On Wednesday CNN hosted a town hall focused on environmentalism with the 10 Democratic presidential candidates qualified to stand on the September debate stage in Houston. These candidates are Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, and Elizabeth Warren.
Despite seven hours of conversations, there was no substantive talk. The majority of questions were asked by climate change activists tossing softball questions at the candidates, or Sanders supporters who wanted to attack other candidates — cough, cough Joe Biden — and their climate platforms.
Among the dull questions and lackluster answers, several moments highlighted Democrats’ full-fledged dive into extremist policies that will wreck the American economy and scientific advancement.
1. Julián Castro
The former Housing and Urban Development secretary was the first to step onto the CNN town hall stage. Even with the softball questions thrown his way, Castro took a long and awkward pause while trying to answer.
“Do you see any point in your career in public service where you wish you had taken more forceful action to protect the quality of our air, water, and soil. And what would you do differently if you faced a similar point today?” asked Kathleen Nolan, a pediatrician.
Then came 12 seconds of silence.
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) September 4, 2019
2. Andrew Yang
If you thought the gun forced purchase program proposed by Beto O’Rourke was absurd, just wait for this one. Yang proposed a potential government confiscation of motor vehicles that run on gas.
“So, what’s the answer? Are we all going to have to drive electric cars?” CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer asked.
“We are all going to love driving our electric cars,” Yang said.
“Will we have to drive electric cars?” Blitzer pressed.
“There will still be some legacy gas guzzlers on the road for quite some time. Because, this is not a country where you’re going to take someone’s like clunker away from them. But, you are going to offer to buy the clunker back and help them upgrade,” Yang said.
Andrew Yang refuses to say that Americans won't be forced to drive electric vehicles
Yang mentions a possible confiscation of gas vehicles, says the best option is a buy-back program pic.twitter.com/EXfjWsgteI
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 4, 2019
3. Kamala Harris
Harris had some cringe-worthy moments during the town hall. Her solution to every problem with big business was: “Let’s take ’em to court.”
She also admitted to her love of cheeseburgers, a sin only in the most progressive of circles. Harris vowed that if elected president she would change the way Americans looked at food in order to reduce their intake of red meat.
Finally, Harris said she wanted to ban plastic straws, while admitting that paper straws are the worst.
Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris wants to ban plastic straws, says about paper straws: "If you don't gulp it down immediately it starts to bend" pic.twitter.com/cnIddUuj1s
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 4, 2019
4. Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar actually made sense on the town hall stage, so, naturally, she faced a lot of post-debate backlash. Klobuchar told the town hall audience that she does not believe in eliminating fracking.
“You got to be honest with people about how you’re going to get the money,” Klobuchar said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar says her climate change plan will cost between $2 and $3 trillion, a stark difference from the price tag of Sen. Sanders' plan of $16 trillion.
— CNN (@CNN) September 4, 2019
But media outlets were quick to remind us that less-extreme plans, the ones that won’t fundamentally destabilize the U.S. economy, are not up to par.
Bernie Sanders: A
Elizabeth Warren: A-
Cory Booker: A-
Kamala Harris: B+
Joe Biden: B+
Julián Castro: B
Pete Buttigieg: B
Beto O'Rourke: B-
Amy Klobuchar: C+
Andrew Yang: C+
— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) September 4, 2019
Even though Klobuchar plans to spend between $2 and $3 trillion on re-ordering the U.S. economy and way of life, that is not sufficient compared to Sanders’s $16 trillion plan to do the same.
5. Joe Biden
The questions did finally get more challenging, but only for the candidate the mainstream media doesn’t want to see win the nomination.
Issac Larkin, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, accused Biden of going to a fundraiser with a fossil fuel executive the next day. Larkin was also introduced as a staunch Sanders supporter.
Now, I know you signed the no fossil fuel money pledge, but I have to ask, how can we trust you to hold these corporations and executives accountable for their crimes against humanity, when we know that tomorrow you are holding a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by Andrew Goldman, a fossil fuel executive.
“He’s not a fossil fuel executive,” Biden responded.
Goldman is a fossil fuel executive.
A far-left activist calls out Joe Biden his plans to go to a fundraiser with a fossil fuel executive tomorrow
Biden claims the man is not a fossil fuel executive
The man *is* a fossil fuel executive: https://t.co/Gdp3r5Dxwl
Joe Biden is a liar pic.twitter.com/4jQTn3GfLD
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 5, 2019
6. Bernie Sanders
A teacher asked Sanders about the growing population on Earth and how he would deal with that “problem.”
“Human population growth has more than doubled in the past 50 years. The planet cannot sustain this growth. I realize, this is a poisonous topic for politicians, but it’s crucial to face. Empowering women and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact,” Martha Readyoff said. “Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe?”
Sanders wordy answer can be summed up simply — abortions will help to curb that problem.
Democrat Voter: There are too many humans on earth.
Bernie: I agree. We need to fund abortions to poor, third world countries.
This is absolutely horrifying. pic.twitter.com/B2SBT053mz
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 5, 2019
Oh, and just a reminder, the woman who asked this question teaches children. It is no wonder students and parents are afraid of indoctrination in education institutions.
7. Elizabeth Warren
Warren claimed that her administration would no longer build new nuclear energy plants or use that energy source. Instead, she would replace it with renewable fuels. Yet nuclear energy is the most efficient and clean energy source available to us with our current technology.
When asked about nuclear energy–the single most efficient and clean energy source currently available–Elizabeth Warren says her administration will build no new plants. pic.twitter.com/U5ZkNVBzta
— Anders Hagstrom (@Hagstrom_Anders) September 5, 2019
8. Pete Buttigieg
Mayor Pete Buttigieg tried to compare the climate crisis to the difficulty of winning World War II.
“This is the hardest thing we will have done … this is on par with winning World War II. Perhaps, even more challenging than that,” Buttigieg said.
9. Beto O’Rourke
O’Rourke claims his 8-year-old asked him if the O’Rourke family would still live in El Paso, Texas if his father were to become president. The innocent question then turned into O’Rourke saying his son was intelligent enough to know that climate change is making El Paso uninhabitable.
“No, if we win, the way this works we would live in Washington D.C., but he knew. Because, I had told him about the warming that we face, that our community will be uninhabitable. It would not sustain human life along this trajectory unless something dramatic and fundamentally changes,” O’Rourke said.
Beto O'Rourke says his 8 year old talked to him and that he knows El Paso "would not sustain human life unless something dramatic changes" with climate change.
I'll take "Things That Never Happened" for $800, Alex. pic.twitter.com/VqPdIHZn4J
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 5, 2019
O’Rourke also made an odd parallel between the Green New Deal and Nazi Germany.
10. Cory Booker
Besides calling himself a “Star Trekian,” Booker’s climate conversation was waning. It did take place at 11:30 p.m. on a week night.
Booker did address one issue that appears to be fear mongering and vote pandering — environmental racism. Booker and other candidates addressed how nonwhite people and low-income communities are disproportionately effected by climate related issues.
People of color, low-income communities and family farmers are on the front lines of climate change—economic and environmental justice demands we transition to a carbon-neutral economy as soon as we possibly can.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) September 4, 2019
While there seems to be no science or statistics to prove this, CNN was more than happy to push that narrative for the duration of the climate debate.