After yesterday’s terrorist attack on Paris, you’d think that foreign policy would have a much higher profile in tonight’s Democratic debate. That’s certainly a shift in emphasis that CBS, which is hosting the debate, was pushing for. But it looks like Bernie Sanders’s campaign has successfully rebuffed this attempt to change the topics covered in the debate.
This is in keeping with a larger pattern in the election. Republicans love to talk about foreign policy, while Democrats feel on safer ground on domestic issues. In the GOP debates so far, candidates have competed to see who could be more belligerent, at least rhetorically, towards ISIS and Vladimir Putin. The Dems, on the other hand, even with a former secretary of state as front-runner, prefer talking about inequality, the minimum wage, gun control, maternity leave, and other domestic concerns.
Still, even if the Dems are stronger on domestic issues, they shouldn’t be so eager to avoid foreign policy as a topic of debate. After all, whoever wins the primaries will be facing the Republicans next November, and better have good answers ready about how to deal with ISIS, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other foreign policy problems.