The first Democratic presidential primary debate will take place June 26-27 in Miami and feature 20 presidential hopefuls eager to appeal to a national audience.
With so many candidates debating, it will be a considerable feat to ensure the discussion remains focused on the issues of most importance to Democratic voters.
Prior to these debates, there have been few opportunities to actually compare the candidates varying platforms.
For example, climate change is a topic that many Democratic candidates have paid a lot of lip service to without giving many specifics.
According to a survey by CBS News, more than half of young Americans consider climate change to be a “crisis.”
With climate change being a main concern for Democratic voters, we can’t allow candidates to get by without giving specifics on how they will tackle the issue.
Opinions among candidates vary wildly on how to best tackle climate change. The Green New Deal, as proposed by the Sunshine Movement, requires we stop using fossil fuels within 12 years. Other Democratic candidates, like former Vice President Joe Biden, suggest stopping by the year 2050. Strategies to meet these goals include everything from a carbon tax to a federal jobs program to build renewable energy.
It is important that voters have an opportunity to hear these different strategies discussed side by side on the debate stage.
When asked whether the Democratic National Committee would consider conducting a debate based solely on the candidates' plan to combat climate change, DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a blog post Tuesday that, “If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”
Presumably, Perez is referring to Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) who has made climate change his central issue and how structuring a debate around the topic would somehow give him an unfair advantage.
This excuse minimizes the role climate change will play in this election. For many Democratic voters, not having a concrete plan to combat this escalating crisis is disqualifying.
Every presidential candidate on that stage needs to be prepared to say whether or not they actually support plans like the Green New Deal or if they support a different approach.
We can’t allow presidential candidates a pass on this all-important issue and we can’t let the Democratic National Committee minimize the importance of having a concrete plan.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.