Photo: Paul Sancya (AP)

After learning so little during Wednesday’s debate, I let out a deep, deep exhale after learning that only seven of the 24 presidential candidates have qualified for the September debate in Houston. The debate has stricter qualifications that must be met by Aug. 28, according to The New York Times.

To make the debate stage, a candidate must acquire 130,000 unique donors with 400 donors across 20 states and have at least 2 percent support in four approved polls by Aug. 28, according to Politico.

The seven qualified candidates are:

  • Sen. Cory Booker
  • Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Joe Biden
  • Beto O’Rourke

However, according to the Times, Julián Castro and Andrew Yang have reached the donations threshold, but only have three qualifying polls. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has the qualifying polling, but only has accrued about 120,000 donors. That leaves 14 additional candidates not approaching the necessary polling or number of donors — and honestly thank god.

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I think the Democratic Party will be healthier with a robust debate about who exactly will be the nominee and what policies they will pursue. But 10-person debates are not the way to achieve that. Particularly when these debates are not even touching reproductive rights and skirting around the climate crisis with its only mention deep into the programming.

Getting to hear from a smaller number of candidates (which could still hit double digits, by the way!) is a avenue for voters to actually learn about policy. We should be learning about the difference between Medicare-For-All and all the different M4A-But-Not plans put forth in response. Candidates should be debating the best way to save our fucking planet. We should be having real conversations about diplomacy and our never-ending war in Afghanistan. We should be talking about how candidates will support Roe v. Wade and open abortion clinics in abortion deserts. If this election is as important as everyone says it is — and it is — we shouldn’t have to sit through debate moderators who keep returning to zero-percent-polling John Delaney just so they can have a so-called moderate voice.

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So, God bless Texas and the apparently only seven people who will get to grace the stage with the Monday Night Football-esque introductions.

Correction, 8/2/19, 8:08 a.m. ET: The headline of this story initially said that “only 7 people qualified for the next debate.” In fact, the number of candidates in the debate has not been set yet. We have updated the headline to reflect this.