If the Democratic Debate was a Grad School Seminar…

By Tiffany Baugh-Helton and Sarah King

Elizabeth Warren is the professor. Everyone wants her to be their adviser. Warren has invited her most senior advisee to lead the day’s discussion. She’ll sit back with a slight smile on her face for most of the seminar until someone really screws up, at which point she’ll use exactly five words to course correct, reminding everyone that she’s in charge for a reason.

That advisee is Bernie Sanders, who’s in his ninth year in the program and sort of a legend. He does Marxist analysis even though everyone says he’ll never get a job. New grad students are visibly taken aback when he starts yelling.

Pete Buttigieg went to an Ivy League school for undergrad, and is rumored to be a “genius.” He makes brilliant points, but you start to wonder if he’s either not read the whole book or is intimidated by his more senior classmates.

Beto O’Rourke dated several women in the program his first semester, and he was sure he’d end up working with Dr. Warren. But Beto bombed his first semester, and now, instead of talking enthusiastically about his uni-life days and favorite professors in undergrad, he expounds on how he came this close to getting A’s and working with Warren.

Tim Ryan is in this class. He’s also in your other seminars, but you didn’t learn his name until November. When Bernie or Dr. Warren ask for his input, he stares at the questioner without blinking for an unnerving amount of time.

Steve Bullock transferred into this program from another program. No one knows where he came from or how long he’ll stay. He makes up in quantity what he sometimes lacks in quality. He frequently gets yell-y with Bernie.

This is not John Delaney’s first-choice program, so he smiles condescendingly at everyone, sure he doesn’t belong here. Except, you know, he didn’t get in anywhere else. He reads the wrong book or misses the point of the right book entirely.

Amy Klobuchar is the grad student that no one is quite friends with but everyone is afraid to disagree with.

Marianne Williamson is the undergrad who got permission from Dr. Warren to audit the grad seminar. If Dr. Warren regrets this decision, she doesn’t let it show. Williamson only reads the introduction of the book and doesn’t realize that the points that are mind-blowing to her are things everyone knows already.

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