The Hidden Reason the Primary Debates Seem Extra Crazy This Year

The Hidden Reason the Primary Debates Seem Extra Crazy This Year, by Jeffrey Tucker.

For many viewers in television land, the spectacle has been bizarre. The 20 or so contenders for the Democratic nomination have not only become outlandishly left-wing (“Left vs. Crazy Left,” as Kimberley A. Strassel says). It’s worse: they’ve been performing in ever stranger ways: shorter soundbites, edgier clips, and punchier attacks, with be-bop-style delivery. …

This whole trajectory is not what one would predict in a country that in general tends center right in its political outlook. As Scott Rasmussen notes,

Only 18% of voters share Warren’s enthusiasm for banning private health insurance companies. Only 26% think illegal immigrants should receive health care subsidies from the federal government. Fewer than one-in-five believe the threat of climate change makes it necessary to give the federal government sweeping new powers to control the economy.

You would think that politicians would try not to favor ideas vast majorities reject. What are these candidates thinking? What’s going on here? Surely the high-end professionals running these campaigns know that they can’t win in the general election this way.

The Debate Rules have caused this apparent madness:

First, the media-driven political culture … has made the debates everything that matters. …

Second, the Democratic National Committee is trying not to repeat the 2016 perception that the fix was in with the selection of Hillary Clinton. …

Third, and as a result, far more candidates threw a hat into the ring than was expected, which meant that they had to cap the number at 20 and further allocate television time; hence, the seemingly rational rules for qualification. They had to create a rationing system based on broad support.

The rules seemed sensible. As Politico summarized: “There are two paths to qualifying for the debate stage: breaking 1 percent in three polls from pollsters approved by the Democratic National Committee, or tallying 65,000 unique campaign donors, with at least 200 donors in 20 different states.”

Grass roots! Organic support from people from many states! What could go wrong?

Instead of finding supporters in early primary states by going door-to-door, the candidates instead were forced to run a national campaign of small donors. But it takes a lot of money to buy the necessary social media ads to push people into donating $1 to qualify as a real donor. …

Who gives $1 to a candidate: you guessed it, the extremist activists who just happen also to be financially poor, also known as The Twitter Mob. In order to get them to throw a buck at you, you need to inspire silly activists, as many as possible. That in turn means that you have to reduce your campaign to silly slogans activists like in order to get their attention.

Then on top of that, the standards keep tightening as the debates go on. There are so many candidates that they only get one minute. So their soundbites have to be extra catchy to be broadcast the next day on as many channels as possible in order to maximize more $1 contributions. This means they have to attack each other ever more, from the left, left, left, in order to get the goofballs to open their wallets. …

Under these rules, there will be no more Carters, Clintons, or Obamas. They were all outsiders without a national name until they performed well in the primaries. That system has been blown up, all because of a strange voting rule designed to allocate television time.

This is a remarkable case of how a hastily drafted voting rule unintentionally drove the whole Democratic field to a wacky level of ideological extremism that nearly guarantees they will lose a national election. Everyone knows it, most everyone is against it, but no one can stop it. …

The smart guys at the Democratic National Committee were trying to structure a quasi-market out of candidate popularity, a foolproof system to cause the most meritorious candidates with the best ideas with the broadest appeal to rise to the top. Instead the system blew up and fell apart, leaving a pack of wackadoodles dancing to socialist teen-pop in the hope of getting one-dollar bills thrown at them by a Twitter mob.

That explains a lot.

DNC getting shot by their own genius. 🙂

Trump must be laughing. Except if one of these whack-a-doodles is elected leader of the free world.

hat-tip Adrian