He met me last night at our local watering hole and said, “I can’t stop thinking about what you said about that doctor and the other guy not being in the debates. Who decides these things?”
“Some group called the Commission on Presidential Debates which was formed in 1987 by the Republicans and Democrats. Before that the League of Women Voters tried to corral the pesky candidates and make them debate, ” I replied and reached for my trusty I Pad for more info.
“This page in Wikipedia is disputed but let’s just see what it says. Ah, Nixon didn’t even debate in 1972, but most of the candidates do. As far as third parties are concerned, looks like the two parties try to set percentages of popular support over 5 polls for participation in a debate. I think Perot had around 7%. Then they upped it to 15% in 2000 so that Nader couldn’t participate in the debates. Nader sued and Gary Johnson has sued this year. Wow, it looks like Jill Stein debated Mitt Romney back in 2002 for the governorship of Massachusetts and the Boston Globe declare her “the only adult in the room”.
“That’s what I thought when you made me watch that first debate on Democracy Now where they let the doctor answer the same questions as Obama and Romney. (Husband didn’t mention Rocky Anderson who was also on the Democracy Now show). It’s not right. It really pisses me off. Makes me angry.”
A little background here. My husband doesn’t get angry. My husband especially doesn’t get angry about politics. My husband doesn’t usually even want to talk about it when we go out for dinner. He resignedly listens to me at home talk about Wal-Mart employee actions, union solidarity in Europe and none here, how Obama and Romney are Baritt O’Bomney, the U.S. being sovereign in its own currency and it is not like Greece… He patiently listens to me talk about the latest book I’m reading. (Now it’s “Stayin’ Alive” by Jefferson Cowie) before he gets up and announces he has to “go fix some fence.”
When I met him 20 years ago, he had never even voted. “What’s the use?” I was appalled. I had dutifully voted in every primary and election since college and dutifully voted Democrat. I got him thinking and voting. I got heavily involved in party politics 12 years after arriving in Montana. Worked like heck for Democrats. Ha! Now I’m thinking he had the right idea. Very little has changed nationally since I first voted in 1972. No, that’s not true. It’s gotten progressively, yes progressively worse. Locally it has been a mixed bag. Got some conservative Democrats elected which doesn’t work out so well at the national level, but at the state level it kept some of the darker forces at bay. Ballot initiatives have been worthwhile activist endeavors like getting more kids covered for health, keeping arsenic out of rivers, and passing legalizing medical marijuana. But forming a local Democratic central committee kicked open a sleeping hornet’s nest of nasty far right militia types. So we quietly closed that down, but that’s another whole saga.
So, you see, it’s important to tell people that there are other candidates running for president and vice president. All week long I’ve asked people in town if they know about the women who were arrested for trying to get into the presidential debate this past Tuesday. Not one person knew about Jill Stein running in the Green Party or former Governor Gary Johnson running as a Libertarian. Not one. And this is a libertarian kind of county and the people I asked were all conservatives. Where’s their vaunted “freedom” in not allowing other voices and arresting candidates who try to call attention to this outrage?
If my husband who doesn’t like to talk politics and doesn’t get angry is angry, then I just bet there are a whole lot of other people out there who are pissed too and don’t know that there are candidates out there that won’t even get a hearing. It’s not really a debate if other ideas are not allowed, is it?
Someone once said “If voting meant something, then they would make it illegal.” So voting might not matter, but shutting people out of the process isn’t right. Roger Hodge in “The Mendacity of Hope” said,”A basic premise of republican form of government is our agreement to submit to law that we have arrived at publicly, through a legitimate deliberative process. ” Hodge was talking about the secretive illegitimate bargains that the Obama administration made behind the scenes for Obamacare. He said those bargains failed the basic test of “a legitimate deliberative process”. And so does all this shadowy group of people behind this bogus commission.
Whether you agree with their ideas or not, it’s not right to shut third parties out of the debates. It’s not right to shut down discussions of alternative ideas. It’s just not right, as my husband would say.
Link to Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala being arrested at the Presidential debates.
Link to more on Presidential debate shenanigans.