Before the 2008 Presidential primaries, the Democratic Party scheduled a total of 26 debates between the candidates. The first debate, broadcast over MSNBC, was held on April 26th, 2007. It involved a total of eight candidates. Among them: then-New York senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton and her young, relatively unknown senate colleague from Illinois, whose name was Barack Obama.  The stakes were high in 2008. The incumbent president, George W. Bush, could not run for a third term – so the contest was wide open.

This year, the stakes are equally high, in large part for the same reason. Yet, here we are at the end of July – and not one debate has taken place. By this time in 2007, there had already been five debates, four of which had been televised. This year, while the first GOP debate will be held on August 3rd, the first Democratic debate has yet to be scheduled. No definite dates have been announced, nor do we know which networks will be carrying them.

Why the delay?

Part of the reason may be due to the fact that the Democratic line-up was late in forming. Until Bernie Sanders entered the race as a Democrat, it wasn’t altogether certain who would be challenging Hillary Clinton – and for several weeks, nobody was sure if Sanders could mount a real campaign against the former Secretary of State and First Lady.

By now, of course, there are a total of five Democratic contenders with the addition of Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley. Nonetheless, it is clear that Bernie Sanders is the most serious contender for the Democratic Party nomination other than Clinton. Moreover, Sanders’ approval ratings are on the rise, while Clinton’s are falling.

Is this what the DNC is afraid of? For that matter, is this what the mainstream corporate media is afraid of?

It’s becoming obvious that the corporate Democratic establishment doesn’t want Sanders’ voice publicly challenging Clinton in a head-to-head debate. Furthermore, it’s a good bet that the DNC is putting off scheduling the debates because corporate media giants are equally afraid of Sanders.  Consider Comcast’s recent actions. If one media company is that apprehensive over one Progressive radio host speaking out on a single issue, a serious Progressive Presidential candidate speaking out on a range of issues must have all six in a state of abject terror.  After all, despite the crowds Sanders has been drawing and the overwhelmingly positive reception he’s getting, the mainstream corporate media barely acknowledges him.

The good news is that Progressives don’t need the corporate mainstream media any longer. Like that of Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders’ growing campaign success is largely due to the 21st-Century miracle of social media. It’s proving to be the most powerful form of media since the invention of radio, allowing us to bypass the corporate media with its stranglehold on the public airwaves. Web streaming has enabled virtually anyone with a reliable Internet connection to stream video in real time – meaning we do not have to rely on television networks to host the debates.

It’s time for the DNC to fish or cut bait. If they’re waiting for a mainstream media outlet to host a debate pitting Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, they may wind up waiting a very long time. On the other hand, if social media groups step up to the plate and offer to sponsor the debates, the DNC will have to act. We at ROF requests all progressive and liberal social media outlets demand an immediate debate to be hosted over the web involving all current Democratic presidential candidates. Television news is a dying industry, along with the newspaper. The debate should be occurring on the web anyway, where people actually receive news today.

It’s time for the DNC to internalize the lessons of the Obama campaign as Sanders has done. The organization will have to come into the 21st Century – or be left in the dust of history. The rest of us will continue moving forward.

Sign Petition Today: To help force this debate, click and sign the petition: Initiate Immediately Democratic National Convention Debates.