News of a potential bipartisan debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump has sparked immediate enthusiasm and excitement on the internet after Trump tentatively agreed to Sanders’s invitation on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
The amount of interest it has generated is unsurprising—it’s historically unprecedented for candidates from different parties to debate one another before nominees are chosen, and with Trump and Sanders poised as the ultimate outsiders of this election, it adds an additional layer of intrigue to the scenario.
After Hillary Clinton reneged on her promise for a May debate in California, Sanders cleverly decided to take control of the narrative, offering an opportunity to Trump instead for the free media (something the billionaire rarely turns down).
Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 26, 2016
If the debate goes through (according to The Hill, “discussions are underway,” although the Trump camp has not officially responded), make no mistake: it would be an enormous win for the left.
During the primary, Trump dominated almost every GOP debate, even against of field of 15 well-tested establishment Republicans. Despite his complete lack of policy specificities—“getting rid of state lines” is all he could muster up for healthcare—he was somehow able to manipulate even seasoned debaters such as Ted Cruz.
Trump’s bullying persona allowed him to run roughshod over dozens of Republicans—but Sanders is different.
Sanders’s entire political persona encompasses policy positions. There would be no personal attacks to argue over (such as Trump’s insults of Cruz’s wife) or gossip-based taunts (as Trump would no doubt mock Clinton with). Sanders is the antithesis of Trump: authentic, sincere, and inherently interested in discussing the issues that matter to Americans.
Trump’s buffoonery and complete lack of political knowledge would be exposed in a nanosecond; Sanders’s detail when it comes to his healthcare plan, proposal for free public college tuition, increase in taxes for the wealthy, infrastructure spending, and Wall Street regulation would easily blow Trump’s vague promises to “bring jobs back” and make America “win” again out of the water.
The Republicans also largely failed against Trump because they appeared frightened of the retribution they would incur if they attacked him. This was a massive mistake, as the only time Trump ever faltered was when Cruz and Marco Rubio aggressively tag-teamed him during a debate and uncovered him as a fraud.
Sanders has no such qualms. He has little left to lose, which makes him an excellent, assertive choice to take on someone as combative as Trump.
If Trump truly agrees to this debate, his hubris will likely be one of the major blows to his campaign—he cannot hold a candle to the deep authenticity of Sanders.
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