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A crowded, Democratic family gathering.
23 and You
The Democratic debates are going to feel like a long weekend with the whole extended family: grandfather figures banging the table, no-nonsense women in the clan taking the old guys to task; up-start kids you never met before demanding respect for their issues, too. The crowded format matches the lightning strikes in the age of social media: each of 20 candidates will hope to get ten minutes of talk and face time in these 2-hour bouts. But it begins to look less like a demolition derby than a board meeting, spanning Vermont to Hawaii, in search of a new center of gravity for a party that’s got to get it right this time—on climate, for example, and inequality, and the forever war.
In the Democratic debates starting Tuesday, we’ll be looking at a wide-angle portrait of a political class in recovery. It’s an astonishingly big field of 20-plus candidates—23 and you, we’re calling them. 23 varieties of the how-I-got-here immigrant story, from 14 states of the union. Seven candidates have served in the U.S. Senate; one in the Vice President’s office; six are women. The 58-year-old mayor of New York City is trailing the 38-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Before these Democrats debate, our guests this hour are speaking to all of them.
Former chairman of the FCC.
Professor at Harvard Law School.
Fellow at the Open Markets Institute.
Democratic presidential candidate for 2020.