Democratic National Committee’s New Debate Rules Criticized For Favoring White Males

New DNC Chair, Tom Perez and Deputy Chair and Representative Keith Ellison do a television interview in Statuary Hall.
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced new rules for the party’s upcoming September presidential debate, and not everyone is happy with them.

The DNC requires candidates to have either 65,000 unique donors or establish a 1 percent polling average for the first two debates in June and July. But for the third and fourth debates this year, BuzzFeed News reports that the DNC will require campaigns to gain both the donor and polling thresholds to qualify. These rules mean that by the third debate, campaigns will require 2 percent party support and at least 130,000 donors. Of these donors, they will also need 400 contributors from at least 20 states.

Although the sprawling pool of 23 candidates already flusters many Democratic voters, some are angry that the new rules will significantly hinder campaigns with lower polling numbers. In addition, the lack of advance notice for the new rules will impact such campaigns immediately, per The Washington Post.

Jess Morales Rocketto, a Democratic operative and political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, believes that the new rules with hurt women of color the most.

“White men have led in the polls, in the donors, and in the press.”

“Women and people of color will not make it to the main stage for debate,” she added and suggested that the requirements will push candidates to funnel their money into finding donors instead of to organizers on the ground.

A senior adviser to Julián Castro’s campaign echoed Rocketto’s sentiments.

“We’re talking about a donor base not being activated outside of, really, predominantly white men.”

Loading...

“I think it requires a lot of creativity about how we activate a donor class that hasn’t been reached yet, and that is a challenge over the course of the summer, because there is a finite number of donors,” they said.

Former U.S. representative and 2020 presidential candidate John Delaney, who has mostly been self-funding his campaign and hasn’t focused on raising money thus far, asked DNC Chairman Tom Perez to reveal the reasoning behind the creation of the new rules to ensure “complete transparency” and determine if he was prioritizing “attributes of certain candidates.”

Delany highlights the fact that 40 percent of Americans can’t afford basic needs, such as food, housing, and utilities. He claims that people that can’t afford basic needs aren’t going to donate to a party, and suggests that the new rules render this portion of America voiceless.

“If you can’t afford your basic needs, you’re not giving money to candidates. Why is that a good decision for the party?”