Takeaways from CNN’s “Masked Democratic Primary Debate”

Last night, twelve candidates met in Westerville, Ohio to present their visions for the future of the country. It marked the fourth of twelve scheduled primary debates, a seemingly endless calendar of predictable and shallow pageantry. To keep things fresh, this month’s event featured a fun bit of Halloween spirit as the candidates packed the crowded stage in elaborate costumes for the first ever “Masked Democratic Primary Debate,” hosted by Jane Lynch and moderated by Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and singer-songwriter JoJo.

The historic event began with a bumbling parade of colorful characters blindly feeling their way to their designated podiums as Jane wryly teased their identities to the judges. The Phoenix, The Atlanta Blooper, and The Handsy Skeleton each took their places to resounding applause, but the audience’s enthusiasm steadily petered out as they were flanked by The Gato, The Tin Man, The Porcupine, Officer Eagle, The Pineapple, Ollie the Extreme Labrador, The Executioner Wasp, Times Square Elmo, and Scrooge McDuck.

After nearly three hours of spectacle that almost nobody watched, here are the winners, the losers, and what it means going forward.

Rising from the ashes

All eyes were on The Phoenix, who returned from a short stay in the hospital renewed and passionate as ever as they presented a radical vision of a just transition to a more equitable future. As expected, their statements drew fire from the moderators and several of the other contestants. The Atlanta Blooper and The Pineapple came to The Phoenix’s defense on several occasions, presenting themselves as more pragmatic versions of the same idealism while peppering in nationalism and a vague defense of free-market capitalism.

The Left’s answer to Donald Duck

Viewers no doubt noted a newcomer onstage dressed as Scrooge McDuck, who argued that only a billionaire outsider could save the masses from a corrupt political system. With so much attention being drawn to the enormous amount of inequality in America, it’s difficult to imagine that McDuck will be able to buy their way past the New Hampshire Primary.

A prickly entrepreneur

Though every candidate struggled to project through their foam heads to some degree, The Porcupine had the most difficulty being heard. Over the course of the night they were given just six minutes to speak, and used their precious little time to pitch a plan that would give Dreamers and ICE agents $1000 a month each to address the climate refugee crisis. They then concluded with a self aggrandizing joke about porcupine stereotypes, receiving an exasperated sigh from the audience.

A humerus moment

Of the twelve candidates, only The Handsy Skeleton took their performance offstage, at one point venturing out to the judge’s table to whisper a response into JoJo’s ear. Disoriented and unsteady, they fell into Anderson Cooper’s lap instead, then got defensive and told a meandering story about a party they once attended with the late actor Rock Hudson.

A pillowcase full of disappointment

The pack of less popular contestants on the edges went home with more tricks than treats this year. It’s still early in the race, but some of the more lackluster candidates are getting desperate for attention as they slip further and further into the single-digits. Officer Eagle received a long applause break when they compared the President to a moldy pumpkin, but was unable to follow the slam up with anything resembling a coherent policy position of their own. The Tin Man and Times Square Elmo spent the debate pleading for everyone to get along like sad siblings at a divorce hearing, and Ollie the Extreme Labrador fell off their podium and yelled “Attica” while paramedics carried them offstage.

We can only hope that there will be fewer names to memorize by November, but with seven contestants still clinging to life from the stands in addition to the dozen on stage, it’s still anyone’s guess who will go home with the gold in 2020.

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