Is RNC right requiring candidates to avoid debates hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates?
- On January 13, 2022, the Republican National Committee wrote a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates declaring the CPD “stonewalled” the RNC’s requested changes to the process and presented “bias.” Given the CPD’s response, the RNC encouraged all GOP candidates to boycott any debates hosted by the CPD.
- In response to the RNC, the CPD stated, “The CPD deals directly with candidates for President and Vice President who qualify for participation in CPD’s general election debates. The CPD’s plans for 2024 are based on fairness, neutrality and a firm commitment to help the American public learn about the candidates and the issues.”
- In recent years, Republicans have said the commission is “biased” against GOP candidates: Former President Trump was rescheduled during the 2020 election, the second presidential debate was canceled after Trump’s COVID diagnosis, and the moderators were criticized by the party.
- The Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 to sponsor the quadrennial general election debates as a nonprofit and nonpartisan corporation; it has since hosted the last nine presidential debates.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) recently sent a letter to all the potential presidential candidates for the 2024 elections saying they should no longer take part in debates that are primarily run by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). This will be a monumental change in how the RNC takes aim at the CPD and most likely lead to changes in how vice-presidential and presidential general election debates are conducted on live TV. And there is a good reason for this change.
First, The RNC wants to ensure that all future Republican presidential nominees have a chance to debate the opposition on a neutral playing field. In the past, the CPD has lacked fairness with its questions to Republican candidates, acting in a partisan manner. Experience from the 2020 presidential debates reveals there was no fairness in selecting the venue, the questions, and the schedule. Likewise, past debates reveal that CPD has often aired only the 'toxic policies,' as the head of DNC calls, of the Republican party on the national stage but ignored such policies by Democrats. Notably, in the past, moderators have often been biased towards Republicans and have even given the questions to the opposition ahead of the debate.
All the RNC is asking is for neutrality and fairness when it comes to the debate so that Americans can learn about the issues and the candidates without any additional bias. Republicans have been trying to level the playing field when it comes to debating for some time. After the 2020 election, it decided there would be no benefit in presenting the Republican candidates through the obviously biased CPD platform and moderators. The natural progression is to allow no debates until this bias issue is resolved.
The Republican National Committee's (RNC) recent proposal to require its candidates to pledge not to participate in Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) events is simply the latest sign that the party is unable to unshackle itself from the effects of Donald Trump's continued propagation of the 'big lie.' Trump and others in his party view every institution that doesn't immediately parrot his worldview, including the overwhelmingly debunked lies about the election being stolen, as an enemy to be dismantled. The RNC is wrong to further these lies by kowtowing to extreme elements in its party.
Requiring that candidates make these pledges is just plain odd. Must Republicans always be in lockstep on all issues? These litmus tests stifle independent thought and seem out of step with a party that claims to back free speech and frequently cries censorship.
Making candidates pledge not to participate in debates hosted by the CPD is a bad look for the RNC. The CPD is a non-profit and nonpartisan group whose aim is to ensure public debate amongst leading presidential and vice-presidential candidates to educate voters before upcoming elections. By saying that it won't allow its candidates to participate, the GOP is saying it does not stand for open debate and voter education. This is hardly surprising considering the unanimous GOP opposition to recent attempts to strengthen voting rights legislation and signals a continued drift away from tradition, truth, and reality by the party. The GOP clearly feels threatened by open and fairly moderated debate and believes that it can only succeed if it controls the process of debate.