DNC should increase number of debates and let Sanders (and others) battle Clinton
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It's no secret that the current Democratic debate schedule is geared toward protecting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIdentity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination O'Rourke’s strategy: Show Americans the real Beto Conservatives pound BuzzFeed, media over Cohen report MORE's lead in the polls, or perhaps even preventing further discussion about ongoing scandal. The problem, however, is that Clinton's lead is dwindling and the surge exhibited by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersIdentity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination 2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Bill Maher defends Bernie Sanders campaign over sexual harassment allegations MORE (I-Vt.) is genuine. In terms of trajectory and momentum, the Sanders campaign is poised to duplicate recent success in Iowa and New Hampshire throughout the country. There's also an FBI investigation pertaining to Clinton's emails and server, the campaigns of former Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and their supporters throughout the nation, and the fact that Republicans have 12 debates. In contrast, Democrats have half as many debates scheduled, which makes little sense when taking into account the fact that most voters don't know enough about Sanders, O'Malley or Webb.

Therefore, Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOcasio-Cortez speaks about 'justice' at Women's March Women's March expecting smaller crowds amid controversy over alleged anti-Semitism Women’s March official says group has ‘ignited political imagination of women’ MORE (Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), should address the growing discontent among the most passionate base of Democratic supporters regarding the current debate schedule. A recent article in The Hill, "Activists turn up heat on DNC for more debates," highlights exactly why Wasserman Schultz and the DNC leadership should pay attention to growing frustration:

Grassroots activists are putting the screws to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in hopes of getting the organization to change its plans for the party's 2016 presidential debates.

The #AllowDebate movement is hoping recent criticism from White House hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will force the DNC to address concerns they have with the events’ size, scope and rules. ...

Sanders echoed O'Malley’s complaints after his own address in Minneapolis on Friday.

"I do," the Vermont lawmaker replied when asked whether he agrees that the process is "rigged."

#AllowDebate founder Ben Doernberg told The Hill on Friday that his group is counting on such mounting frustration to force the DNC into changing course.

The most bizarre aspect of Wasserman Schultz's decision to limit debates is that Democrats have a great deal to talk about in 2016. Everything from Clinton's unwillingness to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline to her email scandal and the surge witnessed by Sanders should be addressed at these debates. O'Malley and Webb should also have their opportunities to discuss the economy, Iraq and other contentious topics. Most importantly, Americans should be able to see the differences between Clinton and Sanders, not simply assume that Clinton's email controversy is fabricated or that Democrats don’t want an alternative to another Clinton.

Furthermore, the feud between Wasserman Schultz and progressives around the nation is making national headlines. A Washington Post article, "Watching Debbie Wasserman Schultz grovel is painful," addresses the predicament experienced by Democrats and Wasserman:

This is Washington machine politics at its best — or maybe its worst. In a year when others are struggling to distance themselves from Washington and politics as usual, Team Clinton is doing what they do best and engaging in blatant, self-serving manipulation. Rep. Wasserman Schultz's desire to hang onto some semblance of power is well-known, and it's almost embarrassing. She was mostly disowned by the Obama White House a long time ago. She was never a Clinton favorite either, but her desperation to continue her vanity project as DNC chair has given the Clinton Empire the opening to manipulate her by having fewer debates.

So, it’s obvious to everyone that Clinton benefits from limited debate. It's also common knowledge that more debates will give Sanders and other challengers greater name recognition, thus cutting Clinton's lead in the polls even further.

Democrats deserve the opportunity to honestly evaluate Clinton and compare her answers to tough questions with the responses of her challengers. The millions of Sanders supporters around the country deserve a chance to see their candidate battle Clinton on a national stage, so that Americans can see the vast differences between both Democrats.

The secret is out and everyone knows why the DNC chose to have a limited debate schedule. Now, Wasserman Schultz can do the right thing and allow further debates, or she can cater to Clinton. The story of the 2016 presidential election is still being written and Wasserman Schultz and the DNC can rectify a mistake they made months ago by limiting debate. If they address this growing issue before it becomes a real obstacle to voters, Americans will have a genuine opportunity to decide on the best Democratic candidate. If Wasserman and the DNC continue politics as usual, then Democrats will allow the GOP to outshine them in terms of debate, choice and fairness pertaining to the process of choosing a nominee.

Goodman is an author and a journalist.