How Many Debates Do Democrats Need?

So it seems the Democratic National Committee has tentatively agreed to six presidential candidates debates, along with an “exclusivity” agreement with the candidates that will probably rule out non-sanctioned debates.

Hunter Walker of Business Insider quotes an anonymous aide to an anonymous potential (or maybe actual) challenger to HRC complaining about this light schedule and suggesting the DNC is acting on HRC’s instructions, or at least on her behalf.

My gut reaction to this kind of story is the old adage: You can’t take the politics out of politics. There is no image in Plato’s Cave of the ideal number of presidential nomination debates. I suspect Team HRC would prefer zero, while Team We-Ain’t-Got-Much-Money would prefer having them once a week. HRC being the overwhelming favorite of party elites, the number’s going to be a lot closer to zero than, say, 60.

But for the sake of argument, let’s look at this from the perspective of a hypothetical Median Democratic Voter. It’s probably going to be someone who supports Hillary, but worries that she’s not going to be tested enough if she cake-walks to the nomination, and maybe wants to “keep her honest” a bit by making sure she doesn’t completely ignore the views of hard-core liberal Democrats and immediately zero in on swing voters. That would suggest friendly opposition and some debates, but not unfriendly opposition, and not debates that gave media folk a chance to test out anti-Hillary talking points for the Republicans.

So what’s appropriate? I honestly don’t know. If you have an opinion, let’s hear it in the comment thread. Otherwise we’ll assume, like Goldilocks, that six debates is just right.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.