Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is really not having a good year. Her candidates, her colleagues, even the friendly media at MSNBC have all turned on her over the strict limitations she has elected to put on the primary cycle’s debate schedule. Her response to this criticism has been crystal clear: I will not sanction any additional debates.

Then came the Black Lives Matter movement with one simple request: add a racial justice-themed debate to the schedule!

Whether this is sincere (and I think it is) or the world’s greatest troll remains to be seen; but anyone who has been watching the news cycle over the past few years knows that her response to this request is going to haunt the DNC for a long time.

She said no. Of course she said no—she had to. The DNC sent a very nice letter back to the group, saying, “We believe that your organization would be an ideal host for a presidential candidate forum — where all of the Democratic candidates can showcase their ideas and policy positions that will expand opportunity for all, strengthen the middle class and address racism in America… The DNC would be happy to help promote the event.”

DWS isn’t totally friendless on this; prominent BLM activist Deray Mckesson stayed positive about the possibility of a town hall:

Some activists and organizers, however, are not satisfied with a lower-profile forum:

In an interview on Wednesday, Black Lives Matter organizer Elle Hearns said the umbrella group had yet to decide if it would proceed with an attempt to host a town hall, and said that she was still personally disappointed that the DNC will not sanction an additional debate.

“Their response to our request is unsatisfactory,’ Hearns said, and added that it is irresponsible for the Democratic National Committee to host so few debates. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz should be more mindful of her responsibility not only to the DNC, but to the American people.”

Mckesson, however, said he has been in talks with DNC officials to coordinate a presidential town hall and has also reached out to the Republican National Committee with the hope of including GOP presidential candidates as well.

Activists, many of whom were politically unaffiliated prior to the current protest movement, continue to grapple with how to best influence the ongoing presidential campaign. While many of the most prominent activists and organizers have gained national followings, and most of the leading presidential campaigns — especially in the Democratic field — have worked to ensure they remain in the movement’s good graces.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall and know how that conversation between Mckesson and the RNC went.

The Black Lives Matter movement is already unhappy with the DNC’s lack of focus on racial and social justice; it will be interesting to see whether or not the everyday activists currently seething over the DNC’s polite blowoff will fall in line behind more high-profile organizers, or instead take the party to task.

Personally, I hope it’s the latter. When it happens, the DNC will have no one to blame but the hamfisted, whipped-up, race-based narratives they throw at Republicans.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller


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