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Occupy the Debates

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A recent USA Today poll found 76% of voters want debates with four candidates including not just the two most hated candidates in history, the Republican and Democratic nominees and their vice presidential running mates, but Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Greens, and Gary Johnson and Bill Weld of the Libertarians.

Any candidate on enough ballots to achieve 270 electoral college votes should be in the debates. The people have a right to see all candidates debating the issues who are on their ballots.

The deceptive debate commission, which is called a debate commission just to hide the truth: it is a corporation of the Democrats and Republicans whose purpose is to limit debates to their two parties, has no legitimacy. It has a major conflict of interest – why should the two establishment parties decide their opponents cannot debate? It is an obvious conflict of interest that the media should be calling out. The media should join the demand of the people – open debate are essential for democracy.

Today, half of US voters do not even consider themselve Democrats or Republicans, both parties are widely disliked and debates should not be limited to two minority parties, who present two hated candidates when there are four candidates on enough ballots to win a majority of the electoral college.

This week we are starting a series of protests in Washington, DC at the offices of the deceptive debate commission. On Wednesday during rush hour beginning at 4:30 people will be holding a disruptive protest at rush hour. We will me meeting at New Hampshire Ave and M St. NW at 4:30.  We are calling for people to “Occupy the Debates.” The anniversary of OWS is September 17th and opening the debates would be a good use of that anniversary. The people need to challenge the DC political elites who keep the debate closed so only big business views are heard.

Please share this announcement widely and urge people to attend if they are near DC  also urge them to share it widely so all activists near DC are aware of it.

We also urge people around the country to self-organize protests at media outlets to urge them to demand open debates and to stop the fraud of the deceptive debate commission. The debates will be shown on all network and cable news outlets.

And, we urge students and others near the venues of the debates to organize protests, write about the deceptive debate commission in local papers (including student papers), and pressure the president and board of trustees for open debates. Debates will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, Longwood University in Farmville, VA, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and University of Nevada in Las Vegas, NV. Universities in particular should be open to a wide variety of views not just the views of two parties funded by Wall Street and big business interests.

Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton could demand open debates. Donald Trump supported open debates in 2000 and exclaimed how it was amazing that this commission could keep people out of debates. Now, he seems to have joined the DC political elites and is manipulating democracy. In 2008 Hillary Clinton pushed for debates because of the importance of the office of the presidency. She too, is a debate manipulator. These two hated candidates do not want the voters to know there are more options. Instead they prefer to close the debates and shut out the voices of those who challenge them.

The debates impact every issue we care about. Many issues will not be on the agenda for these debates, among them are preventing escalation of wars, relieving students and millennials of the burden of unfair tuition debt, ensuring healthcare for everyone in an improved Medicare for all program, breaking up the big banks, and transforming to a green economy with a major jobs programs. These issues among others will not be debated if we only hear from two Wall Street parties.

It is time for all of us to unite and demand inclusive debate as a step toward creating a real democracy and ending the manipulation of the elites.

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Kevin Zeese is an organizer at Popular Resistance.

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