DNC Nixes Climate Change Debate Despite Pressure from Youth Movement

Protesters throw an earth-shaped ball during the "Global Strike For Future" demonstration in Stockholm on May 24, 2019. Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images
Jonathan Nackstran/AFP/Getty

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has nixed a Democrat debate focused solely on climate change.

A panel at DNC made the decision on Thursday, the Huffington Post reported:

At a party conference Thursday in San Francisco, the DNC’s resolutions committee voted 17-8 against a resolution that has become a cause célèbre for activists and for more than a dozen presidential contenders who felt the traditional debate format failed to adequately address the looming threat of catastrophe. The issue could resurface during the full committee’s general session on Saturday.

It was a predictable outcome. Top brass at the DNC opposed the climate debate from the get-go, fearing it could sow discord in the base and hamper the eventual nominee in the general election. CNN and MSNBC announced plans last month to host forums on climate change in September. DNC Chair Tom Perez affirmed the forums in a resolution introduced earlier this month, which some activists saw as setting the stage for voting down the climate debate.

The Huffington Post reported that a senior advisor for presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden, Symone Sanders, was among those who were against a climate change debate, calling it “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”

This despite Biden saying on the campaign trail in Iowa that he was “all in” for a climate change debate.

The idea for the debate originated with the Sunrise Movement, a radical left group of young people who occupied Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office on Capitol Hill and have pushed for lawmakers to embrace the Green New Deal.

“We deserve a chance at a livable future,” one Sunrise activist shouted after the vote, the Huffington Post reported. “We deserve a climate debate.”

The Sunrise Movement vowed to hold protests but expressed support for another DNC decision: the reversal of a ban on 2020 Democrat candidates taking part in climate forums, like the ones planned by television outlets, that aren’t sanctioned by the committee.

“This partial victory shows the strength of the grassroots movement and the power of young people,” Sunrise Movement spokesperson Sofie Karasek said in a statement. “In the coming days and months, we’ll keep fighting to make sure the DNC and Tom Perez treat the climate crisis like the emergency that it is, and give it the airtime and attention that it deserves.”

“Adding to the string was Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee’s departure from the 2020 race,” the Huffington Post reported. “The Washington governor, who pegged his entire candidacy to a sweeping climate plan, dropped out late Wednesday night as his low polling numbers disqualified from the next full debate in September.”

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