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Outrage Over DNC Refusal To Hold Climate Change Debate

Thomas Perez speaking with supporters of Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine at the Maryvale Community Center in Phoenix, Arizona. November 2016.
Thomas Perez speaking with supporters of Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine at the Maryvale Community Center in Phoenix, Arizona. November 2016. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“We need an honest debate on this, where people can actually show what they intend to do rather than offer bromides and bumper-sticker comments in 60 seconds.”

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is facing outrage from progressive activists over its refusal to devote any of its twelve sanctioned debates entirely to climate change. According to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the DNC is also banning any Democratic candidate who participates in non-DNC climate debate from all future official debates, a move Inslee describes as “totally unacceptable.”

Activists Confront DNC Chairman

Activists confronted DNC Chairman Tom Perez over the weekend about the DNC’s policy, which the Chair defended by arguing it was “not practical” to host a debate on a single issue.

“Once you have one single-issue debate, then every debate leads to become a single issue debate in order to address the concerns,” Perez told the activists. “And frankly, as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.”

Climate change received only five minutes of attention during the three 2016 general election debates, but a growing number of voters cite it as their greatest policy concern for 2020. Because climate change has the unique position of being an existential threat to humanity, and because there are significant differences between the climate plans of candidates like progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren and moderate Joe Biden, critics of the DNC’s decision say climate change deserves its own official debate.

“What’s actually unrealistic: the Democratic establishment saying we’ll stop climate change when they aren’t even willing to have a debate on it,” tweeted the youth-led Sunrise Movement, who has issued a petition against Perez’ decision with tens of thousands of signatures.

DNC Accused of ‘Shielding Candidates’ Without Detailed Climate Plan

“We need an honest debate on this, where people can actually show what they intend to do rather than offer bromides and bumper-sticker comments in 60 seconds,” Inslee told Rolling Stone in an interview. The 2020 hopeful, who has built his entire campaign around his ambitious climate policy, said the DNC is “shielding candidates” who haven’t developed a detailed climate plan.

Beyond activist groups, 2020 candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kristen Gillibrand and Beto O’Rourke support the climate-specific debate, and 53 of the DNC’s voting members have sent chairman Perez a draft resolution urging him to change his decision.

“The longer I think about @DNC insisting no-one hold a climate debate, the sillier it seems,” Bill McKibben, an influential environmental activist, tweeted on Sunday. “We’ve literally never talked about this issue in a presidential debate, and we literally have to deal with it immediately. I don’t understand why we shouldn’t devote a night to it.”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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1 Comment

  1. LikelyYou.com September 4, 2019

    U.S. Youth Climate Strike, whose petition calling on the DNC to host a climate debate has garnered over 53,000 signatures, vowed to fight back against the committee s refusal to give the planetary crisis the national spotlight it deserves.

    Reply

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