The contrast between the debates of the two parties is quite stark. The notion that both parties and their candidates are the “same” is wrongheaded. There are differences and they were on display last night on a whole range of issues. Undoubtedly, these differences will figure into the decision of the millions who vote in the primaries and general election next year. It’s pretty amazing how much the political conversation and climate have changed, compared to a few years ago when Washington was fixated on deficit reduction. Entitlement reform (read cuts) and tax breaks for “job creators” went unmentioned last night. Economic justice, even to a degree racial justice, money in politics, bank reform, women’s equality, military restraint, privacy rights, and climate change, were front and center. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders acquitted themselves quite well in the eyes of millions, if not the “bubble world” of some on the left. My guess is that a lot of working people, broadly and diversely defined, were generally happy with what they heard. Finally, when taking into account utterly backward positions of and divisions within the Republican Party and the tenor and substance of the debate yesterday, it is hard not to be cautiously optimistic about the outcome of next year’s election.