Brent Budowsky: Dem debate showdown

Brent Budowsky: Dem debate showdown
© Greg Nash

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzEpstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse NYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Epstein charges put Trump Labor secretary back in spotlight 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 PutinKey Merkel ally set to test Trump amid tensions with Europe How global anti-corruption efforts are being corrupted Trump, racism and diversity in America MORE dictating to the Russian Politburo, declared that she will not budge on this.


Here is a proposal for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll 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 ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller 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 GabbardNew CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters MORE and R.T. Rybak, and Democratic mega-donor and environmentalist Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerSteyer calls on Pelosi to cancel six-week 'vacation' for Congress Moulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress 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 John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' 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