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What We Can Learn From the Democratic Presidential Debate

*This article does not represent the views of Her Campus FSU

Courtesty: CNN

Tuesday night was the first Democratic Presidential debate hosted by CNN. Having just under half the amount of candidates as the Republican Presidential Debate, this debate had a much more intimate stage. Candidates considered everything from what enemy they were most proud of making to why they should be the next president of the United States. So, besides the fact that the democratic party is tired of hearing about those damn emails, here’s what we can learn from the debate. 

Who are the Candidates? 

Names were put to faces when Anderson Cooper formally introduced viewers to the five candidates. Using the image above, the candidates are (from left to right): former Senator of Virginia Jim Webb, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, and former Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee. 

An 82-Year-Old Banking Law is Still Relevant, and It Is Raising Some Eyebrows

If Martin O’Malley were live-tweeting the debate, there’s no doubt #GlassSteagall would be trending. In fact, it is estimated that the law was referenced at some point during the debate no fewer than eight times. Signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, the Banking Act of 1933, also known as the Glass-Steagall Act, prevented commercial banks from participating in investment banking. The law was named after the two Congressmen who supported it, Carter Glass, a Democrat from Virginia, and Henry B. Steagall, a Democrat from Alabama. This act meant to cut ties between the two forms of banking as people suspected that the connection had ultimately led to the Great Depression; the act also quelled Americans’ fears about having a similar financial meltdown.

How did this law come into play at the 2016 presidential debate? For starters, the Glass-Seagall Act was repealed in 1999 under the idea that it was no longer needed. Not even ten years later, the largest recession since the Great Depression occurred, appropriately named the Great Recession. With this, some believe that the repealing of this law largely contributed to the economic downfall of 2008, which is why candidates, namely Sanders and O’Malley, are calling for the reenactment of the Glass-Seagull Act. 

Candidates Are Not Huge Fans of the Keystone XL Pipeline

All but Webb agreed that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not do the environment any good. Clinton even went so far as to call the proposed pipeline a distraction from fighting climate change. Others suggest advancements in technology and invest in cleaner energy. The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline however is not a favorite among environmentalists. As the fourth installment of the Keystone Pipeline System, the Keystone XL Pipeline would be another version of Phase I of the Keystone Pipeline System, but with a shorter route and a larger pipe. The arguments stands that many believe the pipeline would be a danger to the environment, while some such as Webb believe the consequences would not be as substantial, and the project would create work for many Americans in need of such. 

Economic Inequality is Still Very Much Relevant

Bernie Sanders certainly lead the discussion on economic inequality Tuesday night. His stance concerning the amount of money going to the top 1% is just one of the ideas behind the term “democratic socialism” that has arisen to describe Sanders’ political stance. Sanders’ plan to combat economic inequality includes signing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work. Sanders expressed his concern with the greed of Wall Street and exactly how much the top 1% own—and he’s not the only one. O’Malley at one point addressed his wanting to protect Main Street from Wall Street, as well as separate the “too big to jail, too big to fail” banks. Both O’Malley and Sanders support raising minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Clinton and Chafee support a raise in minimum wage, however they did not advocate for the raise to $15. Webb did not take a position on the issue during the debate. College affordability was unsurprisingly another financial concern amongst college students. Sanders, O’Malley, and Clinton all have plans to lower the costs of school in the coming years. Sanders has stated his idea of tuition-free college, while others plan to work toward debt-free college. Either way, the general consensus among candidates was that college tuition is certainly higher than it needs to be. 

Gun Control is Important Now More Than Ever

Another shooting in Oregon a few weeks prior brought the topic of gun control back into the debate. Incredibly relevant and fervently debated, gun control is nothing less than a pressing issue. Sanders began by bringing up points of mental health, saying that everyone in this country who has a mental crisis deserves immediate medical help. However gun shops that sell guns to these individuals cannot be held responsible for lack of such knowledge, but gun shops should still have the right to know whom they are selling to. Clinton stated that Sanders was not tough enough when it came to guns, advocating for people to take a stand against the NRA and encouraging background checks. She brought up the Brady Bill, also known as the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, a bill that mandated federal background checks of anyone purchasing a firearm, saying over two million people have been prevented from purchasing firearms since its establishment. O’Malley showed support for gun control as well as advocating for taking a stand against the NRA. Webb brought a different perspective into the debate—Anderson Cooper stated that Webb once had an “A” rating from the NRA—by stating that background checks were absolutely necessary however citizens still have the right to protect themselves. Chafee agreed that things have to change, and added that people believe in the second amendment, they just have to find common ground. Generally, all candidates agreed that background checks were necessary and that there should be stricter laws concerning guns (with the exception of Webb), it is just a matter of how strict these laws should be and how each candidate goes about doing such. 

Alexandra Pushkin is a student at Florida State University. Following graduation, she will continue to work toward her goal of becoming an editor. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she is fascinated and inspired by art in all its forms, and often experiments with different media (fashion and DIY are her middle names). In her spare time she enjoys tending to her garden, reading interior design books, throwing brunches with her lovely friends, and cooking, of course. Three words: pumpkin cheesecake cups.
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