Open the 2004 Presidential Debates

Hey gang,

In the face of the war in Iraq we may not yet be thinking of the next presidential election, but one of the biggest problems facing our country today is the lack of choice for Commander in Chief. I’m sure the majority of you know the history of the third party exclusions (the CPD’s 15% support, Ross Perot invited in 92 but not in 96, Ralph Nader’s stories) so I won’t spell it all out in gorey detail.

I heard an archived program of Democracy Now where Amy Goodman questions the CPD’s Janet Brown on their official take on the inclusion of third parties in the debates. During the conversation she claims that the CPD is collating the results of the call-in, fax-in, email-in and other communications from the general public to their offices related to allowing third party candidates into the debates.

The program was aired on August 31, 2000 and they have not yet released the results, nor have they made any attempts at changing their policy to reflect the public’s desire to hear the voices of other parties. I strongly feel that the time is now to act and invite her back to the show to discuss their findings and what the CPD will do differently in this election as a reaction to their findings.

This is the time to get this together, before the 2004 election’s rules are laid out (I believe they do so in January so time is running out). I have taken up emailing and writing newspapers, websites, and everyone else I can think of to drum up some noise about it. Anybody have any other ideas? What do you think about allowing viable third party candidates into the debates?


What always comes up is, “How are you gonna define ‘viable third party’?” Because every fringe group out there is gonna insist that they are TOO a “viable third party”. Number of registered members? Number of votes garnered in previous presidential elections? Loudest, most annoying voices (the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” phenomenon)? Biggest PR machine? Biggest war chest?

What we need are viable fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh…

I think viable would mean something like polling voters to see who they think should be included. I believe before the 2000 election voters polled 6o-some percent for Nader and 40- or 50-some for Buchannen. I don’t know if a majority would be necessary because obviously polls are never really accurate but it’s a good starting point. It should be all about what the people want, right? Not what the Democrat- and Republican-run Debate Commission thinks is right for the public.

I personally have ideas about a different sort of forum that could accommodate more candidates, perhaps a forum that is less a debate and more of a 15-30 minute showcase of each candidate?s specific stances. The moderator(s) could call them on their lies and, by the end of a 2-3 hour program, things could be outlined very clearly about where these folks stand.

Why not add selection of parties (for debates) to the presidential primary ballots?

We could at least add the libs and the greens.