Three debates are planned, the first on October 3. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which controls the debates, is determined that only Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be allowed in front of the microphones.
That's because the CPD is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties and the two parties' corporate funders. The CPD took over the debates to limit the stage to their own candidates and to make sure that no challenging questions get asked.
The League of Women Voters, which sponsored the debates before the CPD took over, has called this situation "a fraud on the American voter."
But we don't have to remain silent about this affront to democracy and fair elections.
Challenge the Commission on Presidential Debates!
Visit the 'Occupy the CPD!' web site
and sign on to the statement. 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 -- either 1% of the vote in a credible national poll or qualification for federal matching funds or both. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson meet all of these criteria.
Challenge the Media!
Tell TV and radio stations that Americans voters are not stupid, that our heads won't explode if we see more than two candidates or if we hear more than two sides (or even just one side, sometimes) on important issues.
Tell them that media organizations don't have to play by the CPD's rules, that 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.
Tell them that news broadcasts and talk shows should invite alternative party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson who express ideas that are outside of the narrow Democratic-Republican spectrum.
Challenge Progressive Organizations and Web Sites!
Any progressive, ecological, or antiwar web site, periodical, radio station, or organization or labor union that doesn't demand a real progressive voice -- Jill Stein -- in the presidential debates is engaging in self-censorship.
Too many of these groups are so married to the Democratic Party that they're willing to silence their own ideals by pretending that only Obama speaks for them.
Don't let them get away with this hypocrisy. Give them a piece of your mind, by writing letters and comments in response to their articles. Give them another piece of your mind when they come around asking for contributions.
Challenge the Polls!
The CPD has used results from public opinion polls that only ask questions about Democratic and Republican candidates and exclude other parties to justify its arbitrary debate policies. Such polls are misleading.
Stop believing the media hype and lies that we only have two choices on Election Day.
Stop believing nasty and dishonest political ads on TV and the radio, a result of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision (2010) that allows wealthy and powerful corporations to advertise without limit for their favored candidates.
Stop believing that American politics is limited to two parties, both of which accept millions in corporate contributions.
Stop believing that we can fix the economy, that we can fight global warming, that we can stop invading other countries by voting for either a pro-Wall Street pro-war Democrat or a pro-war pro-Wall Street Republican.
Start believing that you have the power to change the direction of our country!
"Obama has betrayed our hopes for change, but I'm worried that Romney might win." Many of us fear a Republican victory, but it's time to be afraid of the Democrats too.
Both parties keep moving further to the right. The result is more war, more redistribution of wealth from working people to the One Percent, more erosion of the Constitution, more disregard of global warming and other threats to our planet. This describes Obama as well as Romney.
We can keep rubberstamping the two-party status quo for the rest of history. Or we can build a strong pro-peace pro-environment party that supports working Americans and accepts no corporate money.
We can start by demanding a place in the debates for Green presidential nominee Jill Stein. We can be true to our democratic principles by demanding inclusion of all qualified presidential candidates, like Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, in the debates.
Democracy and fair elections mean the right to know which candidates best represent our ideals and interests -- and the right to vote without being told we only have two choices.
Challenge Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors!
Please forward this message widely so that we can build a movement for opening the debates that the CPD and the media can't ignore!
Scott McLarty has served as media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States and for the DC Statehood Green Party. He has had articles, guest columns, and book reviews published in Roll Call, CommonDreams.org, Z Magazine, Green Horizon, (more...