The Atlantic

Democrats Search for Their Own ‘Make America Great Again’

Top candidates such as Elizabeth Warren tried to avoid wonky policy proposals and focus on big, sweeping messages last night.
Source: Maveric Pictures / Mike Blake / Kamil Krzaczynski / Rebecca Cook / Mike Segar / The Atlantic

In more than two sprawling hours of serial discussion that sometimes even came close to “debate” last night, 10 Democratic contenders for president—and the time-obsessed moderators who questioned them—served up a vivid contrast between the micro and the macro in American politics. It was a display of the difference between the specific policy proposals that connote a respectable résumé (or that contain a potential time bomb) and the big, animating ideas that tend to win elections—whether that message is “Yes we can” or “Make America great again.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper played prosecuting attorney. From the start, he peppered the candidates with gotcha questions on whether they’d support raising this particular tax to pay for that particular program, then cut them off if the network’s debate ground rules (or a producer’s voice in his ear) meant it was time to move on. Undeterred, several of the candidates fought to prove their bona

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