In the first televised debates, the 20 Democratic presidential candidates consistently left the impression that they would do the job better than Donald Trump.

Well, perhaps not necessarily Marianne Williamson. The author of esoteric self-help books threatened Donald Trump with the power of love, and as newly elected president, she would explain to New Zealand’s prime minister that her country is not the best place for children. But if one ignores the “spiritual teacher,” the 20 Democratic presidential candidates consistently left the impression that they would do the job better than Trump.

That’s the good news. There are still people in the U.S. who are arguing in an earnest and civilized manner about responsible politics, and at least 15 million are watching. In direct verbal exchange, positions are adjusted and weaknesses become apparent. That is the opportunity for the months-long internal selection process of the Democrats.

The risk is just as obvious. Self-fixated, the party could become more radicalized and lose sight of its main goal: the removal of Trump. Joe Biden has taken on this very task. His missteps do not mean the ax for the favorite. But it is a warning shot: the battle for the White House cannot be won solely on the laurels of the past.