For two consecutive nights, potential voters will have their first prime-time encounter with the 20 Democratic candidates who share one ultimate goal — claiming the title of Mister or Madam President.
The first Democratic presidential debates will air tonight and tomorrow night live on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo at 9 p.m. With eyes of millions upon them, qualifying candidates will be given the opportunity to define and differentiate themselves among the crowded field, all in only a two-hour slot.
The 2020 race will no doubtedly be one to watch, given the vast variety of candidates who are vying for the Democratic nomination. The field of Democratic presidential hopefuls is also the most diverse one in history, given the record number of women and people of color who are running.
While options are good, such a large field of candidates can, unfortunately, come with a large overlap of ideas, which makes this debate one to watch for those who plan to cast their ballots in the primaries. Regardless of if voters are undecided or already committed to a particular candidate, there are various things all should be mindful of while tuning in.
From President Donald Trump’s nickname dismissal of candidates such as Mayor Pete “Alfred E. Neuman” Buttigieg or Joe “Sleepy Joe” Biden, it’s no secret the incumbent has his eye on his potential contenders. While trading insults may be entertaining to some, it’s crucial for voters to look beyond the candidates who only bank on anti-Trump rhetoric to get ahead in the race.
Candidates must earn votes with persuasion, not pandering. Attacking Trump won’t matter when he’s no longer in the White House. The American people deserve a President who has a vision for change, not slandering the other side.
In addition to policy plans, voters shouldn’t solely support a candidate because of the numbers. As far back as October, former Vice President Joe Biden has held a healthy lead in the polls, long before he officially announced his entry into the race in late April.
While the numbers don’t lie about Biden’s frontrunner status, it’d be presumptuous to assume him as the nominee this early in the race. It’s critical for voters to hear out everyone’s views, especially the lesser-known and low-polling candidates who often go overlooked by the mainstream.
Most importantly, voters shouldn’t make up their mind after these debates are over. Two hours is not nearly enough time to be well-versed on what all 23 candidates have to offer. There are 10 more debates, and the second one will air on CNN as soon as next month.
Take in what every person has to say, both in rebuttal and when discussing their own ideas. Research every candidate’s record and their evolution on certain positions. Every voter reserves the right to vote for the candidate that they believe will best champion the issues which matter.
The first primaries aren’t until next February, which is plenty of time to make up your mind before you cast your ballot. For now, watch the debates with the knowledge that all votes are valuable and all who ask for it aren’t deserving of its worth — especially at such an early stage in time.