The Democratic National Committee, faced with the prospect of dozens of unworthy candidates cluttering up the debate stages this summer and fall, had no choice but to up the ante. While candidates will only have to pull in 60,000 or so donors to qualify for the first debate later this month, they’ll need to find 130,000 small donors if they want to get on stage for the debates this fall. That has sent the desperate candidates into a mad frenzy of begging on social media, as humorously outlined by Vice in a recent article.
For New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, the announcement merited a “BREAKING” tag in a barrage of Facebook ads. Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro called it “astounding.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who’s 68, gave it no less than two siren emojis in a Facebook post.
The new Democratic debate rules have made “Chip in” the unofficial, decidedly thirsty rallying cry for several campaigns desperate to make the cut. The resulting fight for small donors has helped Facebook rake in more than $1 million each week from the sprawling Democratic field, according to company figures.
“ALERT: We need 130,000 donors this summer to be guaranteed a spot at the next Democratic debates,” Inslee’s page said in one version of a Facebook ad appealing for donations as low as $1. “Help keep Jay’s mission to defeat climate change front and center on the stage. Chip in before midnight!”
But here’s the rub: Longshot candidates may need to spend more on Facebook ads and other digital outreach than donors actually give to their campaigns.
Ha! In other words, just to meet the donor threshold, these campaigns are going to wind up in the red with their own donation pushes. Instead of opening up the democratic floodgates, these rules are going to wind up making it even more likely that the candidates in it to win it will be the ones with the most money to spare. Isn’t that what the DNC is supposed to oppose? Money in politics? Well, don’t be too surprised by that ugly whiff of hypocrisy. How were they to know every mailman and his dog was going to run for President?
We’re not in the habit of telling the DNC how to run their business, but this also feels like a way to reward candidates that just happen to be popular with the online crowd. Okay, so you have no trouble stirring up enough interest on Reddit to get past the threshold – what does that actually say about your ability to govern? What does that mean in terms of your ability to win the general election, for that matter? It just seems very short-sighted.
But funny. Definitely very funny. Beg on, 2020 Dems.