Credo Action

Tell the Democratic National Committee: Let the Candidates debate!

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Tell the Democratic National Committee

“Don’t restrict Democratic candidates’ primary debates. A meaningful primary requires a serious discussion of issues among the candidates themselves. Either add more debates starting this summer, or don’t bar candidates from participating in additional forums.”

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    Tell the Democratic National Committee: Let the Candidates debate!

    Informed debate is at the heart of our democracy – but the Democratic National Committee appears to be going to great lengths to severely limit debate between the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates.

    In 2008, the Democratic candidates debated 26 times during the primary. This year, the Democratic party has announced only six debates, and has gone even further, introducing an exclusivity clause which disqualifies from the debates any candidate that participates in additional, unsanctioned candidate forums.1

    In a campaign environment dominated by unlimited spending on 30-second television ads and media coverage that obsesses over the “horse-race,” the debates are one of the few opportunities to hear a conversation about serious issues between the candidates on a major stage.

    Tell the Democratic National Committee: Let the candidates debate!

    In 2008, Democratic primary debates started in April. But while the 2016 Presidential campaign is already well underway, the schedule released by the DNC doesn’t hold the first debate until this fall, meaning it could be another five months until voters have a chance to hear directly from the candidates.

    The political media has shown repeatedly that it is far more interested in manufacturing political scandals or deeming who is and is not “viable” than carrying on a serious conversation about the candidates’ positions on the vital challenges we face as a nation.

    Voters decide who will be the nominee. Not the media, not the Democratic National Committee,3 and hopefully not whichever billionaire is writing the biggest SuperPAC checks. But those voters need to actually hear from the candidates.

    Unlike 30-second television ads, debates are a vehicle to spur voter’s political engagement, which in terms encourages more voter participation and voting. Heading into the general election, educating and energizing voters should be the primary goal of the Democratic Party, not restricting important conversations between candidates.3

    Tell the Democratic National Committee: Let the candidates debate!

    1. Democrats Take Fire for Exclusivity Clause in Official Debates, Time Magazine, 5/5/15
    2. More Debates Are Good for Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee—and Hillary Clinton, The Nation, 6/2/15
    3. Democrats’ “protect Hillary” plan: How the DNC’s thin debate schedule hands Clinton the advantage, Salon, 5/6/15