Next On Republicans’ Purge List: Presidential Debates

For a party so incensed over so-called “cancel culture,” republicans sure have been doing a lot of canceling lately.

They want to cancel the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” in schools even though schools aren’t teaching it.

They cancel any member of their caucus who refuses to support the big lie that Donald Trump won the “rigged” 2020 election.

Many even want to cancel Donald Trump now after he admitted he received the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.

They want to cancel women’s reproductive rights.

They want to cancel Sesame Street‘s iconic character Big Bird.

They want to cancel Dr. Fauci.

This week they demonstrated how much they want to cancel voting rights.

Of course, they want to cancel President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats, and everything that might even tangentially resemble something other than what benefits the wealthy and corporations.

They recently added another item to their list of “cancellations.”

Presidential debates.

As The New York Times first reported, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is considering prohibiting candidates from participating in the Committee on Presidential Debates (CPD)-sponsored future exchanges.

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel delivered a litany of complaints to Fox so-called “news” host Laura Ingraham this week, indicating the non-partisan CPD is biased toward Democrats, Joe Biden specifically.

McDaniel claimed:

“They picked a moderator that had worked for Joe Biden, and then they switched one of the debates to virtual to let Joe Biden stay in the basement. So Republicans know when we have a free and fair forum and when we have an exchange of ideas, we win. That’s why we said to the debate commission we want to guarantee that debates will start before twenty six states start voting. They said no thanks. We don’t want to work with you and now we’re going to go fight to give our nominee that fair forum that they deserve.”

What neither McDaniel nor Ingraham mentioned is that the first debate between Biden and Trump was in person–despite Trump being infected with COVID.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace moderated that debate at which Trump and his family refused to be tested for COVID or wear masks.

They also failed to explain the second debate was changed to a virtual format (“to let Joe Biden stay in the basement”) after Trump was hospitalized and he refused to participate virtually.

McDaniel suggests the RNC and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) appoint representatives to attend CPD’s board meetings, and have input into debate moderators.

The CPD was reportedly considering these proposals, but McDaniel’s accusing the organization of refusing to negotiate “until it is too late to matter for the 2024 election” may have derailed any pseudo attempt at bipartisanship.

McDaniel wrote:

“The RNC initiated this dialogue on behalf of its future nominee, who will undoubtedly meet any debate participation criteria. As you know that individual will have little opportunity to have this dialogue with the CPD given the short window between his or her nomination and the first debate. By then the CPD will have already completed its ‘quadrennial review,’ structural changes will be impossible, and planning for the 2024 presidential debates will essentially be complete. The RNC therefore cannot simply ‘wait and see,’ as the CPD seems to suggest, but must act now. To do otherwise would forestall any meaningful reform and conveniently leave the CPD unaccountable for another election cycle.”

In other words–no negotiation, no debate over future debates.

“You give us what we want or you’re canceled.”

The CPD responded it “deals directly with candidates for president and vice-president who qualify for participation”, and “plans for 2024 will be based on fairness, neutrality and a firm commitment to help the American public learn about the candidates and the issues.”

As Steve Benen reported:

“If recent history is any guide, it’s easy to imagine Republicans creating an alternative debate schedule, with Republican-approved moderators, to be held in Republican-approved cities and venues. When Democratic nominees respond that they prefer the existing model overseen by the non-partisan commission, the RNC will balk and ask why Democrats are afraid of the alternate model.”

We mustn’t ignore the fact that there was no republican platform in 2020 other than “whatever Trump wants.”

Republicans know their policies are unpopular with most of America, so the only way they can win is to cheat.

That’s what they want to do with elections.

They want to fix it so Americans have no information or alternatives.

Interestingly, they never cry “fraud” when they win, only when they lose.

They’re working overtime to make sure they never do.

Then they will insist elections are “fair.”

Image credit: Clay Banks via Unsplash

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.