Saturday, October 09, 2004

Debate Depression

I watched last nights presidential debate and once again found myself feeling ripped off. I have once again felt that the American people are given too few choices, or rather just two choices. In the supposed land of plenty we have a lack of plenty of presidential candidates.

A recent Zogby poll of likely voters revealed that 57% want to see "other candidates" included in the presidential debates. Americans approve of more candidates and can't get what a majority would like. And we call this democracy?

There are several candidates who have worked hard to get qualified on enough state ballots and theoretically could collect enough electoral college votes to win the presidency. The two major parties and their candidates of course are given a free pass into the debates, no surprise as the two parties control the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).

The other candidates who are on enough state ballots and were absolutely not invited to the debates were, independent Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate David Cobb, Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik.

Two of these candidates were in St. Louis and tried to enter the debates by passing through police barricades and were arrrested. Cobb and Badnarik proved that democracy is a joke in our country, reminding us of 2000 when Nader was physically denied access to a debate. These candidates represent the majority in our country, the 57% that want more candidates in these debates. The two party controlled CPD and the police that protect their monopoly represent the minority.

Go to any of these candidates websites and you will see that they offer many differences that are not given a chance to be heard. Approximately 50% of the country now thinks that the war in Iraq is a mistake. John Kerry of the two major candidates may be saying that it is a mistake but he has really only offered a solution of continuing the war. Several of the uninvited candidates offer withdrawal as their viewpoint.

Did we hear one word about poverty in America in last nights debate? No. We heard alot about the rich and the middle class, but not the poor. Did we hear about corporate crime? No. Did we hear about election fraud and voter disenfranchisement? No.

Consider some of the latest news stories left unspoken in the debate. The lack of available flu shots for Americans for this coming season. The continuing saga of corruption at Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac. In recent weeks there have been two stories about aborted plans of school shootings. The case of the prescription drug Vioxx allowed on the market despite studies that showed increases in heart attacks and cardiac deaths. Record highs in oil prices. The possible jailing of reporters in the Valerie Plame investigation. Alledged faked inspections at NASA. Some of these stories are life and death matters to Americans right here at home.

Not only do we get only two choices of candidates and their opinions which in plenty of cases were much more similar than the two candidates make it appear, but we get limited subjects to debate about. Reading over the other candidates websites you can bet that they would offer other ideas and other subjects as well. You hear the expression "the marketplace of ideas" all the time. In our political election system that marketplace is nearly devoid of ideas.

Americans don't have to sit back and stand for only two choices of candidates. We can reject them and vote for the other candidates to prove we don't all believe in the monopoly political system. If you are left minded there is Nader or Cobb and if you are right leaning there is Badnarik or Peroutka. As well these candidates can offer cross appeal on certain issues, many of their viewpoints are actually wanted by the majority of Americans but those views are not even discussed by the two major parties.

I ask people to search your souls. Have you really investigated ALL the candidates running for president? Do you really believe our democracy is being served when we only see two candidates? Do you really feel liberated being told to vote for one of two people? Do you ever expect that this will change if each of us individually continue to vote they way we are told to vote?

The more votes these other candidates receive the more likely that someday in the future that they (or their party) may get that debate opportunity. They won't win this years election, but the idea is that we lose the battle but eventually win the war for democracy. This is free speech, the right to assemble, open democracy, this is our most basic right in the free country we should always be fighting for. This is a fight without weapons but with something easy, a vote.

Just as much as the voter issues of the right to vote and that our votes will be counted, we have the flip side for candidates, the right to ballot access and the right to be a part of the democratic process in public debates.

So who won last nights debate? Isn't that the question we are told to answer by the media? The true answer is that the American people lost. Certainly at least 57% felt that the other candidates should have been there. We know that two of them were arrested for trying to attend. We are worried about democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan? We have democracy worries right here at home.


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