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The Presidential Debates, Why 3rd Party Candidates Can't Get In

By       Message Dave Lefcourt     Permalink
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Now with the two major party conventions relegated to the dustbin of history, just what can we expect politically these next two months?

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Though maybe not on the radar for many in the U.S., the number one concern from here is, let's hope Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can somehow be kept on a leash and prevented from attacking Iran.

A so called "October surprise" is not out of the question. "Bibi" is no fan of Obama and is known to be friends with Romney, seeing the latter more ideologically closer and a knee jerk supporter of Israel no matter what horrific policies that country carries out. A surprise Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would force Obama's hand in support of the Israeli's even if he disagreed with them. So Israel's possible military action on Iran remains a potentially dangerous, major game changer in this election.

Of course the economy and the stagnant jobs picture remains the #1 domestic issue on most peoples minds and traditionally has hurt the incumbent up for re-election. Then again, Mitt Romney's former connection as CEO of Bain Capital as a venture capitalist and corporate raider which resulted in a net loss of jobs in their corporate takeovers doesn't exactly bode well for his being a job creator and helping him to win in November.

Then there are the 3 upcoming presidential debates that reportedly draw some 60 million viewers to these affairs. Yet what's most noteworthy about these debates (and I suspect little known to most viewers) is the event organizers that control and run the debates known as the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).

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The CPD began in 1987, after the League of Women Voters withdrew their previous sponsorship of the debates over the demands of the two major parties to control the debates structure and format which the League couldn't abide and believed was a danger to democracy. So in 1987, the two major parties came together to establish the way debates are run between the candidates for president. It was formed as a non profit corporation sponsored by private donations from foundations and corporations.

Though a non profit corporation, the CPD is solely controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. It is headed by Frank Fahrenkopf, the former head of the Republican National Committee and Paul Kirk, the former head of the Democratic National Committee. Under their "leadership" they set a rule that a party to the debates has to garner at least 15% support across 5 major polls.

Under this ruling no 3 rd party challengers have been able to meet this criteria and been permitted to take part in the presidential debates. Thus the American people get to see and hear ONLY the candidates of the two major parties.

That ruling prevented Ralph Nader from participating in these debates in 2000, 2004 and 2008. It presumably is preventing the likes of Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson from participating and presenting his views and ideas to the voting public.

Though Nader brought a federal lawsuit against the CPD, the court ultimately ruled that "third party challengers had failed to provide evidence that the CPD is controlled by the DNC or the RNC" and the CPD provided sufficient rationale for barring 3 rd party candidates from entering the debates.

That incredibly myopic court decision has allowed the CPD 15% support rules to remain in place all but guaranteeing the duopoly of a two party system precluding any serious challenge from a third party.      

With only the two major parties represented in these debates they become nothing more than choreographed charades and their candidates the only ones having a legitimate chance of winning in November.

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When one considers the ultimate policy decisions of the two major parties are essentially the same with their candidates campaigns funded by individual and corporate largesse who then control the political agenda to enact the laws, regulations, oversight and enforcement to their benefit, we continue to have a closed fixed system and made all the more insular by precluding any 3 rd party participation in the debates.      

The current presidential debate structure and control by the major political parties is a travesty of injustice and needs to be scrapped. The American people need to become better informed on the manipulated practices of the CPD and demand a presidential debate structure that allows participation by 3 rd party candidates.


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