Disappearing midterm election debates: Democrats dodging their opponents this year
Updated on May 9, 2019
From the start of every presidential election cycle, Democrats get their last chance to argue over the issues — as opposed to the candidates themselves — and to talk about whether they should keep the White House.
This year’s presidential nomination fight, now in its fourth month, has devolved into a kind of last-gasp debate with the White House about the best way to present its case. The Republicans are doing it themselves, but they are not doing it the way Democrats are doing it.
Democrats, after an unsuccessful attempt to put the debate over on-the-record statements by President Donald Trump and his surrogates, are now using “non-binding fact-finding” to try to explain their positions without discussing them in front of voters.
Trump has taken to tweeting at them to explain why he thinks he should be allowed to win, and his surrogates are doing the same.
But instead of the last-gasp debate over the White House, the Democratic candidates are giving the opposition the last chance to debate, for real, directly with the American voters.
This year’s presidential election, like every presidential election since 1976, is being watched by a much larger audience than usual: at least 8 million people, according to the Pew Research Center. And it’s a presidential election that is, perhaps more than others, about the country and, it seems, about the people who live in it.
President Donald Trump attends a rally in Nashville on March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
But this presidential election year is unusually complicated for two reasons.
First, because of the role that impeachment plays in it — it has, among other things, made possible the unprecedented Trump-Russia investigation, which is leading to the revelation of new wrongdoing by Trump himself.
More broadly, in a democracy there are very few times when everyone in the country can be together on the same playing field and present a united front for the country’s highest office. The debates this