An existential threat to our species and arguably the biggest issue of the 21st century is not good enough for the Democratic Party to hold a specific debate on.
That’s the message that the campaign of Jay Inslee put out last night, and was further reinforced by Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez on Twitter:
The @DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area – we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) June 6, 2019
But apparently that’s not all that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has said. According to a statement by Jay Inslee, the machine that runs the Democratic Party has also told him that if he takes part in any other climate debate, he won’t be welcome at any of their debates. Per the Inslee statement:
…they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates
This move was denounced by other leading Democrats, with fellow presidential contender Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Al Gore and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) all condemning the move, although many – including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), who has been outspoken about the importance of addressing climate change, have not yet commented.
Gov. Inslee is exactly right. Climate change is the biggest challenge we face. Every candidate running for president should have a serious set of policies to address it, and should be eager to defend those proposals in a debate. https://t.co/6uprXIJKa2
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 6, 2019
Biden climate plan plagiarism scandal
One voice missing from those criticizing the DNC’s decision is Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden. This also comes after strong evidence suggesting that the Biden campaign plagiarized large parts of its recently released climate plan have become public. This includes allegations that the campaign copied sections whole-hog from a 2017 letter sent by the Blue Green Alliance and Carbon Capture Coalition:
The paragraph in Joe Biden’s climate plan about carbon capture and sequestration includes language that is remarkably similar to items published previously by the Blue Green Alliance and the Carbon Capture Coalition.
— Josh Nelson (@josh_nelson) June 4, 2019
On Twitter, UC Santa Barbara Political Science Professor Leah Stokes slammed the Biden plan when it was released, noting that “as a professor, I’ve seen plagiarism before”:
I have no problem with campaigns borrowing ideas with one another. But there needs to be substance and commitment behind those plans.
Given Joe Biden’s mixed record on climate and this scandal, addressing climate change is clearly not his strong card. And by declining to hold a debate on this issue, DNC opens itself up to allegations that it is throwing its weight behind the establishment candidate.
This would not be the first time such allegations have been made, and this follows the resignation of former party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2016 following the release of emails that suggested that she and other members of the DNC staff had shown favor to the establishment candidate.
The DNC’s move could also further alienate younger voters, who are going to experience more of the impacts of climate change and who are more concerned about it as an issue.
But this denial may end up working in favor of the Inslee campaign, which turned the denial into a request for the contact information of supporters within hours, followed by a fundraising appeal.