Today, advocacy group #AllowDebate will occupy the steps of the Democratic National Committee headquarters and perpetuate a little Democrat-on-Democrat violence over what many believe are unfair and unreasonable restrictions on the Democratic primary debate schedule.

From the Weekly Standard:

“Hundreds of protesters will rally at DNC headquarters on Wednesday afternoon to demand that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz allow Democratic presidential candidates to debate more than 6 times. There were 26 Democratic primary debates in the 2008 campaign, including 11 before September 14th, 2007,” says an email from the organizing group #AllowDebate.

Says the group’s founder, “DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is unilaterally defying the will of Democratic voters, Presidential candidates, and the DNC’s own Vice-Chairs. … Her dictatorial suppression of free and open debate is an attack on the democratic process.”

Wasserman Schultz has repeatedly come under fire from both candidates and activists over this cycle’s debate rules. In addition to scheduling just 6 officially-sanctioned debates, the DNC (via DWS) has limited the potential for rogue forums by creating a new rule: if a Democrat chooses to participate in a non-sanctioned debate, they’ll be banned from future sanctioned ones.

DWS hasn’t backed down on these rules:

“Every day someone is going to say something about my intentions, but I have a party to run,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I have to simultaneously make sure that we’re getting ready to make sure the party is prepared to support our eventual nominee, and at the same time manage a neutral primary nominating process, which I’m going to do. I’ll make decisions that will make some people happy and some people unhappy. I can’t worry about that.”

Unfortunately for DWS, her fellow Democrats are actively working against her plan. Both Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have spoken out against the limited debate timeline; DNC Vice Chairs Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) and R.T. Rybak put out a joint statement asking DWS to revoke the limiting rules. O’Malley has doubled down on his already-heated criticism of the DNC by encouraging his fellow Democrats to join the protest:

“A group called ‘Allow Debate’ has scheduled a protest outside the DNC headquarters, and we want to help them out,” O’Malley’s digital director, Madeleine Ellis, said in an e-mail to supporters Wednesday, in which she shares the DNC’s address and says “afterwards you can join us to watch the next Republican debate at a bar nearby.”

O’Malley used much of his address to a DNC gathering two weeks ago in Minneapolis to blast the process as “rigged,” suggesting the party’s leadership is trying to limit the exposure of front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. He has since made the cry for more debates part of his stump speech as he travels around the country.

Bernie Sanders hasn’t been quiet, either:

“I think that that is dead wrong and I have let the leadership of the Democrats know that,” Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.

“I think this country benefits, all people benefit, democracy benefits, when we have debates, and I want to see more of them,” he added. “I think that debates are a good thing.”

Sanders said that in addition to officially sanctioned debates from the Democratic Party, candidates running for the White House should also be forced to debate environmental issues before a panel of environmentalists, as well as issues specifically important to young voters and to “working people.”

You know you’re winning at this whole leadership thing when your own candidates are calling for your head as part of their stump speeches.

#AllowDebate will protest today from 4:30-6:00 pm outside DNC Headquarters in Washington.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller


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