Tuesday, October 16, 2012

An October glimpse of an American spring? - Part II

Title notwithstanding, I did not plan to write this piece.

On October 5, I wrote about how third-party candidates have been squeezed out of the presidential and vice-presidential debates since the League of Women Voters stopped sponsoring them in 1988. The League dropped its sponsorship in protest against an agreement between the George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis campaigns that the League felt made the debates a fraud.

I have not yet seen that agreement, so I can't compare it to the current memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns.

With tonight's presidential debate, the pattern of exclusion continues. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson was denied participation.

But what made me start typing was this: this afternoon, the arrest of Green Party presidential nominees Jill Stein was arrested, along with her running mate Cheri Honkala, as they sought to enter the debate grounds.

Actually, the police refused them entry, then arrested them for blocking traffic when they sat down...




It's an incredibly minor thing - two women sitting in the street and then getting carried off by police - except that...them being carried off means that the American people will not get to hear a presidential candidate tonight who, by the party's count, will appear on 85% of the ballots on election day.

That candidate's name, "Jill Stein," will appear, and the vast majority of Americans will never have heard of her, or of her running mate, "Cheri Honkala" They will have no idea what ideas these women offer, and thus no idea of whether or not they agree with them.

In a better-functioning America, the debates would give candidates who are not able to spend half a billion dollars the opportunity to be heard by the American people.

That's in a better-functioning America. But since we aren't in that America, what's a voter to do?

Well, after all of the hoopla has died down from tonight's debate, and from the one on October 22, this voter is going to head over to the Free & Equal Elections Foundation website on October 23, for a presidential debate between FOUR third-party candidates. The event will stream live beginning at 9 pm EDT.

I plan to do that not just because any candidate who makes it onto the ballot in most of the country deserves to be heard. I'm doing it because I deserve to hear them. I deserve to decide whether I think they're brilliant or nuts. I deserve that choice.

And so do you.
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