Brent Budowsky: Dem debate showdown

Brent Budowsky: Dem debate showdown
© Greg Nash

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles Florida Democrat says vaccines, masks are key to small-business recovery DNC members grow frustrated over increasing White House influence MORE has issued an edict that sells short the soul of the party of the people.

There will only be six presidential debates for Democrats in the 2016 cycle, and any candidate who participates in any others will be banned from the DNC debates. As recently as Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz, sounding like Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRepublican lawmakers warn against more military coordination with Russia NATO expansion in Ukraine a 'red line' for Putin, Kremlin says Milley calls for expanded communication between US, Russian militaries MORE dictating to the Russian Politburo, declared that she will not budge on this.


Here is a proposal for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and other Democratic candidates for the nation’s highest office: You should join together to publicly state that if any respected organization wishes to hold additional debates, you will participate in defiance of the Putin-like commands from Washington.

What will happen if this showdown offer is extended is that media organizations and others will come forward with new debate proposals. Other Democratic candidates will accept. Wasserman Schultz will ban those candidates from the DNC debates. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE will be forced to choose between being the only candidate on stage in the DNC-sanctioned debates, which would make her and the DNC look ridiculous, or participating in the rogue debates, which she would almost certainly do.

There is a growing revolt among Democrats who believe that more debates, not fewer, serve the interests of the party. This revolt is being led by DNC Vice Chairmen Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardProgressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition YouTube rival Rumble strikes deals with Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald MORE and R.T. Rybak, and Democratic mega-donor and environmentalist Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.) also recently joined the chorus of Democrats calling for more debates.

The growing revolt from many liberals and Democrats reflects far larger and more profound issues for the nation and the Democratic Party.

There is a powerful national revolt, from the left and the right, against the crony insiderism of Washington-based politics and about whether the left or right will win the battle of ideas to define the future of populism.

There is an overpowering feeling from grassroots Democrats outside Washington that Democrats inside Washington — and Clinton is identified as one — have created a party of consultants rather than conscience, a party of revolving door insiders who want to defend the status quo rather the men and women who yearn to change America through authentic and dramatic reforms.

The debate about debates is really about whether Democrats are a party of ideas and principles who welcome debates and the enthusiasm they generate, or a party of insiders who want to rig the rules and fix the game in favor of insider candidates by stifling the voices of true progressivism, reform and change.

This great Democratic debate and the progressive revolt that has fueled the candidacy of Sanders and energized grassroots support on his behalf should be a gift to Democrats, no matter who is nominated, if this passion and sincerity is welcomed and embraced and not feared, silenced or held in contempt by party insiders.

Clinton supporters should join the revolt in favor of more debates and not fear it.

Clinton’s army of consultants, staffers and courtiers may not understand this, but she would benefit from more debates. Progressives are not as stupid as these insiders believe. Clinton is not as weak as certain advisers think when they feed her with poll-tested and focus-grouped platitudes that neuter her voice while they maneuver to shield her from more debates.

The problems with the Clinton campaign — which are serious and real — are not related to the latest sexist and misogynist charge by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE that her voice is shrill. They are caused by her “friends” who would dilute her voice through fewer debates and leave her like a prize fighter who looks over-coached and out of shape as she enters the ring for the championship bout.

The popular revolt should succeed. More debates would benefit all Democrats.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sens. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at