I will talk about the debate itself in a separate post, but in the meantime…
At last night’s Democratic debate, we saw a field of candidates that is uniformly excellent, and we saw a discussion that was long on policy discussions and short on personal vitriol. And yet, numerous progressives are all over social media constantly complaining because there aren’t enough debates and whining because the debate was held on a Saturday night. Both of these complaints are examples of why progressives lose big in the electoral process. Let me explain.
It is up to each individual campaign to increase their candidate’s profile, it’s not up to the news media to do it for them. If your campaign is waiting for the news media to notice you, you have a functional problem with your campaign. A fatal flaw, in fact. “More debates” doesn’t increase anyone’s profile enough to turn them into a winner and, in fact, too many debates can have the opposite effect. There was a point in the 2008 election cycle when people groaned when another debate was announced; it was pathetic. And in 2012, there were more than 20 Republican debates and their nominee still lost badly. While many think in terms of pure numbers and they see Republican debates drawing huge numbers and worry, if they would step back and think about it, they would note that what most people see with each debate is a GOP that is hopelessly out of touch, hopelessly moronic and which has been turned into an episode of the Donald Trump Show. I’ll get to this later, but if you think Bernie Sanders doesn’t get any media love, pity every Republican candidate who isn’t Donald Trump.
So, before you get nervous about the ratings, consider which is more valuable overall to Democrats in an election scenario; 5-7 million people watching serious Democrats talking about serious issues seriously, or 25 million watching the Republicans put on a clown show featuring a reality TV star who has obviously gone off his nut? The answer is obvious, if you bother to think about it honestly. And for another week, they will see snippets of Democrats talking about issues seriously in between snippets of Donald Trump saying something profoundly stupid.
As for the whining about holding the debates on a Saturday night, all I can say is, are you kidding me? Saturday and Sunday are the two BEST nights for a debate, and for a very simple reason. Those who wish to watch them are far better able to watch them on Saturday than any other day of the week. And let’s face it; the only people who watch these things are those who are really interested. Why do you think football is played on Saturday and Sunday? When a debate starts at 8 ET on a weekday, it’s actually 5 in the Pacific and 6 in the Mountain time zones, which means nearly half of the available audience is unable to watch because they’re held up at work or they’re driving home. The same is not true of a Saturday debate. Also, the competition for programming is a lot less on Saturdays because the networks have largely abandoned that night to cable. Let’s be clear here; the networks don’t blow off Saturday because no one watches TV, but because that’s the night cable chooses to shine.
And another thing; open up your local newspaper or news app on your lazy Sunday morning. Then check out the Sunday talking head shows and tell me what they’re all talking about. The Sunday news cycle is the biggest of the week, and Saturday night debates kill it. Sure as hell beats Wednesday.
That brings up something else.
Think about the Democratic base for a second. Working people, the elderly and (very importantly, especially for Sanders supporters) young people. Young people have cut the cord and the others are home on Saturday night. Now, here’s the question; what are they most likely to see; a debate on a weekday on CNN or Fox News, or a debate on a broadcast network on a Saturday night? Exactly. Those who really want to see the debate will see it, but they are more likely to see it on Saturday night on ABC than on a Tuesday afternoon at 5 or 6 on CNN or Fox.
One last thing…
If you want to win an election, including a primary, you need the most votes, which means you have to appeal to the most people. You don’t do that when you’re constantly complaining about irrelevant minutia. When someone complains constantly about a candidate’s lack of news coverage, or sees all of the other candidates ganging up on them or seeing conspiracies with the leadership of their party, they are actually demonstrating that they have little or no confidence in their favorite candidate, and that lack of confidence repels voters. Concentrate on selling your candidate and stop your whining. It’s the job of the candidate’s campaign to generate news media interest, it’s not the job of reporters to report on everyone equally. Why do you think campaigns put out policy papers and make policy announcements? It’s to generate interest from the news media.
Imagine, if you will, that reporters just did stories like, “(Candidate B) gave their standard stump speech today, but we haven’t talked about them very much, so we thought we’d mention their name to keep their supporters off our backs.” If you don’t agree that such a thing is ridiculous, then I encourage you to take up another hobby because politics isn’t your thing.
“Butthurt” is not a policy position that will get a candidate more votes because it’s really annoying. Stop it. Consider how much time you spend whining and imagine how much better it would be for your candidate if you talked about the candidate and the issues.