The Atlantic

Don’t Overthink a Climate-Change Debate

Of course Democratic candidates should square off on the issue. Here’s what a moderator should ask.
Source: Stephen Lam / Reuters

For the past week, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates, grassroots organizers, and national committee have fought over whether it would be a good idea to have a “climate-change debate.”

Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, whose presidential campaign is focused on climate change, started the fight a few weeks ago, when he demanded that Democrats devote one of their dozen scheduled primary debates to climate change—both to what it will mean domestically and internationally and to what candidates presume to do about it. Last week, the Democratic National Committee responded by telling Inslee that it wouldn’t hold a climate debate—and that if he appeared in one, it would block him from all future officially sanctioned debates.

Inslee responded with outrage, and since then the DNC has been trying to defend itself. Tom Perez, the DNC chair, has tried to in a few different ways. titled “On Debates” earlier this week. “If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?” he pleaded. The tone demonstrates how poorly the DNC has fared here: has ever published a hyper-earnest Medium post from a position of strength.

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