The Republican and Democratic parties have a stranglehold on our government. The Green Party has a viable candidate for president, Dr. Jill Stein, but she probably will be shut out of the race for office.
Tired of the same-old in politics? Think corporate power has corrupted government? There is an alternative.
But if the two major parties have their way, you’ll never hear about it.
It is one of the catch-22s of our current electoral process that in order to participate in televised debates for public office you need to have significant standing in the polls. But how else can a candidate gain such standing without having access to the "Super Bowl" event of the year for politics?
Debates are widely recognized to be one of the precious few times in an electoral cycle that the public is paying attention to the actual positions and policy proposals of political contenders. Sick of the glut of PAC-sponsored negative advertising, the debates allow citizens an opportunity to hear from the nominees themselves in depth on important issues and determine their fitness for office.
In a post-Citizens United era, where the Supreme Court has given privately-funded PACs the right to flood our elections with money in order to protect their own interests, the presidential debates are the one opportunity for a level playing field instead of pay-to-play: All party nominees should have equal access to the public airwaves in order to earn the public’s votes.
In fact, this was the rule from 1976 to 1984, when the nonpartisan League of Women Voters was the presidential debate sponsor and worked to ensure that major party candidates could not bar independent candidates from entering the debates.
But in 1986, seeing that third parties were significantly challenging the major parties’ monopoly of the U.S. political process, the Republican and Democratic National Committees ratified an agreement “to take over the presidential debates.” In the following year, the two parties created a private corporation called the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which ever since has sponsored the U.S. Presidential debates, implementing the two major party nominees’ jointly drafted debate contract, and shielding the contract terms from public scrutiny.
A key part of our electoral process has been privatized! It’s time to put an end to this sham. Now more than ever the public needs to hear other voices, other ideas, and other options in what has become a completely dysfunctional, corrupt, bipartisan system.
Let’s break the deadlock.
The 2012 debate schedule:
First presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 3
University of Denver, Denver, CO
Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 11
Centre College, Danville, KY
Second presidential debate (town meeting format):
Tuesday, October 16
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Third presidential debate:
Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL
(photo courtesy of Barbara G. Green)