The candidates at ABC's September democratic primary debates
The ten candidates appearing ABC’s September democratic primary debates. Watching the debates can be informative and fun.
DonkeyHotey // Flickr

Biden. Sanders. Warren. Harris. Buttigieg. Booker. O’Rourke. Klobuchar. Yang. Castro. Ten names face off in the September Democrat primary debates Thursday on ABC and Univision.

The winner gets nothing. It’s two hours long. You should watch it. 

“Why should I watch this?” you ask. After all, it is only the third of twelve debates, and the actual primaries are still months away. Some of the debaters are polling at barely two percent, and ABC isn’t exactly Sunday Night Football when it comes to splashy presentation. Surely, it will be a dreadfully boring event?

Perhaps you’re right, you should still watch it. 

For one, It’s on a Thursday, you’ve probably got nothing better to do. Parties don’t start until the next day, after all. Chromecast it onto your TV while you do homework and absorb it through osmosis if you want. The stuff they are talking about is important. Seriously, they’re going to talk about healthcare, college affordability, climate change, gun control and more. Even though they are all democrats they differ wildly in opinions on these topics. In the civics sort of sense, it’s worth knowing who stands where and which candidate deserves your loyalty, or at least your curiosity. 

What’s that? You fell asleep as soon as I started talking about “civics?” Okay, fine. We want action, and the debates are going to have it. I promise, it’ll be juicy. Already, in the earlier debates Kamala Harris called out Joe Biden for working with segregationists, Joe Biden called Kamala Harris a cop. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg all tried to speak Spanish for some reason. The point being, anything can and will happen with so much at stake for these candidates, and you owe it to yourself to see it happen live.

Besides, some of these candidates have some pretty big ideas. Bernie Sanders wants to erase all college debt. Andrew Yang wants to give everyone a thousand dollars a month. Multiple candidates support large initiatives like the Green New Deal, universal healthcare, tuition free college, universal preschool, wealth taxes and others that would be transformative if they were to be enacted. The policy jargon they will use to discuss them can be dry sometimes but what they are discussing is genuinely interesting to learn about. Take the time to watch them explain these ideas and then use the information to sound smart about things at Thanksgiving dinner. It will make it worth it. 

“But I’m not even a Democrat, why should I watch this?” you say. Good question. You should watch this because it will be a mess. It will be one of those messes that you can sit back and just relish in. Everyone there is desperate to get an edge in, most of them aren’t naturally charismatic and it will almost certainly get catty. Treat it like a sports game when the other team has the ball, root for their failure and cheer when they slip up. Yet also, listen to what they are saying. “Know thy enemy” and all that. One of them will probably be the candidate running for election in 2020, get a feel for all of them and try to form some sort of opinion on them. It will feel good to make your own judgements based on seeing them in action as opposed to getting it second-hand from pundits or the media. 

The debates are like a bad movie, you need to make it fun to get the most out of it. Sure, politics shouldn’t be treated as entertainment, and you should seriously listen to the points being made, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Grab your friends and have a watch party. Laugh every time a candidate makes a shocked face when someone calls them out. Crack open your last White Claw and grumble at your roommate whenever they say something stupid. Order a pizza and force the delivery person to tell you which candidate they prefer. Get weird with it. Make it bearable so that you can scoop all the content into your brain without falling asleep. I think you’ll find that it can actually be a lot of fun, and you’ll learn something at the same time. 

Vincent Rendon can be reached by email at or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.