The All Comers Debate

Many supporters of Bernie Sanders have complained and expressed incredulity or even conspiracy theories about the lack of mainstream press coverage of Sanders’ campaign. To be fair, he does have more supporters than Donald Trump, who gets the bulk of media coverage on the presidential race so far. But I don’t think complaining is an effective tactic; on the contrary, it has real potential to make Sanders supporters look whiny or petulant. So this is one of a few ideas I’ve come up with as an alternative way to attract media attention.

Here’s another idea to get press coverage that isn’t complaining. Bernie should offer to debate presidential candidates from all parties or no party. The number of debaters would have to be limited (10?), but I don’t think it’s ever been done in the primary season. Americans increasingly hate political parties and don’t belong to them. Independents outnumber Democrats. And Republicans. If you’ve watched “minor party” debates in the past, you know that they often raise issues the major parties totally ignore, but which Americans care about. (Like Civil liberties in 2012) We could see candidates from different parties debate each other directly, instead of waiting for each party to nominate 1 person and not see them spar until September. Kind of like interleague play in baseball. The All Comers debate would allow any candidate who wants to come, be they Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, The Rent Is Too Damn High… Limit the number of participants based on poll numbers, or for something different and arguably more democratic, by number of donors. Maybe Hillary is afraid of more debates, but Bernie isn’t! 

This would get lots of attention because it’s new and different. It would also get more viewers because it would include Democrats AND Republicans AND supporters of other parties at the same time. And if the idea comes from Bernie, he gets the credit for proposing it. 

Establishment people in both major parties will hate this. But times change, and rules and norms must adapt to the times. Fifty years ago, primaries and caucuses hardly mattered. Nominations were really decided by a few powerful people–party bosses (now “superdelegates”). By 1968, it was clear that system didn’t work anymore, so they changed it. Well, it’s been 48 years since then, and the country doesn’t look like Mad Men anymore. Let’s try something new designed for the 21st century.


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