The Cruz/Sanders Debate on Obamacare

Let's see more displays of what debaters call "value clash"

Last night’s debate between Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders was exactly the kind of entertainment America needs. We need more “Debate Nights” like this: value debates that unapologetically clash between the two conflicting worldviews of today’s politics.


To see a 90-second summary of the debate, click here.

Most debates are either policy or factually driven, presenting plans to solve problems or disagreeing over facts and figures. Last night’s debate espoused value debate, a deeper level of debate that pits two worldviews against each other to attempt to explain to the American people which of the two is better.

Value debate is a specific kind of debate. I’ve coached it and written numerous Monument Publishing releases that espouse this unique kind of debate (my most prominent piece is Red Book for Lincoln-Douglas Debate). For students, a judge is given a ballot to hear two debaters express a value to uphold and convince the judge either affirm or negate the resolution.

The resolution last night wasn’t stated outright, but it’s fair to exposit that the resolution was the same as a 2012 resolution of the National Forensic League:

“Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee universal health care for its citizens.”

On the Affirmative side, you have Bernie Sanders. His value is socialism—or democratic socialism, as he likes to explain. Because America is so rich, the US government should take from the rich and distribute the same kind of healthcare the rich enjoys. This isn’t theft, but a duty—a duty that the rest of the industrial world takes up, but America doesn’t. In the Sanders world, it is right and just to provide healthcare to the masses.

On the Negative side, you have Ted Cruz. His value is capitalism—or free market enterprise, that will provide healthcare. America may be rich, but they are rich because government stays out of the distribution of income. This isn’t greedy or selfish, but a system that works—works better than anywhere in the world. In the Cruz world, free markets will provide the best healthcare to the most people.

Socialism vs. Capitalism was on display last night. This is the debate of our day. The two on stage were giants of both, and they each articulated the clash between the two values very well. Each would explain their side, attack the side of the opponent, explain how Obamacare would be rewritten under each worldview, and so on. I loved watching the exchange of ideas in a civil manner. We need to see more debates like this.

If you watched the debate, who do you think won?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • David Carter

    The debate and the debaters were great. You could actually use this as a model for what would be the best you could hope for from a public debate, of course Cruz was actually a debater so we should expect nothing less. I think Cruz’s biggest faults were deflection, non responsiveness and difficulty conceding the obvious. Sanders faults weren’t as obvious,probably bias on my part, he did keep coming back to healthcare as a basic human right and pushed Cruz several times that his proposition of universal access was meaningless and meant acknowledging that people would die. Cruz did fight back acknowledging people die under both systems but under his the government is not the decider, of course what that really means is money decides. I think he also backdoor admitted that single payer equals rationing but he would rather have the govt ration than personal wealth be the factor. In the end kudos to CNN for doing these, they had Ryan and Pelosi on individually the last couple weeks and it has actually been good informative TV, but Cruz and Sanders were outstanding because they were able to keep it civil.