How to Win a Debate: Democratic Candidates’ Style

If you’re Bernie…

Your signature moves:

  • The Eyeball Pop: Pull back your eyelids as far as they go, purse your lips and jut your face out. Best used when:
    • You’re emphasizing that Goldman Sachs would rather not pay you to give a speech about how much it sucks.
  • The YMCA Arm Raise: Lean your head forward and put your hands up high, keeping your elbows bent. Best used when:
    • You hate Wall Street and need a way to be emphatic about it after eight other debates where you said you hate Wall Street.
    • You’re trying to hide the fact that you sort of slouch. This is a classic way to make yourself seem bigger than you actually are, and is most effective in the presence of mountain lions or permanently outraged college students.
  • The Sarcastic Laugh: Self-explanatory. Use when:
    • Your opponent accuses you of supporting the NRA. Revert to Eyeball Pop when she tells you it’s not a laughing matter. Eyeball Pop is always the safer bet.

Your best catchphrases:

  • “At the end of the day”: Use as a transition to a quick end for your allotted speaking time. Under no circumstances follow this up with an actual event that happens at the end of a day, like a sunset or something. Those are bad metaphors to make in a Presidential campaign.
  • “Look”: Used to emphasize something. Bonus points if what you say next is…
  • “Wall Street is [corrupt, fraudulent, funding my opponent, ruining democracy, hurting penguins, infiltrating Congress, responsible for paying for college tuition for everyone because of 2008, etc.]”: Use whenever. Always gets a crowd goin’. Your given question doesn’t even have to be about finance or the economy — Wall Street is basically Satan, so everything can be blamed on it.
  • “Let me say something else”: Use when your time is running out and you’ve given a boring speech, so you need to say something to get the crowd to clap.
  • “We need a political revolution!”: Use around college students and Boomers who want to relive the ‘60s.

If you’re Hillary…

  • Your signature moves:
    • Podium Fistbump: Bring your fist down on the podium — not too harshly, not too softly. You’re outraged to the point of violence against podiums, yet cool and collected and suave. Use when:
      • You’re making a point that is supposed to Resonate With The People.
      • You see the crowd’s eyes begin to glaze over, because you’ve been talking way longer than you’re supposed to.
    • The Photoshoot Smile: You’ve practiced this one. Use when:
      • Your opponent is talking and you need to look like you either agree with him or politely disagree with him. Under no circumstances employ Eye Pop or Sarcastic Laugh, because that’s what your debate-prep team told you. Baring your teeth makes you look more powerful, anyway.
    • The Backslap: Only good against opponent when he’s out of striking distance. Use when:
      • You need to look sassy, but not, like, too sassy.
      • The Photoshoot Smile is failing to intimidate.
    • The Stone-face: Because after Lewinsky, Benghazi and the email scandal, you’re so over this shit. Use continuously until we fear-vote you in after Trump wins the Republican nomination.

Your signature catchphrases:

  • The Ode to Obama: Praise the president like he’s God, and like he didn’t beat you in 2008.
  • “We’ve got to be smart about [any topic, really]”: Use to emphasize that your ideas are intelligent and well thought-out, but that your opponent’s are impractical and unattainable (because they’re not yours).