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Resolution for 2016: Let's Have Lots More Presidential Debates

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Reprinted from The Nation

Robert Reich is petitioning the DNC to open up the process. Let's make this the start of a fight for more debates in the primary season and this fall.


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The last Democratic presidential debate of 2015 was held on the Saturday night before Christmas. Viewership was roughly one-quarter that of the first Republican debate and dramatically lower than all of the Republican debates.

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In other words, the Democrats lost the competition for viewers -- and for the framing of issues and ideas for the 2016 presidential competition.

That's bad for the Democratic Party and its candidates. It's also bad for a body politic that requires more than the junk-food diet offered up by Donald Trump and most of his fellow contenders for the Republican presidential nod.

So former secretary of labor Robert Reich, one of the most respected independent progressive figures within the Democratic orbit, has decided to do something about the problem.

Working with the activist group Democracy for America, Reich is circulating a petition that reads:

"Saturday night's [December 19] Democratic presidential primary debate was striking. It was all about substance and logic -- in sharp contrast to Republican debates that have been all name-calling and posturing.

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"It was the kind of debate that could have really gotten voters excited about the Democratic Party. But because of when it was scheduled, almost nobody saw it.

"And the bad scheduling looks like it is just going to keep getting worse. The next Democratic debate will be Sunday, January 17 -- on a three-day holiday weekend, scheduled at the same time as a major NFL playoff game.

"Tell [Democratic National Committee chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC to schedule additional debates."

More than 100,000 Americans have signed the petition -- which echoes calls from former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for more debates -- and the number is rising rapidly.

Reich is making an important point as a prominent progressive who served as a member of former president Bill Clinton's cabinet and who has emerged as a hero of activists aligned with what is frequently referred to as "the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party."

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