Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Monopolizing the Debates

Soon most of the country will be watching the debates.  To be told that you will be watching the ‘debates’ is an insult to your intelligence.  They’re not forums to inform and enlighten the electorate, but spectacles where the candidates preen and pander to the viewers;  political performances to showcase the triumph of form over substance.  I was wondering why they are even called debates instead of grudge matches?  This year features two of the most unlikable wrestlers, I mean candidates, in history.  In this corner we have Donald “The Demagogue” Trump and in the other corner we have Hillary “The Crusher” Clinton.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is a non-profit, tax exempt organization.  In their mission statement they talk about providing: “the best possible information to viewers and listeners” and how voter education is one of their goals.  Any person reading this might think that the CPD is just another charitable organization demonstrating their altruism. Nothing could be further from the truth!  Even though the CPD claims to be independent of the two major parties, their past and present leadership consists of democratic and republican politicians (with an occasional media acolyte).  Because none of the members is a current office holder, the CPD likes to claim they are non-partisan. As the Libertarian SuperPAC claims in their open letter to the CPD:  “Bi-partisan is not the same as non-partisan”.  The debates always did highlight the two duopoly candidates, but the CPD seeks to make sure any non-duopoly candidates with a different point of view aren’t heard.

Throughout the years, the number of debates has varied between two and four.  Recently the CPD has settled on four debates, with one of them between the vice-presidential candidates, but it’s their  decision to limit the debates to candidates with over 15% in the polls that has drawn scrutiny.  They initiated this 15% threshold to be included in the debates in 2000.  In the hundred years before this decision, there were some presidential candidates who received less than 15% of the vote, yet won votes in the electoral college.  That hasn’t happened in almost 50 years, thanks in large part to duopoly members controlling who is in the debates.

The CPD gives the reason for the 15% threshold is the amount of candidates running for president.  While it’s true the logistics would be hard to overcome if everyone was included, the 15% threshold is equally absurd.  The candidates must receive 15%  in 5 polls taken weeks before the election.  Polls are often wrong and ones taken weeks before the election don’t always predict the winner.  Many candidates aren’t even on enough state ballots to win the election.  Some are, yet they aren’t included in the debates because of this threshold.   Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in all 50 states  and Jill Stein of the Green Party is on the ballot in 44 states.

The CPD claims that candidate who don’t reach this 15% threshold enjoy:  “only very modest levels of public support” and 15% is about 32 million registered voters.  Even a third of this number is over 10 million voters and this is not modest support.   Among other reasons given by the CPD for the 15% threshold is; that inclusion of candidates in the debates who don’t meet the 15% would jeopardize “the voter education purpose of the debates”.  Exclusion of ideas that differ from your own isn’t part of the education process, unless you consider mind control via media manipulation to be educational.

The League of Women Voters used to sponsor the debates, when they withdrew their sponsorship, they said that they refused to:  “help perpetrate a fraud”  and fraud is exactly what the CPD is perpetrating.

If there is a numerical limit candidates need to reach in the polls to be included in the debates, shouldn’t there also be a numerical limit in unfavorable ratings to be excluded from the debates?  If candidates reach a certain level of unfavorable ratings, why should they be included in the debates?  Both major parties have candidates with historically high disapproval ratings, yet they will both be in the debates.  The televised debates should include both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, this would give the American public a real discussion of the issues and not just regurgitated duopoly talking points.

I think the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, has the best polices to become president.  Duopoly members and their apologists will tell you she’s just a spoiler, but no candidate is a spoiler, besides the duopoly uses the same argument EVERY election, no matter who the candidate is.  Stop listening to bogus duopoly arguments, think for yourself!  Jill Stein has said:  “Forget the lesser evil, stand up and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it – because they do”.

 

More articles by:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail