New Hampshire and New Debates: How Bernie Sanders Can Bring in the Win

Photo by Nick Solari vie Flickr.com
Photo by Nick Solari vie Flickr.com

On Monday, the state of Iowa held its first-in-the-nation presidential caucus to apportion the first delegates toward the nomination of both one Democrat and one Republican to pursue the Oval Office.  After a heatedly-contested night, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won by only the thinnest of margins:  0.3 percent.  With Clinton’s victory including coin tosses and allegations of fraud and corruption, it is little wonder that even the typically pro-Clinton media is no longer singing her praises.  Many pundits have declared Bernie Sanders the de facto victor of the showdown, having proven he can go toe-to-toe against the most dominant non-incumbent in presidential election history even after starting the race with no name recognition or establishment support.

Having proven he is truly electable, Sanders is enjoying a surge of positive momentum and is even picking up some noteworthy endorsements.  No longer able to confidently declare that Sanders lacks the ability to win over large groups of voters, Clinton and her campaign must adjust their strategies.  To heighten the tension, the departure of former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley from the Democratic race, after a weak showing in Iowa, injects the possibility that Sanders could inherit a small-but-important bloc of additional supporters.

Tonight is the first Democratic presidential debate featuring only U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, giving America its first view of a true mano-a-womano political battle between the two.  Without Martin O’Malley in the middle, these two titans will be able to engage without a third party providing any sort of buffer.  Tension and competition will be amplified, with no third voice able to redirect or subvert growing anger.

The competition between Bernie and Hillary is about to get kicked into high gear, and the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont has an excellent chance of making this week his best ever.  To bring in a big win, Bernie Sanders must get his opponent to answer three hard-hitting questions (in addition to his successful attacks about Clinton’s Wall Street connections).  By expanding his repertoire of political debate, Sanders can bring home a resounding win at the podium.

1.)  How can you be a tireless proponent for children and universal public education but not support universal health care?

Many pundits have hammered Bernie Sanders over his bold proposal for universal health care in America, insisting that such a goal, though noble, is politically divisive and just too dang expensive.  However, these pundits are all ignoring the fact that universal health care is a moral and ethical imperative and an inalienable cousin to universal public school.  That’s right:  If you support universal public school for America’s children, you cannot successfully argue against the need for universal health care. 

If our children have a right to be educated, they also have a right to basic health care.  This is inarguable, and is a quicksand trap for any politician or pundit who tries to insist that the two are not the same.  In our society, we have insisted that children, regardless of cost or political effort, should be educated.  How can we declare that we will educate even the children who are less intelligent, engaging in misbehavior, or have special needs but suddenly talk about pinching pennies when it comes to protecting the health of these exact same children?

I guarantee you that Hillary Clinton, and anyone else who says we don’t need universal health care, will stumble epically when confronted with this question.

1.1)  On a similar track:  How can you be a tireless proponent for children and public education but insist that free, universal education stop at age 18?

This is also a tough question to answer, and would force Clinton into a wordy discussion about the difference between secondary and post-secondary education.  I can promise that no answer she gives will satisfy anyone more liberal than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

2.)  You have continually tried to cast yourself as the only presidential candidate who, once in office, can “get things done.”  However, you have repeatedly discussed Republicans as being your “enemy” and claimed that they are engaged in smear campaigns against you.  How does this translate to you being more able to work with them than I?

This question brings up the awkward fact that Republicans hate, hate, hate Hillary Clinton.  It also pokes holes in her frequent claim that she can “get things done” in a GOP-controlled Congress.  The former Secretary would no doubt struggle to explain how she could overcome the intense hostility between herself and the GOP to be a more effective chief executive than Bernie Sanders.  How can she be so intensely hated by Republicans…but get more done with them than Sanders, who is viewed with more confusion and bemusement than anger.

3.)  You have continually tried to cast yourself as the most experienced candidate in the race.  However, you have only won two political elections during your career, and both against relatively unknown Republicans.  Compared to my own record and resume, why do you believe you would fare better against the Republican nominee this fall than I would?

This is one of several elephants in the room when it comes to Hillary Clinton.  Though the mainstream media and the Democratic Party establishment have tried to portray Clinton as a powerhouse of experience, the math simply doesn’t add up.  Forcing her to explain this unworkable math, especially in light of Sanders’ depth of political experience, will be a real eye-opener for the viewing public.  How could Clinton possibly equate two victories over no-name Republicans with Sanders’ fourteen political victories that tally eleven Republicans bested?

There are other questions that could be asked, to great effect, but would be more controversial.

Photo by Nick Solari vie Flickr.com
Photo by Nick Solari vie Flickr.com
Photo by Nick Solari vie Flickr.com
Photo by Nick Solari vie Flickr.com

Calvin Wolf

By day, Calvin Wolf is a high school social studies teacher. By night, he is a freelance writer and novelist, penning political thrillers and commentary on politics, education, economics, foreign policy, and culture. In the past, he's worked as a professional cartoonist and as a backpacking guide. He once stood between a mother bear and her cub and emerged unscathed!