Debates are of great value, but only when all relevant voices are included and can freely participate in them. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), however, has determined that only Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be heard during this month’s presidential debates.
The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.
Debates are of great value, but only when all relevant voices are included and can freely participate in them. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), however, has determined that only Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be heard during this month’s presidential debates. This despite that fact that there are two more viable candidates running for this office. The League of Women Voters has called the situation a fraud on the American voter, and it certainly is.
Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties respectively, both have a demonstrated the level of support — either 1% of the vote in a credible national poll, or qualification for federal matching funds, or both. Their opinions, ideas, and arguments should be heard and considered alongside the two front-runners if we are truly interested in moving our country forward. New ideas should be welcomed and encouraged in a healthy democracy. However, alternative voices are being silenced by the CPD and this amounts to censorship.
The CPD, which is run by and for the two major parties, took over the debates from the League of Women Voters to limit the stage to their own candidates and to make sure that no challenging questions get asked. It’s time for Americans of all political persuasions to unite and demand debates with the participation of all candidates in a free and fair exchange of ideas and opinions.
Media organizations don’t have to play by the CPD’s rules. They can schedule their own debates that include the Green and Libertarian candidates. They can also schedule off-site follow-up debates and interviews with Stein and Johnson after the CPD debates. It seems, however, that the mainstream media is content with the staus quo. Recently, even Marty Moss-Coane said in the last few minutes of the Oct. 16 episode of Radio Times that “we don’t have a woman running for president” this time around. Wrong!
So what can we do to change this situation? Tell the CPD that the debates must include every candidate who is on enough ballots to win the White House and who has demonstrated a minimal level of support. Tell TV and radio stations that American voters want to hear from all candidates on important issues, not just front-runners. Demand that news broadcasts and talk shows invite alternative candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson to discuss their ideas. And don’t forget to let your opinions be known when local stations come around asking for contributions.
There are not only two choices on election day. American politics is not and should not be limited to two parties that accept millions in corporate contributions. The only wasted vote is the vote that does not get cast.
We have the power to change the direction of our country. We can start by demanding inclusion of all qualified presidential candidates in televised debates.