Time for DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to make some changes.
The controversy over the Democratic presidential debate schedule shows no signs of dying down—and it shouldn't. Currently, the Democratic National Committee has planned six debates with rules barring any candidate who participates in other debates not sanctioned by the DNC. Both of those aspects of the debate schedule—the number and the exclusivity rule—are being loudly challenged,
particularly but not only
by former Maryland governor and long-shot candidate Martin O'Malley.
Two other aspects of the DNC debate schedule are also drawing attention and protest: when they fall in the primary calendar, and when they fall in people's lives. On the former point, Simon Rosenberg notes a compressed primary schedule that may have the nominee decided by mid-March, given which it's relevant that:
As of today, the Republicans have ten debates scheduled before mid-March, while the Democrats have four. Of those debates, the GOP has six debates scheduled in the ten weeks closest to the actual voting, while the Democrats have just one.
And check out some of these dates
: Saturday, November 14. Saturday, really? Who exactly is the DNC expecting to watch a Saturday night debate? But it gets better! Saturday, December 19. Yes, the Saturday six days before Christmas. Hmm ... I could attend a holiday party with my friends and loved ones, do some last-minute shopping, or watch a presidential debate. Why not just schedule it on Christmas Eve, FFS? But let's keep going through this debate schedule: January 17. That's the Sunday night of Martin Luther King Day weekend. This is absurd.
Six debates seems like a fine number to me, and Martin O'Malley's call for an additional six is the overkill of a candidate who doesn't have much other chance to get attention. In 2007 and early 2008, the constant debating on the Democratic side did not add much to the race. And while Republicans have 12 debates scheduled this cycle, they also have 16 candidates. Six debates for five (to be generous) Democratic candidates would be fine—if they weren't scheduled at times that said loud and clear, "fuck you, we don't want you watching this." And the exclusivity rule is stupid. If Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders want to debate each other, they should be allowed to do so.
Hillary Clinton has said she's open to additional debates, but much-criticized DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is standing firm. The number of debates isn't the real issue here, though. The ban on non-DNC debates and the weekend and holiday debates are.
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