Consistency Vs. Growth: Various Approaches of the Democratic Candidates

Posted: January 15, 2016 | By: Samuel McKinney Tagged: Blog
Martin O'Malley speaks at First Christian Church. (photo by Veronica Jandura)

Martin O’Malley speaks at First Christian Church. (photo by Veronica Jandura)

The Iowa Caucuses are just over the horizon.  Presidential candidates will come under increasingly intense scrutiny and criticism as we reach that time, and now, more than ever, citizens are giving heavy thought to what it is in a candidate they place the most importance on.  Two characteristics that I believe anyone would see some value in when considering a presidential candidate are reliability and relevancy.

When I say reliability, I mean a candidate that we can count on.  This is a candidate that can be trusted to stand firmly behind his or her own message.  Now, with relevancy, I mean to say that this person is current and evolving.  Their quick reaction and response to new events or issues demonstrates a firm grasp on the now and sharp awareness to the world around them.

A few of my fellow classmates were able to attend the Putting Families First Presidential Forum at the First Christian Church on University Avenue in Des Moines.  Nearly 200 people of various ages and ethnic backgrounds were in attendance, where Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley came to address questions posed by activist groups and concerned Iowa citizens.  Hillary Clinton was not present at the event, and a group of individuals prior to the start of the event had been chanting, “Where is Clinton?”  It seemed that her absence was frustrating and boo-worthy for numerous attendees of the Forum.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (photo by Kara Strickler)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (photo by Kara Strickler)

Bernie spoke quite well at this event, receiving a resounding approval from the crowd in attendance.  Not unlike other events where Sanders has spoken, the crowd was wildly animated and energized by his words.  While he did a nice job that day, going into particular detail about publicly funded high quality childcare, he also continued with his habit of drilling home the same several points he addresses each time he speaks.

That being said, there are positive and negative affects from this particular choice about messaging.  For one, people continue to speak on how reliable he seems to citizens, and this stems from his choice to most often stick to a very regimented set of speaking points.  By doing so, Sanders communicates to the people that he is steadfast in those causes.  This more or less consists of addressing economic inequality, the living wage, breaking up the big banks, regulating Wall Street, etc..  A citizen feels he or she can trust Bernie Sanders to defend the beliefs they share with him, likely due to the fact he tirelessly advocates for those ideas.  But at the same time, he fails to demonstrate relevancy.  His lack of relevancy, as mentioned before, undeniably injects doubt in the people as to whether he is capable of keeping up with the pace of the presidency.  Sanders’ views have been the same on certain issues for decades, and this potentially communicates a lack of growth.

Other classmates and myself were lucky enough to attend the Iowa Brown and Black Forum, held at our own Drake University in the Sheslow Auditorium, Monday, January 11.  All three democratic candidates took turns responding off-the-cuff to moderators, with the questions centering on minority issues in America.

Hillary Clinton seemed to stand out that Monday evening.  Clinton fielded her questions gracefully, with relevant personal anecdotes that surely struck a chord with the attendees of the Forum.  How Clinton handled herself at this event was a display of how she may be able to inch out Sanders.  Several times throughout her portion of the event, she was able to comment on specific and newly detailed plans to address several of the issues she feels most strongly about.  Hillary Clinton’s constant adjusting and building upon her political platform shows how she is taking into account the most recent events and developments in the world’s issues.  This allows for citizens to feel confident about the way she would lead this country as president.  That being said, these adjustments and additions to her messaging can at times result in a lack of trust in her as a candidate since she is often applying those adjustments and additions to her message without displaying a strong conviction in her core points.

The polls show that the race between Clinton and Sanders has become excitingly close.  It would appear that the candidate that pulls ahead would be the one who can find a happy medium between consistency and currency.  Both candidates seem to thrive on one end of this spectrum more than the other. However, the candidate who is able to instill trust in the people by standing firmly behind a specific set of principles, while also evolving as social and economical issues develop, will be the candidate who can overcome the other in the Caucuses.


Marcus Loffredo, Veronica Jandura, Jingting Huang, Rocco Stefanini, and Kara Strickler all contributed to this post.