We’ve made it to the final Democratic debate of 2019, which is saying something. There have been five of these monstrosities, each more extravagantly boring than the last. The big “wow” moments never last more than a few days, and the next debate pops up so quickly you forget anything that was said last time around.
If there’s anything to look forward to this time, it’s the slimmer field and new moderators. Only seven candidates qualified for the December debate, which should mean more airtime for everyone. PBS NewsHour and POLITICO are in charge of moderating, which at least throws a slight unknown into the mix. But odds are the sixth debate will be as unbearable as the last five, which means you might as well use it as an extra excuse to get tuned up on a Thursday night.
Here are the drinking rules for debate number six.
Take a Drink If …
Pete Buttigieg is asked about/attacked for his time with McKinsey. This was a rule in our last game, but Buttigieg’s McKinsey connection has received even more scrutiny in the weeks since. It’s not just the consulting firm’s shady connections, either—it’s Buttigieg’s unwillingness to break his McKinsey NDA. Finish your drink if he brings up some assurance about clearing it.
Buttigieg repeats and/or is attacked for repeating right wing talking points. Whether it’s focus on the deficit or his belief that middle class Americans shouldn’t pay for billionaires’ education, Buttigieg has become a walking, talking Heritage Foundation information packet.
Joe Biden tells a weird story. Biden seems to be declining in real time, which makes a weird, rambling story totally possible. Finish your drink if he makes any digressions about leg hair.
Impeachment proceedings are discussed. Another rollover rule designed to get you nice and toasty. Obviously they’re going to bring up impeachment, it’s just a question of how often. We don’t expect you to drink each time it happens. But if one of the senators on stage mentions their role in the proceedings, finish your drink.
Amy Klobuchar attempts a terrible joke/bad pun. Maybe the best staple rule we have. Klobuchar offers next to nothing as a candidate yet swears she should be polling higher. Maybe it’s because her jokes suck. But by god, she’s gonna make ’em—and you’re gonna drink.
Bernie Sanders says the word “billionaires.” Again, we’re just trying to create a baseline level of intoxication here.
Elizabeth Warren’s private legal work is mentioned. Warren revealed that she made nearly $2 million as a lawyer over three decades. That’s not the biggest of deals, but there’s a decent chance it’s mentioned if not used in an outright question.
Any candidates not on stage gets mentioned. This debate was notably more difficult to qualify for. Tulsi Gabbard complained and said she wouldn’t attend anyway. Cory Booker and Julian Castro didn’t make the polling cut. Kamala Harris dropped out (for other reasons, admittedly). But if any one of them (or other candidates) are mentioned, drink.
Andrew Yang receives a question that would be better answered by Bernie Sanders. Among Yang’s best qualities as a candidate is his ability to relate to contemporary culture, particularly. Sanders, meanwhile, is a policy stickler who wants to talk about nothing else. So if the moderators ask Yang something about healthcare and pawn off a question about teenage vaping to Sanders, drink up.
Tom Steyer laments his own wealth. One of the pleasant surprises of the last debate, Steyer seems to know what’s up and that he’s the beneficiary of a rigged system. It’s probably all campaign imaging and posturing, but if he’s willing to acknowledge it, we’re willing to make you drink about it.
Finish Your Drink If…
Someone mentions Yang is the only candidate of color onstage. There aren’t many non-white candidates left, which makes this worthy of note. As noted above, Harris is out while Gabbard, Booker and Castro are essentially non-factors. Still, it’s unlikely anyone says the quiet part loud.
Trump tweets during the debate. This is a staple rule, and one that requires you to follow along with Twitter just in case.
PBS/POLITICO experience technical difficulties. Another staple rule. If the lights go out or the mics aren’t synced up, drink up.