Jewish News: Soifer’s Top Five Takeaways from Democratic Debate

August 2, 2019

By Corrie Colf

The 2019 Detroit Democratic Debate has come and gone. We witnessed the 20 Democratic candidates talk about important issues that are sure to be crucial in next year’s election.

Halie Soifer, Executive Director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), broke down night one for us and now shares five takeaways after the two-night debate.

1. It was great to see Detroit and Michigan featured prominently throughout both nights of the debate We know that Michigan is going to be a critical battleground state in 2020 and the issues impacting Michiganders really reflect the issues impacting all Americans. It was good to hear the candidates talk about the water crisis in Flint and even the automotive industry.

2. From the Jewish perspective, there has been questions about why Israel didn’t come up. I think that reflects the key issues that Jews are voting on in this election in terms of the issues that did come up. We know based on polling that Jewish voters are voting mostly on domestic policy issues. All the issues that were featured at this debate are the top issues for Jewish voters — healthcare, immigration, climate change, economic issues and gun control. Of course, foreign policy is important as well to Jewish voters, but it is not the top issue. Jews are confident where the Democrats stand on that issue.

3. I was happy to see the rise of white nationalism and the president’s racism discussed on both nights because this is also an increasingly important issue for Jewish voters. Whether it related to race relations, safety and security of our communities or gun violence, they addressed the issue of the president emboldening right wing extremists.

4. When the candidates specifically spoke about immigration, they spoke to what I consider to be a core Jewish value in terms of welcoming the stranger. When you compare that to the way the president has handled the situation at our border and created a humanitarian crisis, in the eyes of the Jewish voters, this is unacceptable. We know again based on polling that the president’s disapproval ratings are highest when it comes to immigration. It was good to hear the candidates talk about this issue at length and present a wide range of views about how to address the crisis at our border and immigration reform in a way that would be consistent with our values and done humanly. Jewish voters understand that there must be border security, but they also want us to treat people humanly.

5. All the candidates really brought something distinct to the table Each candidate had their own voice and views that they had the opportunity to express. This demonstrates the strength of the Democratic party. There is such diversity in terms of our leadership and the different perspectives and policies that these candidates bring to the table. Both nights were a great opportunity to showcase this diversity.

What’s next for the candidates?

The next debate is in September in Arizona. They are increasing the qualification threshold in relation to the number of donors and fundraising requirements because they want to dwindle down the number of candidates. It’s a great process because at some point they do need to help voters select a candidate because dealing with 20 people can be challenging. We will see what the numbers look like in September!