I’m not surprised the RNC has withdrawn from its participation in the Commission on Presidential Debates, according to CNN. For a political party whose main point of contention is that their voices are actively being stifled, they sure are ready to retreat from using them in a neutral environment that doesn’t indulge their talking points. For all the talk about staying in echo chambers, only one party requires their candidates to sign a “pledge” to remain inside their own.
Senate candidate Herschel Walker skipped the first major Republican debate with less than a month until early voting begins in the Georgia primaries–mostly sticking to controlled appearances and rallies. At least there he won’t have to defend his misleading views on energy policy or claims that he graduated at the top of his class at the University of Georgia. Of course, the state of Georgia is no stranger to political no-shows. Remember when Sen. John Ossoff debated an empty chair when former Sen. David Purdue was absent before the runoff elections? When you don’t have a plan to present and can’t control the room, you will look horrible against somebody who is prepared.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated at the beginning of the year that Senate Republicans have no plans to give an agenda before the 2022 midterms. In reality, what record would they even defend? An ongoing crusade to take abortion rights away from women? Restricting voting rights and changing congressional maps to dilute minority voting power? Or the continuing movement to strip Black history and gender identity from every school district and bookshelf?
Everybody remembers how off the rails the first 2020 Presidental debate was–stemming from the former President yelling, undercutting, and throwing out conspiracy theories while the current President tried to talk about policy. Republicans have to have some self-awareness to know they looked terrible. But if they had something substantial to offer, they wouldn’t go into retreat.
Republicans know that if they are put in a position to present policies that will better the American people’s lives, they will come up empty. So, they will label the institution as “biased” against them and seek to create a version where they don’t have to answer for anything. It’s the same train of thought that frames Presidental elections as being rigged–a strategy that doesn’t require having to defend those claims as truth.
Debate attendance is voluntary, just like Supreme Court Justice recusals from some instances. It would be best to do it because it’s right, but the Republican party isn’t interested in tradition or morality. The constant rejection of order shouldn’t be taken lightly–mostly because Republicans don’t want Americans as a whole to read the fine print.