“We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party!” Martin O’Malley declared yesterday at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting, protesting the small number of debates before the primaries begin in early 2016. Four debates is not enough, O’Malley said, and accused the DNC of attempting to derail democracy by shutting down dissent. Amusingly, the next speaker to the podium was none other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz — the chair of the DNC.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley thinks the Democratic Party’s decision to limit the number of primary debates is tantamount to rigging the nomination process.
“Four debates and only four debates — we are told, not asked — before voters in our earliest states make their decision,” the presidential candidate said at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Summer Meeting on Friday.
“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” he added. “One debate in Iowa. That’s it. One debate in New Hampshire. That’s all we can afford.”
Of course, it’s easy for O’Malley to claim that the process is rigged, because …. well, it is, to some extent. Democrats don’t want a primary battle; they want Republicans to have a primary battle while they have a coronation. The problem with that strategy is the Queen herself. Hillary Clinton has all of the royal attitude, but precious little of the necessary candidate aptitude. And voters are starting to notice.
That doesn’t change the fact that O’Malley barely registers in polls, even among Democrats. In our own poll published yesterday, O’Malley got 2 respondents in a sample of 652 Democrats. Not two percent — two respondents. What about a more competitive candidate? It turns out Bernie Sanders thinks the DNC has rigged the process, too (via Instapundit):
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) believes the Democratic Party is using its limited primary debate schedule to rig the nomination process.
“I do,” Sanders reportedly responded when asked Friday whether he agrees with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s assertion that the debate system is “rigged.” …
“At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it’s imperative that we have as many debates as possible,” Sanders said in a statement earlier this month. “I look forward to working with the DNC to see if we can significantly expand the proposed debate schedule.”
“Further, I also think it is important for us to debate not only in the early states but also in many states which currently do not have much Democratic presidential campaign activity,” Sanders wrote in a letter to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in June.
People point to the angry populism in the GOP base, but Democrats have the same problem. In fact, it may well be worse for them, given the circumstances. They are clearly trying to shield their frontrunner from having to answer questions in front of the media, which has been Hillary’s Achilles heel, and limiting the number of debates does that as well as limiting the opportunities for challengers to attract support. If the DNC continues to put its thumb on the scales so obviously, the anti-establishment momentum within their base will fracture the party, especially in service of protecting a mediocrity like Hillary Clinton.
That will make for a lot of awkward moments within the Democratic coalition. This chilly exchange is just the start.