The Black Lives Matter group called for a Democratic presidential primary debate focusing on their paramount issues, race relations, police treatment of minorities, and “white privilege.” The Democratic National Committee offered a town hall meeting-style event instead. BlackLivesMatter responded that wasn’t good enough.
Whatever else you think of the organization, their objection sounds perfectly rational and fair:
It is not enough to poll the Presidential candidates on whether or not they think “Black lives matter” or “All lives matter” – we deserve substantive responses – including and in addition to criminal justice reform, what will the presidential candidates do to ensure that Black lives matter?
We deserve substance and not rhetoric. In fact, we demand it. Join the call for a Black Lives Matter Presidential debate focused on the issues important to our community.
Limiting the number of debates unfairly privileges some candidates over others, and cheats voters out of the opportunity to fully engage candidates on issues we care about. Black voters, in particular, constitute a significant portion of the potential voting bloc. According to the Center for American Progress, in 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group, across ethnicity, gender and race. Those of us who (reluctantly) give our votes to the Democratic Party deserve more robust forums on issues of particular concern to our communities, at home and abroad. Its time to extend the conversation beyond the status quo.
Sure, the debate might lead to some awkward moments, as the candidates tell the members of Black Lives Matter things they don’t want to hear, or find themselves making promises, pledges and assessments of the issues that will play poorly in the general election. But if a candidate finds an event like this to difficult to handle as a candidate, how are they going to handle these issues in the presidency?
Finally, debate moderators who can get Bernie Sanders to stop shouting!