Everyone on the right agreed that the Democratic debate last night was dull as dirt: No fireworks, no pizazz. The candidates didn't insult each other's looks or tell gory tales of mayhem or brag about their poll numbers. In fact, they did the opposite. They behaved like human beings. When the debate moderators insisted on discussing the most tedious beltway obsession since Al Gore and the buddhist temple -- Hillary Clinton's emails -- Bernie Sanders drew huge applause from the audience, and no doubt from every Democrat watching the debate at home, when he said:
"I think the Secretary is right. And that is I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
And that was the end of that. With the exception of some eccentric moments from former senators Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, the Democrats held a lively debate about ideas and exchanged views on how to deal with problems facing the country. They talked about guns and college debt and Syria and Social Security and much more. Not one of them looked like deer in the headlights, clueless about the subject at hand (something that happened frequently in the GOP debates), nor did they weirdly launch into their stump speeches at the slightest provocation.
Truth be told, they all seemed somewhat ... normal. (Or at least as normal as any politician can be.) And that is the last thing the Republicans wanted anyone to see. After all, some people who aren't deluded by Fox News and talk radio might then remember that this is serious business, and the GOP can't have that.
One never knows how these things will go, but at the very least one hopes that a majority of the Americans are still looking for someone sane and sober to run the country. It may not be as entertaining as Donald Trump raving about his wall or Carly Fiorina delivering a torrent of gruesome accusations against Planned Parenthood, but it's important. There was little suspense -- after all nobody was waiting with bated breath to see what crazy thing one of these candidates would say next. What they got instead was a stage full of experienced public servants with deep knowledge of government policy.
If there's one thing that was made obvious last night, it's that the GOP is one big heaping mess of a political party right now. The contrast between it and the Democrats couldn't be sharper and not just in the presidential race. After all, the backdrop of last night's event was a drama happening in the Capitol in which House Republicans can't agree on who should be Speaker. How do they expect, then, to bring the entire country together under one president? It's laughable. They're laughable. The candidates on the stage last night in Las Vegas, on the other hand, were serious.
Now it's true that there might have been some Republicans on their debate stage who aren't entirely clownish and who, in other circumstances, could show themselves to better advantage. But it's their party and they can't cry about this even if they want to. Every last one of them has been instrumental in making the GOP what it is today. All of them would likely be happy to see Trump out of the race and most of them wouldn't be sorry to see Carson go either. Every day, those two are out there spewing vile racist and anti-semitic rhetoric (among a dozen other offensive comments), making it almost impossible for the Republicans to gain a national majority and win the presidency -- even if they could past the unpopularity of the mainstream GOP platform, which is only slightly less repellant.
The differences between the two parties aren't just matters of debate style unfortunately. Now that we have seen the presidential candidates in both parties on the debate stage, it's clear that the two parties don't just have different political philosophies. They represent two different countries.
Republican America is a dystopian hellscape in which evil, violent foreigners are trying to kill us in our beds while rapacious jackbooted government thugs try to wrestle our guns from our cold, dead fingers and Planned Parenthood sociopaths are committing mayhem on children and selling the body parts. And that's just for starters.
Democratic America is a very powerful nation struggling with a declining middle class and economic insecurity at the hands of the ultra-rich, requiring some energetic government intervention to mitigate income inequality, solve the looming crisis of climate change and manage global crises without plunging the nation into more wars. They also must hold off that anarchistic opposition which sees the world as a dystopian hellscape and that may be the greatest challenge of all.
A little over a year from now voters are going to decide which country they want to live in. Let's hope they choose wisely. The rest of us are going to have to live in it too.