In this June 27, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speak during the Democratic primary debate in Miami. Credit: Wilfredo Lee | AP

Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders told us Sunday night how they would deal with the coronavirus and then how they would wreck America, although, to be fair, Biden was more cautious on that issue than Sanders. Biden has picked up some tips from him, as in now favoring free college tuition, for instance, but has not yet reached a vision that could nearly double the size of government and taxes.

Along those lines, Sanders seemed furiously intent in their debate in showing why he is not qualified to become the Democratic nominee through primaries now reduced from a herd of politicos to a duet lacking harmony. At one point, he slammed Biden for fostering legislation informing recipients of student loans that they could not claim bankruptcy to rid themselves of their debt. Sanders said Biden was for the legislation and Biden explained it was absolutely sure of passing and his tactic was simply to make it less harmful.

Oh, no, that’s awful, said Sanders. Real leaders, he told his opponent, take unpopular positions and stick to them, thereby revealing he has absolutely no idea how a democratic republic works. One side deals with the other side, sometimes reaching compromises more in tune with the public at large and less likely to be distorted by way of ideology. Interestingly, former Vice President Biden, in his Senate years, was highly effective, negotiating and shaking hands afterwards while Sanders has been mostly just a loudmouth.

That’s how he conducted himself in the debate as in telling us President Trump is a “sexist, racist, homophobe,” in castigating fossil fuel companies for being criminal by virtue of being fossil fuel companies and saying we’ve got to get rid of fracking.

He said the procedure contaminates water, and yes, there can be accidents in almost any form of drilling that do that and they can be avoided. The fact is that the horizontal fracturing of rocks to enable natural gas transmission has given us at least a hundred years’ worth of supplies, replacing vast amounts of coal in producing electricity. Natural gas has just slight squirts of carbon dioxide and our use of it has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than what’s been accomplished by any other country out there.

Fracking has also spurted out something like 1.7 million jobs and enough shale oil to give the economy an affectionate hug. Ah, but Sanders hates rotten, old capitalism that has lifted hundreds of millions from the same straits that Sanders-style socialism promotes, equality of misery.

The peculiarity is that he has seen what no one else has seen, that half the people in the country are struggling to put food on the table. He said as much in the debate even though government data assembled by the Heritage Foundation shows average poor families, about 12 percent of the population, do not go hungry and have TV sets, smartphones, computers, air conditioning, central heat, at least two cars and live in decent houses and apartments.

Of course, Sanders has adhered to a hippie-style philosophy for a good part of his 78 years, and won’t let go of that any more than he will let go of his medical records following a heart attack. Biden, at 77, has been seen as just maybe in cognitive decline but handled himself with perky intellect in the debate except for such leftward enthusiasms as ending deportation of any illegal immigrants who are not felons, which is to say, come one, come all.

For a surprise, Biden let us know that as president he would give us a black woman for the Supreme Court and a woman as vice president, which is terrific if these two people are the ones best qualified for the positions. Sanders said he might give us a woman as vice president but here is what he would surely try: To give us supposedly free programs costing somewhere between $50 trillion and $100 trillion over a decade, blessing the continent environmentally as people flee.

Jay Ambrose is an OpEd columnist for Tribune News Service.