Democrats' Debate Schedule Announced


The Democratic National Committee has announced that the Democratic presidential candidates will participate in six debates, starting October 13th in Nevada:
A total of six debates are scheduled, with six different sponsors: Oct. 13 in Nevada (hosted by CNN); Nov. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa (CBS/KCCI and The Des Moines Register); Dec. 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire (ABC/WMUR); Jan. 17 in Charleston, South Carolina (NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute); and two scheduled for either February or March in Miami, Florida, and Wisconsin, hosted by Univision/The Washington Post and PBS, respectively. The DNC said it would release additional details about debate dates, locations and partnerships soon.

...The DNC said on Thursday that to qualify for a debate, candidates must get at least 1 percent in three credible national polls within the six weeks before the debate — a threshold that could make Webb, Chafee, and O'Malley's camps nervous.
Only four of the debates will happen before the ALL-IMPORTANT IOWA CAUCUS, so already the complaints have begun:
Sanders sent a letter to [DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz] in June asking for more events, sooner — including some that involve Republicans — and O'Malley railed against the process while campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday.

"To those in Washington who think they can limit the number of debates that we're going to have before the Iowa caucuses, can circle the wagons and close off debates: I think they're going to have another thing coming when they talk to the people of Iowa," the Marylander said in Cedar Rapids, telling The Hill newspaper that he had personally complained to Wasserman Schultz last week.

O'Malley's campaign went further on Thursday morning, when chief strategist Bill Hyers circulated a statement accusing the DNC of making the process "less democratic" by limiting the number of debates. The campaign then sent out a fundraising email to its supporters carrying a similar message within minutes.

A few hours later, Sanders chimed in: "I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the debate schedule announced by the Democratic National Committee," he said. "At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it's imperative that we have as many debates as possible — certainly more than six."
Honestly, I think six debates is more than enough, provided that the topics are varied enough that the candidates aren't obliged to repeat the same talking points.

And if O'Malley and Sanders are really concerned about the primary process being more democratic and engaging more people in the political process, then they'd do better to direct their energy at criticizing the fixed primary schedule that allows the same disproportionately white and rural states to have an outsized influence on the primary process every damn election.

It's long past time that we did away with the fixed primary schedule and started a rotating primary that allowed other parts of the country, and other demographic groups, to have a bigger influence on who the Democratic nominee is.

People complained mightily about the protracted 2008 primary, in which Obama and Clinton fought it out until the bitter end, but people all over the country were super engaged because millions and millions of us who'd never had an opportunity to cast a meaningful vote in a primary finally did, often for the first time in our lives.

Anyway. I'd be more impressed if Sanders and O'Malley would raise their concerns about this tradition, and just endeavor to make the six debates they have worth watching for those of us who intend (or are obliged) to watch all six of them.

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