The first 2020 Democratic debate in Detroit was about a lot of things (Medicare for All, immigration, guns), but it was fundamentally about whether Democrats should let their freak flags fly.
At center stage, you had the night’s frontrunners—Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders—who believe a progressive can win by exciting the base. Generally siding with them, though doing so in a more temperamentally moderate style, was Pete Buttigieg. Their mantra is essentially the left-wing version of the Reagan line, co-opted by Ted Cruz, about “a banner of bold colors, no pastel shades.”
Around them were moderate backbenchers—former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan—who believe a more pragmatic candidate has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump. Sometimes siding with them was Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who warned at one point that, “We are more worried about winning an argument than winning an election.”