Not likely.
As members of the press, we'll be relegated to what will ultimately be a tucked away viewing party on location, though not present in the Debate Hall itself, because, well, that's politics.
But this is a pivotal debate in a pivotal arena at a pivotal juncture in American politics. It's, well, pivotal.
You know who she is. She’s the former First Lady of the United States, a former Senator from New York, and the former Secretary of State.
She is the presumptive favorite to win the Democratic Nomination.
She’s politically savvy, widely accomplished, and greatly experienced. She is deeply respected by World Leaders everywhere, and a skilled debater.
She has a killer instinct that she seems to have been reluctant to harness so far this Primary Season, something that may change right here in New York.
Also, Hillary Clinton jumped out to an early delegate lead and has never relinquished it. She’s still the favorite.
She’s made a ton of enemies. Now that President Obama is closing out his term, it’s Clinton that has drawn the most fire from Republicans and now Bernie Sanders and especially his followers.
She is currently the most maligned politician in America. But here’s the kicker, that’s nothing new! She’s been under constant, steady fire for about 30 years now.
Because she’s so used to being attacked, Clinton has developed perhaps the thickest skin in politics. Nothing fazes her, and like a hardened battle veteran, she knows how to get through a fight.
She’s won big and lost big at this point, and what is ultimately her defining characteristic is that she takes a ton of heat when she campaigns for a job, but when she leaves it, it’s to a great approval rating.
Regardless, this is a campaign coming down to who makes the most mistakes. So far, Clinton’s biggest mistake has been underestimating the drawing power of Bernie Sanders’ message.
He’s a septuagenarian Democratic Socialist Senator, born in Brooklyn, but now native to Vermont.
He was an Independent until recently, joining the Democratic Party relatively shortly before announcing his candidacy for President.
Sanders has absolutely ignited the millennial voter base, engaging them in the political process as no other candidate today has.
He tackles important issues that absolutely must be dealt with, such as income inequality, unjust and predatory student loan practices, and advocates the regulation, if not dissolution of the Big Banks.
Sanders wants Big Money out of politics and rightly believes that if this gets accomplished, America will drift back to the Democratic Republic it is meant to be, rather than the oligarchy it arguably already is.
Foreign Policy. Sanders has stumbled badly on this issue. Take him out of his “shut down Wall Street” zone, and he looks a little lost. The "Leader of the Free World" needs to know a lot more about it than Bernie has shown that he does.
Add that to the fact that he sometimes has trouble explaining how he will even accomplish his lofty domestic goals. He did himself no favors when he started off his interview with the New York Daily News by telling them he rode the subway to get there, and used a token to do it. Yikes.
New Yorkers are tough to fool, and the subway token thing set Sanders off on the bad foot in NYC.
Despite his missteps, his mistakes don't actually seem to matter. His followers border upon zealotry with their loyalty.
But while he continually harps on how Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War, Bernie’s bad history of being in bed with the National Rifle Association is continually overlooked or dismissed.
That’s politics, baby. It’s all spin, and Bernie Sanders is doing a great job of hitting the high points and glossing over the low, and it’s led to seven victories in a row for him.
More and more Gun Violence Prevention Advocates are getting more and more vocal about Bernie Sanders’s involvement in the PLCAA, legislation that gives legal protection to firearms manufacturers in a way that no other corporation enjoys.
Now, we don’t mean frivolous suits that any nut can file against any corporation at any time, but legal immunity for sellers who irresponsibly allow people who should not have guns to buy them.
This story flies in the face of Sanders' "little guy against the big corporation" narrative, and if it gains legs, it will hurt him.
Bernie Sanders got invited to join the Pope in a conference to discuss human rights at the Vatican. That’s a big win for him and his campaign. This could offset any negativity.
The Panama Papers story is still unfolding, and depending upon which prominent American leaders get exposed as being involved in that mess, it will have massive impacts on both campaigns. Nobody knows how that will fly.
Well we’re at the point in the season where the gloves are off. Both Candidates are looking for the knock out punch on the other, something they were both reluctant to do before recently.
Bernie Sanders is going to try and stay in his comfort zone on attacking the 1%, economic inequality, and the Big Banks. He will likely try to hit Hillary on her past, including that vote for the Iraq War.
He is sure to get mad applause for everything he says, as his followers are loud and dedicated, acting almost as a second opponent for Clinton to deal with.
Hillary has a harder road to travel. She will be criticized to no end if she shows the same type of anger and finger wagging that Sanders gets away with, and acting cool and collected will get her called an unfeeling robot. This will be the closest she’s ever been to being on the ropes in her career.
You can expect Clinton to talk about her experience and accomplishments, and she’ll try to control the narrative more forcefully. If she succeeds, you can expect lots of talk about foreign policy, and Gun Violence Prevention.
In short, Sanders will hit Clinton on Iraq, and Clinton will hit Sanders on guns. Bernie won’t be able to paint Hillary with the “career politician” trope we see over on the Republican side because Clinton can come right back at him on that one.
Regardless, the Democratic Debate will be the most important yet, and the ramifications of it will be felt all the way through the General Election.
Where better than New York City for such a pivotal event to happen? It's pivotal![Feature Image Courtesy TronvigGroup]