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January 12, 2016

DNC shamelessly uses 'nothing-to-see-here-folks' approach to debates

It's starting to feel like theories about Dems leadership being in the bag for Hillary Clinton aren't paranoid delusions

In falling asleep early Monday night, I missed two major events that – through the miracle of television – drew a lot of attention, if social media is an accurate barometer of such things.

The first was a rollicking national college football championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers. (The Tide won 45-40 in a top-notch contest, from what I reckon after watching the highlights.)

The second was Lace and Olivia having some sort of Epic! Showdown! on "The Bachelor," aka diversionary trainwreck television at its finest.

Like most Americans on the right side of the digital divide, I knew these events were coming and knew what happened after a couple seconds of scrolling on my smartphone Tuesday morning.

Wanna know what I – a writer who pays reasonably close attention to political events – didn’t know was happening until minutes before it started? The Iowa Brown & Black Forum, sponsored by Fusion, a television network located in the hinterlands of my cable package.

I’m running on the assumption that the event – billed as a chance to “find out where the candidates stand on issues that matter most to America’s growing multicultural population" – aired live Monday night but really don’t know, on account of the lack of notification hype preceding it.

Luckily, it was available on Fusion’s YouTube page when I checked. I’ve included it here as a public service.

Please don’t read this as taking a shot at Fusion, for that is not what this is meant to be. Rather, it served as a stark reminder of how pitifully the Democratic National Committee – which will throw a huge party here in Philly this summer – has gone about this primary season so far.

Full disclosure: I’m a registered Democrat (as commenters have already latched onto in previous dispatches), and it wouldn’t take a forensic Internet investigator to dredge up some anti-Hillary sentiments from my Philadelphia City Paper days.

To round it out, I’ll also include the facts that Killer Mike’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders made an impact in my leanings, and I have no bad recollections of Martin O’Malley’s ability to lead after interviewing him about gun violence while he served as mayor of Baltimore.

If you asked me today who I'll vote for in the April 26 primary, I'd respond Sanders (for reasons I’ll surely get into over the next couple months). And if you asked me on April 25 who I'll vote for in the April 26 primary, I imagine you’d get the same response.

This isn’t about stubbornness or being fixed in my opinions. Not by a long shot. In fact, I think it’ll be difficult for the three Dems to effect tangible change in their numbers, outside of retail politicking and advertising.

That’s because I buy into the theory that the DNC and its chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, are firmly tucked into one of Hillary’s pantsuit pockets.

How else can you explain the fact that – while notification of GOP debates seems to get out with the proficiency of a Vegas-strip card slapper – two of the three Democratic debates held so far aired on low-ratings Saturday nights, with the fourth slated for this Sunday night?

Now, I’m no big-city national political-party boss, but if I was, I’d sure as heck try to get as many eyes and ears on my candidates, particularly at a time when national headlines have been usurped by the GOP’s lively circus-tent atmosphere.

With America’s political/societal/cultural leanings known for alternating like a pendulum, it’s folly to play hide-and-seek with your presidential-nominating process. This is especially true at a time in history when 140-character statements carry heretofore unimaginable weight.

People like me – read: Dems unlikely to vote for Clinton – need to be convinced early not to skip the presidential ballot line in November. It’s not nearly enough to think we’ll vote for anybody but Donald Trump. Because, who knows, maybe we will as a little bit of payback for feeling gamed.

Even if the theory that a Clinton nomination is an inevitability holds validity, it’s patently unfair to make Democrats conduct full-on investigations to learn about the differences between the candidates available to them during the primary. We are a busy people; the responsibility of getting us to connect with your messaging lies with you.

It is the DNC’s job, duty and ethical imperative to level the playing field, and it is doing nothing but tilting the scales of electoral advancement toward one candidate.

That sort of thing foments resentment and mistrust while alienating the voters you need to ensure general-election victory.

Even more dangerous than that, it creates an atmosphere that says, “The party knows what’s best for you  HEY LOOK! BRIGHT SHINY LIGHT! OMG! Did you see what cray-cray Lace did at 'The Bachelor' mansion? Amazeballs!  so just stay in lockstep instead of hearing what our candidates say about issues affecting all Americans, but minorities in particular.”

It does nothing but swing the pendulum more in the GOP’s direction, and it could very easily reach the point that there’s nothing to be done to swing it back within 10 months. 

And, you know what? By setting out to create a nation of low-information voters, the DNC will have gotten what it deserves.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to catch up with the presidential forum that the DNC apparently didn’t want me to see.