” CNN’s Big Town Hall with the Big Five – Big Opportunity for Candidates to Win Over Youth ” – April 22, 2019.
” Big event, big’ wigs, and big advantage ”
What is it ? It is CNN’s First Youth focused Town Hall.
Where ? At Anselm College, Manhattan, New Hampshire.
When ? Monday, April 22, 2019.
Who is the host(s) ? Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, and New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Why the Town Hall ? Millennials and Gen Z generations will represent more than one third of eligible voters by Election Day in 2020. Their views are critical to governance. Hence the interaction.
Who are the players ? Democratic Presidential hopefuls : (1) Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota. (2) Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts. (3) Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont. (4) Senator Kamala Harris, California, and (5) Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Indiana.
Who are the Umpires ? Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon of CNN.
What is the aim ? Young voters to engage with Presidential Candidates and ask Questions on Topics driving Youth Agenda.
Who is the Audience ? 500 young voters (including more than 200 Harvard students).
What are the Issues covered ? Climate change, Economy, Healthcare, Education, Gun violence, Foreign Policy, Lowering Voting age, Trust in Institutions, and Political System.
Let me start my coverage and presentation of the Town Hall event.
First, Senator Amy Klobuchar – moderated by Chris Cuomo of CNN.
Rejoining International Climate Treaty will be her topmost action, if she wins.
Senator Amy Klobuchar supports Grand New Deal, but with some changes ( Climate change is happening now, not 100 years from now. Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri will be flooded ; California, Colorado, and Arizona will be engulfed with fires if we don’t take action now – she said ) ; Senator Amy Klobuchar supports Universal Healthcare but not Medicare for All fully ; Senator Amy Klobuchar affords a solution to fix racism in Criminal Justice System through taking the First Step Act further ; Senator Amy Klobuchar supports Education but not fully tuition free education ( she pitches for refinancing student loan debt, expand Pell Grant program, and to bring back democrats’ plan to make community college free rather than tuition free college ) ; Senator Amy Klobuchar does not support Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s call for refunding special education and trying to get rid of special Olympics funding ; Senator Amy Klobuchar has high expectations and hence establishes tough standards for work in offices ; Respect for dignity of work is her philosophy of Governance.
” Impeaching President Donald Trump is the business of the Congress. However, Mueller should be brought before the Senate for a hearing too. The important aspect in the whole issue is that President should be made accountable. ” – she added to a question on Impeachment of the President.
Figure below represents Senator Amy Klobuchar’s key actions as President :
The three elements comprising her actions are : fixing the infrastructure , fixing the school education , and raising corporate taxes.
Senator Amy Klobuchar views nutrition as very important and strongly supports healthy food in kids’ lunches.
Senator Amy Klobuchar ended with the remark that ” it is your moment now ” putting all students high on the pedestal of judging performance.
Second, Senator Elizabeth Warren -moderated by Anderson Cooper of CNN.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s vision for a new America consists of three elements : Grassroots Foundation ; Infrastructure Building ; and Minimum Wage.
Figure below represents Senator Elizabeth Warren’s priorities :
Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to break up tech giants like Google and Amazon ( with annual return more than $ 25 million ) to limit their control over e-commerce. She also wants a 2% tax on Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million with an additional 1 % levy on billionaires. Rich should pay for the poor, middle class – be it Housing, Student loans, Healthcare.
Senator Elizabeth Warren defends Law Enforcement by accelerating new Gun Safety laws and stringent background checks.
” It is not about Politics, it is about Principles ” – she said when asked about impeaching President Trump. ” Congress has the accountability and the tool available to us is the Impeachment process. Mueller Report has all the fundamentals, points, and footnotes. ” – she added favouring Impeachment.
While lauding Barack Obama for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the financial crisis of 2008, she was full of admiration for him.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s chief message is that the present system does not work for companies that want to drill ; the present system does not work for companies that want a prescription bill ; the present system does not work for companies that want to encourage workers and unions ; the present system works only for companies in Wall Street. This needs to change. She is confident that unions will help build American middle class and big investment in housing will spread the opportunity for more people to progress.
Senator Elizabeth Warren put common people above the wealthy in every answer. She touched the hearts and minds of common people with her genuine concern for their lives on all issues. She centred around programs towards the path of a Supreme Nation which she has been advocating in her political career.
Third, Senator Bernie Sanders – moderated by Chris Cuomo of CNN.
Senator Bernie Sanders proposes to promote a healthy and happy planet for all Americans to live.
Figure below represents Senator Bernie Sanders’ Key Initiatives Triangle to bring back American Glory :
High quality, Optional, publicly funded “Pre School” for all Americans with every dollar invested giving many many more times returns causing less dropouts is where America’s future lies – he avers. He wants to defeat Trump by exposing him as a liar. Distinguishing between Humanitarian and Military efforts to bring peace internationally he supported Democratic changes to countries but without military intervention – be it SA or Venezuela. Cyberwar is calamitous and catastrophic, according to him.
Role of U.S.A. in the world is as important as the Economic issues like jobs, healthcare, and climate change. I am now thinking more of foreign policy issues than earlier and that is a significant change in my book, he added.
Defeating Trump is more important than impeaching the President, and the recipe for that is more talk on minimum wage, healthcare, education, climate change, and less talk on Trump/Mueller/Impeachment. He seems concerned that it will work for Trump beneficially if economic growth discourse is shelved.
Right to vote should be extended to all citizens whether they are terrible people, people in jail, murderers or terrorists because it is an inherent American right to participate in our democracy.
Senator Bernie Sanders sounded clear and firm in giving shape to his policies and promises while being transparent and accountable is what I arrived at in this discussion.
Fourth, Senator Kamala Harris with Don Lemon of CNN as moderator.
Senator Kamala Harris’s vision is centered around a single concept – “Safe America”.
True leadership lies in sharing the concerns of people. True leadership shall recognise who we are as Americans in soul and heart. True leadership shall strive to bring unity and not division. True leadership shall ensure equal treatment for all citizens. This is her vision.
Figure below represents Senator Kamala Harris’s Priorities Triangle :
Senator Kamala Harris supports ‘Medicare for All’ program, an expanded public option for health insurance that increased and renders individuals with high income levels also eligible.
Senator Kamala Harris supports Gun Control measures, and she avers that swift executive action will be taken if Congress failed to pass any new gun control legislation within 100 days of assumption of power.
Senator Kamala Harris cited “making America prepare for Cyber War” as one of her top priorities. She felt that this is a war without blood and one for which America is not prepared. Our infrastructure is becoming more and more vulnerable and greater attention is required.
Senator Kamala Harris supports impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump because : (a) Mueller Report provides enough evidence in the direction of Trump administration engaging in obstruction of evidence, and (b) the primary reason for contesting the election is to get rid of President Donald Trump, a premise I’m sure most Americans share – according to her.
Senator Kamala Harris was not forthcoming when questioned about the voting rights of people in prison, Boston Marathon Bomber, people on death row, and people convicted of sexual assault. She said – ” we need to have that conversation “. Bernie Sanders supported voting rights clearly earlier in his discussion.
Senator Kamala Harris promised to act in a way that every citizen will be treated as ideal as described in the Declaration of Independence.
Senator Kamala Harris appeared energetic and forceful and perhaps raised the temperature and impact of the Democratic nomination process with the opportunity provided in this Town Hall.
Fifth, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with Anderson Cooper of CNN as moderator :
” We have to deal with the condition of Democracy; the way we make decisions; we have to be cautious .. .. We need to show greater concern about Climate Change ; We have to deal with unfairness and inequality in our economic system today ” – the three important issues he points to when asked about his decision to contest.
Figure below represents Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s priority triad :
The three elements comprising the priority triad are : (a) Jobs and employment benefits , (b) Affordable Healthcare, and (c) Debt free college.
While Mayor Pete Buttigieg finds Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to give relief to students with debt appealing, he wants that to be tied to the tax code while being sceptical about high income group participating earnestly.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg does not favor voting rights for the incarcerated. He sees it as the punishment for the crime committed.
About impeaching President Donald Trump, he shares the view that he would have to remain more focused on relegating Trumpism to the dustbin of history, and that the impeachment process which in any way is the task cut out for the Congress and the Senate should be allowed to take its own course.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s proposal for immigration reforms lies in a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will be tied with protection for dreamers, pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, relevant reforms to clear up the bureaucracy and the backlogs in the lawful immigration system, and reasonable measures on border security. This will also define his leadership.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg seems to rely upon learning from experience as a growth factor in one’s career. He defended his 1000 home policy that met with strong criticism ( demolishing 1000 deteriorating houses in 1000 days ) specially from those adversely impacted.
“Faith leads him to pursue humble and faithful service to the people” – to the question as to how he will try to unite conservatives, moderates, and liberals in the election.
Just two weeks in campaign mode, he assured everyone that he will develop his policy page of his website to better understand views and actions.
Conclusion : Fair questions and fair answers. All candidates fulfilled their solemn responsibility in an effective manner. About 2500 hours of the audience time should be taken to mean virtuousness with praise and acclaim for the event.
500 youth as audience. 5 candidates x 60 minutes each = 300 minutes. 500 x 300 = 150000 total minutes. 150000 ÷ 60 = 2500 hrs.
Several facts emerged from the discussion and hopefully the doubts of the audience may have dissolved and apprehensions put to rest.
This town hall is a pleasant departure from other town halls this season in that the audience ( students including 200 from Harvard ) focused mostly on high impact issues – impeachment, immigration, and importance of the candidate contesting rather than the ordinary health, safety, training, taxes, growth and the like.
This may well set the audiences’ and peoples’ thinking in the direction of who ( I mean in the broader terms of Democrats or Republicans ) can take care of the citizens better.
Audience in the Town Hall may have blessed all the candidates.
” Dieu avec nous “
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 – 12. 49 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” There is no bottomless well of unlimited money in Washington. The only government money that any person can get, whether from Washington, from the city, or County treasurer, or from the Town selectman, must come from the taxes he pays out of his own pocket. ” – George M Humphrey.