Sanders and Warren Dominate the First Detroit Debate Night.

And, I love it.

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Source: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

I don’t know what I expected when I went to watch night one of the Democratic Debate in Detroit, but to say it exceeded my expectations in almost every conceivable way would probably be an understatement.

July 30th was an absolutely incredible night for the left.

From the moment Elizabeth Warren walked out on that stage, beamed at Bernie Sanders, and shook his hand, I knew the tone they were setting. I knew that they looked at the names of candidates who would be sharing the debate stage with them, and they determined what they had to do. They succeeded in ways I’m not sure their campaigns could even have anticipated, and in the midst of a circular firing squad when it came to nearly every single issue addressed over the course of the nearly three hour debate, they consistently rose above.

There is no way I could possibly get to every instance where they impressed me, but the highlights were obvious for many.

While they both performed exceedingly well, Bernie Sanders was the winner beyond a shadow of a doubt. Elizabeth Warren was of course in a close second, but Bernie has been hinting with recent rhetoric both on television appearances and campaign emails that his gloves might be coming off for this debate, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. When Tim Ryan told Bernie that he couldn’t know that vision and dental care would be covered under Medicare for All, and Bernie responded with “I know, I wrote the damn bill!”, that alone could have been enough to declare him a winner. But it didn’t end there. He called out misleading statements when he heard them, and was fiercely unapologetic in his beliefs and clear with his case to the American people. He delivered a debate performance that I’ve been waiting for since the first time I saw him debate Hillary Clinton over four years ago 2015, and I can’t even begin to describe how reassuring and satisfying it was.

While Bernie may have been the overall winner, there’s no denying that Elizabeth Warren had the line of the night when she essentially asked John Delaney why he was even running. She looked at him, and said: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for. I don’t get it.”

The audience erupted.

Both of them held their own, and used to debate to call out the Republican talking points not just from the moderators, but their fellow candidates as well. In the face of fierce opposition, they reclaimed Medicare for All and what it truly means to be on the left. The debate filled me with a sense of energy, a renewed sense of pride and enthusiasm I haven’t felt since Bernie announced he was running again. I have never been more confident that one of them will take the nomination, and there will be good days in the near future for the American left. I sincerely hope they will keep it up, because there is no denying the two of them and their solidarity resonated with the audience last night. They knew what they had to to, and they delivered. Let’s see more of it in the debates to come.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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