The second Republican debate this week was certainly a spectacle to behold (hold for specific examples from the debate). The debate helped draw some contrasts between the candidates, but from my perspective it’s clear the GOP candidates are all singing off the same old tired song sheet that benefits the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of the middle class and working families. Nonetheless, these debates are healthy for the Republican Party, for voters, and for our nation. The same can be said for our series of Democratic debates which begin next month in Nevada. In fact I believe that nine Republican debates for 17 candidates, and six debates for five candidates on…
The second Republican debate this week was certainly a spectacle to behold (hold for specific examples from the debate).
The debate helped draw some contrasts between the candidates, but from my perspective it’s clear the GOP candidates are all singing off the same old tired song sheet that benefits the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of the middle class and working families.
Nonetheless, these debates are healthy for the Republican Party, for voters, and for our nation. The same can be said for our series of Democratic debates which begin next month in Nevada.
In fact I believe that nine Republican debates for 17 candidates, and six debates for five candidates on our side, is ample opportunity for the American people to hear from all the candidates as they debate the policies and ideas of the day.
Of course it’s not the only way voters can or will hear from our candidates about their ideas to strengthen the middle class and move our nation forward. Forums, round tables, major speeches, backyard barbecues, and living room meet-and-greets make up just some of the many ways candidates will connect directly with voters in the coming months.
As a candidate for multiple offices in Philadelphia over the last two decades, I’ve pursued every opportunity available to me to get my message out and to hear directly from the good people of the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. I’ve never hung my hat on one medium of communication as the end all, be all of campaigning.
That’s why I’m frankly surprised so much has been said about the supposedly insufficient or strict debate process established by the Democratic National Committee, of which I am a proud member.
Six sanctioned debates was the precedent established in both the 2004 and 2008 Democratic primaries. I believe this schedule and the exclusivity provision lend themselves to robust participation from all our candidates while they also pursue those other ways to engage voters. Indeed all five candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president have agreed to participate in our debates.
DNC Convention CEO Leah Daughtry recently attested to why it’s important for the Party to set up certain debate rules, as she served as DNC chief of staff in both the 2004 and 2008 cycles. The Party ended up being at a critical disadvantage eight years ago when 20-something debates occurred, largely because “the schedule was ridiculous, the networks were unhappy, and the candidates were stretched too thin trying to criss- cross the country to get to all the non-DNC debates,” Rev. Daughtry recently said.
Some members of our party have sounded off about the need for more debates, however, and questioned the process by which we arrived here. Some have chosen to conduct themselves professionally to express their point of view, and others have resorted to the rhetoric of playground bullies.
I’ve been particularly disturbed by the small but personal criticisms that have been hurled at our DNC Chairwoman. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Member of Congress and a mother to young kids, is doing yeomen’s work running a party, serving as a national spokesperson and fundraiser, managing a primary nomination, and preparing for a general election. She’s laying the groundwork to ensure that the Democratic nominee who leaves Philadelphia next July becomes the 45th President of the United States, and I am her strategic partner in this most consequential of endeavors.
I’m frankly left scratching my head. Why are we debating debates? There’s too much at stake to be so focused on Beltway intrigue and process. At the end of the day this is not what voters care about. They care about hearing from our candidates about how they’ll strengthen access to the cornerstones of a middle class life: health care, education, homeownership, and retirement security.
It’s time for a reality check fellow Democrats. Let’s end this pointless complaining and channel our energies into every facet of what it takes to win: registering people to vote, pushing out our message, raising money, and organizing and coordinating our efforts within this great big tent we call the Democratic Party. We’re the party of inclusion, empowerment, and opportunity, and the majority of voters know that it is we Democrats who have their backs with the policies and values that matter.
So as summer gives way to fall and voters become increasingly focused on the election just over one year from now, we owe it to them to put our best foot and best Party forward as we bring it home for Democrats up and down the ballot in 2016.
Michael A. Nutter is the mayor of Philadelphia and a member of the Democratic National Committee.
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