Larry Elder may end up blocking the Republican debate set for tonight

Larry Elder has threatened to report the Republican National Committee (“RNC”) to the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) for alleged election campaign violations if it doesn’t put him on the debate stage tonight. He contends that he’s met the RNC’s qualification requirements and that its refusal to acknowledge that fact could subject the RNC to up to $100 million in fines. Good for him because, if he’s right, he could expose with more clarity how the gamesmanship in America’s elections plays out, on both the left and the right.

Assuming the debate goes forward, Donald Trump won’t be on the stage tonight. He’s announced that his absence is because everyone already knows who he is and what he stands for. The obvious calculation is also that he’s so far ahead right now that he can’t gain ground by appearing on the stage; he can only lose ground.

Image: Larry Elder. X screen grab.

Even those who agree with Trump’s calculation are pointing out that, if he says “people know me” is a viable excuse for staying off the stage, he’s allowing Biden to say the same in the lead-up to the 2024 election. I say, so what? I have several reasons for saying that:

First, it’s true that, in a potential rematch between Trump and Biden, people do know them, for each will have acted as president for one term.

Second, there aren’t enough stimulants in the world to get Biden functioning on a debate stage. He’ll find a way not to appear, no matter what.

Third, and most important, the debates are fake and have been for a long time. I have never forgotten how Candy Crowley inserted herself in the debate between Obama and Romney or how Chris Wallace sought to undermine Trump in his debate with Biden. A neutral debate would have as moderators genuinely curious people asking real questions. A fake debate has partisan hacks asking loaded questions (or unloaded ones) and putting their thumbs—indeed, their whole hands—on the scales.

Not only that, but the entire process is a joke. A real debate puts a principle out there and allows the people involved to debate it at length, not in 90-second sound bytes. It’s not about moderator gotchas or the media doing next-day quarterbacking. It’s intended to inform the audience about the issues, about the debaters’ views, and about the best argument on the topic.

I’ll be watching tonight’s debate—assuming it goes forward—not because I believe there will be any benefit to me as a voter, but because I have to in my role as a political commentator. I already know a lot about the candidates because, with the exception of Vivek Ramaswamy, they’ve all been around for a long time and are unlikely to enlighten me about themselves or any subject on which they speak.

But still, camera time matters, and Larry Elder understands that. For that reason, he’s taking very seriously the RNC’s decision to exclude him from the debate stage tonight, even though, according to him, he’s completely fulfilled the requirements for qualifying. He’s therefore set a deadline for the RNC to let him on the stage, or he’s going to go after it with all the vengeance the FEC can bring to bear—keeping in mind that the FEC is almost certainly staffed by Democrat activists who would love to destroy the RNC:

You all know Larry Elder: He’s brilliant and brings something unique to the stage, given his background and his struggles just living in crazy California. I had the pleasure of speaking with him a few years ago and came away respecting him as a very nice, very interesting man. Aside from the fact that the debate is a Kabuki theater to begin within, I think it would be good to have him on the stage.

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