Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Save 'genuine' presidential debates

Here are two paragraphs from the following opinion article:

Save 'genuine' presidential debates
By George Farah

WASHINGTON – Since 1988, the general election presidential debates have been controlled by a private corporation - the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) - that has deceptively served the interests of the Republican and Democratic parties at the expense of the American people. And for the first time in 16 years, there is a vigorous, organized effort to return control of the presidential debates to a genuinely nonpartisan champion of voter education.

The consequences of such deceptive major-party control are predictable and distressing. Candidates that voters want to see are often excluded from the general election presidential debates, such as Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Pat Buchanan. Issues the American people want to hear about - such as free trade, government waste, child poverty, and immigration - are often ignored. And the debates have been reduced to a series of glorified bipartisan news conferences, in which the Republican and Democratic candidates merely recite prepackaged soundbites to fit 90-second response slots. Walter Cronkite, who served as a panelist for a 1960 presidential debate, called the CPD-sponsored debates an "unconscionable fraud" and accused the major party candidates of "sabotaging the electoral process." Accordingly, debate viewership has plummeted; 25 million fewer people watched the 2000 presidential debates than watched the 1992 presidential debates.


Gwenmand said...

There will be three televised debates this fall, and right now only Bush and Kerry will be allowed to participate. Without Ralph Nader's
inclusion, the critical issues facing our country - including the war in Iraq - will not be fully discussed. A new campaign has formed to insist that Nader be allowed to debate. Democrats, Republicans and Independents who favor democracy over partisanship are signing an open letter to President Bush asking him to use his political clout to ensure that
Nader is included.

This campaign is not about who you will vote for, it’s about how (and whether) we can talk to each other about the critical issues facing our nation. National elections are supposed to be the process by which we deliberate over the issues facing our nation. Shutting down that deliberation, whether in the name of “unity” as at the Democratic Convention where 9 out of 10 delegates opposed the war but were pressured to embrace a pro-war candidate, or “patriotic duty” as is likely at the upcoming Republican Convention, has a chilling effect on the capacity of American’s to listen, learn, deliberate, argue, oppose, and debate.

Dr. Lenora Fulani, founder of Let Nader Debate, put it this way:

“25% of African Americans consider themselves independents, not Democrats, according to the most recent surveys. Among 18 to 29 year old African Americans, the number climbs to 35%. One major reason for disaffection with the Democratic Party is that it has moved increasingly to the right and allowed conservative Republicanism to set its political agenda. Black voters are now marginalized, but we are still expected to be a loyal voting constituency for the Democrats. While that might benefit the CBC and other black Democrats like Reverend Al Sharpton, it does precious little to advance the condition of black people in America. The question of whether black voters should remain blindly loyal to the Democratic Party in the face of this history and Mr. Kerry’s spotty (at best!) record with respect to issues of concern to us, is a serious one. I intend to work hard to make sure that we address that question during this campaign. I am supporting Ralph Nader’s candidacy because I believe he is the best candidate, and not only because his political positions express our interests. The fact that he is running as an independent and that his candidacy galvanizes a progressive independent political movement that is an alternative to weak-kneed conscienceless Democrats, makes him the best hope for creating something of value for black people in this election.

Please sign the letter today at and send an email to everyone you know asking them to do the same!


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