By Andy Kroll
Rolling Stone (6/10/19)
WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee is facing a growing backlash in the wake of its refusal to host a 2020 presidential debate focused solely on solving the climate crisis.
Last week, the DNC not only dismissed the idea of hosting a debate on the existential threat of our time but vowed to bar any 2020 candidate who participates in a non-DNC climate debate from participating in future official debates, according to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who was the 2020 Democratic candidate to call for a climate-only debate. Inslee called the DNC’s decision “extremely disappointing” and the blacklist “totally unacceptable.”
Confronted by party activists in Florida over the weekend, DNC Chair Tom Perez defended the committee’s decision by saying that it was “not practical” to hold a debate on a “single issue” like climate change. He said the candidates knew the rules going in at the start of the campaign, which included not devoting any of the DNC’s 12 sanctioned debates to a single topic.
“What’s impractical is trying to plant your crops under 8 feet of water in Iowa or trying to rebuild your home after it’s burned to the ground in Paradise, California,” — Gov. JayInslee
“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.”
But Perez’s justifications have only inflamed an increasingly agitated group of liberal activists, environmental leaders and several 2020 candidates who say Perez is badly misguided.
Only 5 minute in 2016 debates
Climate change and other environmental issues received a pathetic five minutes of discussion in the three 2016 general-election debates and pressure has been building since the start of the 2020 race to elevate the issue, especially as more and more voters (of all parties) rank climate change as an issue of great importance to them.
Before Perez’s latest comments, 53 of the DNC’s voting members — a group that includes nine state party chairpersons — sent the chairman a draft resolution to force the DNC to host a climate-specific presidential debate. And more than a half-dozen 2020 contenders (and counting) have backed the idea …