After observing the debate, what struck me the most was that the top candidates and Andrew Yang received the most questions, and the environment received little attention.
I expected the top candidates to have the most air time in terms of questions, which is exactly what happened. However, I did not expect Yang to answer the most questions alongside the top candidates. At the same time, this made sense because most of the questions were about the economy, and Yang’s Freedom Dividend plan was related to the economy. Since Yang was one of the least popular candidates, asking him more questions gave a younger candidate more speaking time to demonstrate his qualifications as compared to the other more politically experienced candidates.
Although Yang gained more air time, he came across as a one-dimensional candidate who only knew about the economy. When he was asked about other topics such as education, his answers were not of substance.
In addition, the multitude of questions posed for entrepreneur Yang tested his differences from businessman Donald Trump.
Although most of the questions were — unsurprisingly — about the economy, I was disappointed to see that there were minimal questions asked about the environment. Although the climate crisis Town Hall occurred a week before the debate, environmental issues have repeatedly been disconnected from the presidential debates and campaigns (especially during Trump’s presidency), despite the fact that these issues will ultimately and heavily influence our lives.
The upcoming primary debate on Oct. 15 will feature 12 candidates—the highest number of candidates sharing the stage in a primary debate as of yet. In addition to the ten candidates we saw in the September debate, Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard will be appearing in the October debate, and I would like to see if they receive the chance to answer a high volume of questions like Andrew Yang.
— Ayushi Jain
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