Debate Night Two

What a difference a day makes! It was like last night was the kiddie table, and tonight was the adults, playing for real.

Marianne Williamson had it right. It’s not about specifics, policies, it’s about playing Donald Trump’s game and beating him. The news says it’s about the weeds, when clearly it’s about the forest.

Now it’s a conundrum. Where a couple of candidates are ahead of the public, most specifically Bernie Sanders tonight. People attacked him for his radical ideas, but his message, that the hoi polloi have gotten screwed for forty years and radical change is necessary resonated. Incremental change is a thing of the past. That’s one thing Trump realized and Bernie has too. You’re playing the long game. It’s not about individual debates, you stick to your message and pray that it resonates.

That’s what screwed up Joe Biden. He’s playing old style politics. Look at what I’ve done in the past and give me the reins. Isn’t this exactly what snuffed-out Hillary Clinton’s campaign? Turns out people don’t want safe, they want change. Trump couldn’t fulfill all of his promises and Sanders or Warren won’t be able to either, D.C. doesn’t work that way. But the little things do count, like the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. Of course that’s a big thing, maybe the biggest thing, but it doesn’t resonate with voters. They’re interested in the veneer, not what’s inside. Blame it on the educational system, blame it on a lack of time or interest, but just like people don’t want to know what goes into a hot dog, they just eat ’em, people want to turn over their problems to one person, they don’t want to dedicate their lives to politics.

But politics has become the story of the day. That’s what’s interesting about the music business, all anybody wants to talk is politics. Because there’s so much at stake. It’s not as simple as defeating Trump, it’s about having vision, fixing the wrongs of the era of greed, turning the ship around. And people know this. The Trumpers want to go back to the past. Sanders and Warren want to go headlong into the future. And normally the future scares people, but when you’re alone on a desert island you’re willing to take any chance to make it to safety. This is what the Democrats still don’t realize. The rank and file, the blue collar workers, have been waving their arms for years, calling attention to their plight, but no one seems to be paying attention, so they threw in with Trump, at least there was a chance it would no longer be business as usual. And it hasn’t been.

And then we’ve got the pundits and the polls. It’s way too early and these are the same people who got it wrong in 2016. When you’re part of the establishment your vision is clouded, you can’t see the whole picture, you want to hold on to the power you’ve got. Unlike Karl Rove, who in today’s “Wall Street Journal” called attention to how the Democrats are far ahead in small online donations. And Rove lamented that the new Republican competitor would fail because it’s for-profit, instead of non-profit, like the Democrats’.

Even better was Bernie Sanders’ piece in the same paper, albeit two pages later. That’s right, Bernie’s screed was entitled “Trump Is The Worst Kind of Socialist.” If you read it, you’ll be sold. Unlike Biden, Bernie is not just saying Trump must go, he’s both eviscerating the right’s main attack upon him and doubling-down by delineating his position. And sure, this is substance, but it’s the way it’s delivered that’s so important.

But you can’t read either of these pieces, by Rove or Sanders, because they’re behind a paywall. Which represents the haves and the have-nots. The rich have their clubs. The rich have the “Wall Street Journal.” The poor have got the nightly network news, which is all surface all the time.

The reason Bernie succeeds is he delivers his position with passion. Listening to him speak tonight you had no doubt that he believed everything he was saying. This was not Hillary taking a poll and being hamstrung as a result. Bernie’s willing to drop the bombs and deal with the fallout.

As for the vaunted performance of Kamala Harris… She too evidenced passion. And she showed her prosecutorial skills to the nation at large. But I’m not sure that’s what’s gonna close people. It’s about the vision thing. It’s not about grinding it out yard by yard, but throwing the long ball, getting so far ahead of the populace that people have no choice but to pay attention to you, to see whether you succeed or fail if nothing else.

Hell, it’s like Evel Knievel. No one liked the man, but everybody tuned in to see whether he could pull off his daredevil feats. He was a showman. Trump is a showman. You’ve got to understand it’s entertainment or you can’t win.

Hell, it’s hard to square Bernie, with going to Russia, being a New York Jew who moved to Vermont, of all places, when you couldn’t get lox, never mind a real bagel, who has no problem labeling himself a democratic socialist. It’s like someone who walks into a bad neighborhood oblivious, believing their belief in themselves will always carry them through.

So unlike last night, the secondary candidates were not complete losers. But some didn’t realize it was about a performance primarily, and others did, but then you wondered…who is this person again?

And the competitors are all thumping their chests, telling us what they did. We don’t care what you did, we only care about what you’re going to do! So, once again, Bernie shined tonight.

The crowd will thin, or be separated into winners and losers, those with a chance and those without one. Biden can only go downhill from here. By staying above the fray he’s gotten rusty. We saw tonight that Harris would have no trouble standing up to Trump. But this election is not about criticizing him, but getting in front of the man who has no vision of the future and doesn’t even know the past that well. Bernie brushed Trump aside. That’s how you win, you don’t let the losers bring you down, you play your own game.

As for Warren…she hasn’t hit the big leagues in the debates yet. Let’s see how she plays when she does. She’s certainly got the vision thing down, but tonight it seemed Kamala had more fight, she could definitely pull a knife on Trump.

Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to hear the same messages for eighteen months, we’re going to be bored to death, the election process is way too long.

But there’s so much at stake.

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