The fall debates will be the first test -- or opportunity
-- for political revolution
Now that it's almost inevitable Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, the talk is turning to what will come out of Bernie Sanders' campaign after the Democratic National Convention.
Enthusiasm is growing for a post-Sanders movement. Khwaja Khusro Tariq writes "if one accepts that Hillary is the most likely Democratic nominee for president does that mean we pack it up and go home? No. We signed up for a political revolution, not just this campaign."
Even Noam Chomsky is optimistic: Mr. Sanders has "mobilized a large number of young people who are saying, 'Look, we're not going to consent anymore.' If that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force that could change the country--maybe not for this election, but in the longer term."
Or will they look the other way while ideas they claim to support are silenced and only the Democratic and Republican nominees are allowed to participate?
The Green nominee will argue for many of the same things that Mr. Sanders has advocated, from "Medicare for All" to dismantling the power of the too-big-to-fail banks. The Green will go further than Mr. Sanders, calling for an end to endless war, a halt to deployment of civilian-killing drones, withholding of support for Israel's brutal suppression of Palestinian rights, and drastic cuts in military spending.
It's essential that the ideas behind the political revolution remain in front of the public after the conventions.
The debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which is controlled by the two establishment parties and their corporate underwriters. The CPD took over the presidential debates from the League of Women Voters in 1988 deliberately to bar independent and alternative-party candidates and to ensure a format that poses few challenges to the D and R nominees and doesn't offend the sponsors. (See George Farah's book "No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates").
If limited to Clinton vs. Trump, the debates can pretend that the political revolution doesn't exist and the Sanders campaign never happened.
Will the post-nomination Sanders movement decide that helping Ms. Clinton defeat the dreaded Donald should take precedent over an airing of the demand for "Medicare for All" and other objectives?
No movement can be taken seriously if it tolerates the censorship of its own agenda in the most widely watched forums of the election year.
Fair and democratic debates would admit any candidate whose name is on the ballot line in enough states to win. In 2012, the Green Party's Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson should have qualified. In 2016, two legal actions filed against the CPD, the Level the Playing Field and Our America Initiative law suits, may bring inclusive debates closer to reality.
The challenge I pose here raises a broader question: Will the political revolution be independent or a subsidiary of the Democratic Party?