All the Places Mentioned in Last Week's Democratic Debates
Despite campaign platforms and media coverage that have focused with unprecedented intensity on matters related to the built and natural environments, last week's Democrat Candidate debates featured only one signature moment that addressed urban policies: the tit-for-tat between Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden over bussing policies in Berkeley, California, which has been widely discussed in the media since the debates.
Laura Bliss writes for CityLab to document the other, less ballyhooed mentions of urban policy and specific local contexts throughout the two-day debate event.
Bliss prefaces this analysis with an interesting idea about the way candidates use references to local and regional signifiers to build credibility and recognition with the audience:
On a presidential debate stage, place matters. With a slew of candidates jockeying for breakout moments and, in many cases, introducing themselves to a national audience for the first time, regional identifiers are one of the best sorting mechanisms voters get. But presidential aspirants must balance playing up their hometown roots to tell stories and display their relatability with the need to make sweeping gestures toward national reconciliation. Many reeled off campaign stops to build credibility with unfamiliar regions. Some places appeared as political touchstones, like the locations of recent mass shootings, or synecdoches like “Washington” and “Wall Street.” Certain candidates repeatedly highlighted geography as destiny—but it may be just as telling who abandoned their atlases.
The article includes a map of the specific place references that also indicates the candidates' hometowns, as well as a map of worldwide locations referenced by the candidates. The bulk of the article is devoted to each reference by candidates of specific locations and policies that affect communities.
Under the criteria for the next round of debates, scheduled for July, only 14 of the current candidates would qualify, so the sample size of opinion on matters involving cities from the Democratic candidates for president is bound to start shrinking, and soon. The criteria get even more stringent in September.