Could the state of the DNC get any worse? Well, yes, always, apparently. Look no further than the current DNC Rules Committee, who recently published new rules for who can and cannot speak during the Dem debates. The new standards do away with the grassroots funding threshold previously required, meaning billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is self-funding his campaign, could potentially be onstage at Nevada’s Feb. 16 debate.
How convenient, right? Well, that may largely be because of who has seats on the committee. Those present include Michael Nutter, Philadelphia’s mayor from 2008-2016, who is a part of the 32-member Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee and also Bloomberg’s choice for national political chair. According to a statement on Bloomberg’s site, that means he “will advise the campaign on policy development and strategy, and serve as a national surrogate on behalf of the campaign, recruiting key voices to join the campaign and traveling to field offices and events, speaking to constituents and press about why Mike Bloomberg is uniquely qualified to unite and rebuild the country at a time when it is more divided than ever.” Seems like a useful ally. Also present is California superdelegate Alexandra Rooker, who just last month was hired as Bloomberg’s senior advisor. She is currently vice chair of the California Democratic Party.
Publicly, the push for more inclusive rules for the debates did not come from Bloomberg. Instead, Julián Castro and Cory Booker, who both dropped out last year, were the ones to call for it. Andrew Yang, who most likely would not qualify for the next debate if the previous rules were in place, wrote a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez asking that there be more qualifying polls in place for this issue. Yang’s press secretary S.Y. Lee tweeted Jan. 31 in frustration for the new rules’ “yield” to billionaires like Bloomberg, arguing the loss of focus on grassroots movements take away from the party’s larger goals.
Castro and Booker both argued that with the current qualifications, qualifiers for the debates end up overwhelmingly white. This is true, and bears change. However, these new qualifications don’t help minority candidates—no, instead they help those at the very top.
Even several candidates, former and otherwise, tweeted in opposition to the changing rules.
Stay tuned to see if Bloomberg takes the stage on Feb. 16.