According to The Hill, the DNC is looking at having twenty candidates in their first presidential debate, so there will be a lottery to determine which ten go on the first night and which will be on the following night. This lottery is apparently intended to avoid the dilemma that the RNC faced in 2016 where there were essentially Varsity and JV debates based on polling numbers.
Clearly, the DNC thresholds were rather easy to achieve for the vast majority of the candidates in the field. 65,000 unique donors or 1% in three major polls might seem like a lot, but really, it was not very difficult since so many made it. Perhaps the thresholds were poorly designed in the first place. After all, let’s face the reality here. Most of these candidates have no shot at winning, and they never will. They are going to run out of money after Iowa and New Hampshire. Eventually money will talk, and the DNC is actually, according to the aforementioned report from The Hill, thinking about adding additional criteria for future debate qualification such as paid staff minimums. Again, that will make money talk. DNC chairman Tom Perez is quoted as saying, “People have to demonstrate progress and those that do will stay on the debate stage. Those that don’t, won’t.” That said, why does it make sense to give them such a low threshold to be on the stage for the first two?
Welcome to the Democratic Hunger Games. The thing is, the odds will never be in favor of certain candidates as much as they pretend it is a level playing field. Like the Hunger Games, we find certain candidates entering the arena with tremendous advantages. Some have money, name recognition and various degrees of intersectionality that will make them supposedly more appealing to the base. That’s the reality of the system, and there is not much that can be done about that.
That said, this kind of appeal to giving everyone an allegedly “fair shake” just seems to be a reaction to what happened in 2016 and the Democratic coronation of Hillary Clinton. After the chosen one failed to capture the White House, the DNC apparently made the decision that they were finally open to letting the process play out. Obviously, they cannot make everything, and should not make everything, completely equal. Like I said before, candidates come to the table with different levels of resources that will lead them toward the top of the pack. That said, it is rather obvious they remember the PR nightmare that was 2016, and they are determined to not let that happen again by avoiding the appearance of being a king or queen maker.
Let’s remember what happened in the Hunger Games though. The games appeared to be fair to the public, but they were not. There were interests on the outside influencing what happened inside the arena.
We all know the situation. The DNC has one objective: beat Donald Trump. They know that there are certain candidates that have no prayer of doing that. That said, they know that those same candidates, ultimately sharing the stage with the front runners and looking to grab the limelight, have a great deal of incentive to attack the top to try to climb the ladder. That is the one thing they DNC cannot have. Consequently, pay attention to the first two debates. Everything may seem equal now, everyone in the arena together fighting for the top, but, like the Hunger Games, don’t be surprised to see the rules start changing to protect the favorites if anyone gets out of line.