As you probably know, the Naderites are agitating to get Nader included in the presidential debates this year. (See http://www.letnaderdebate.org/blog_landing.asp.)
Now, I’m not voting for Nader this year, I’m voting for Kerry, because our voting system is what it is, for now, and I don’t want to risk another four years of Bush. Anything but that.
On the other hand, I am generally in favor of opening up our political system to third parties. (See my current GD thread, "A multiparty system is better than a two-party system! – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=269169.) And letting the third-party and independent candidates join in the presidential debates, if nothing else, would remind the public that there are more than two parties out there, and would give them a wider range of viewpoints to think about.
So, I conceived of a compromise solution. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which is in charge of all this, has scheduled four debates:
First presidential debate:
Thursday, September 30
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL
Vice presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 5
Case Western Reserve University
Second presidential debate:
Friday, October 8
in St. Louis
Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 13
Arizona State University
Why not let Nader, as well as the presidential candidates of the Green Party, Socialist Party, Libertarian Party and Constitution Party (I think those are the only third parties running presidential candidates this year) participate in the first debate only? And then let the remaining three be strictly Kerry-Bush, Edwards-Cheney. That gives the minor candidates a chance to be heard and speak their piece to a national audience, without throwing too much third-party distraction into this campaign season.
Reasonable idea, right? Something the CPD should at least consider if a civic-minded citizen suggests it.
So I went to the CPD’s website at http://www.debates.org/, intending to send them an e-mail . . .
And there’s no way to contact them!
No e-mail webform, no e-mail address, no snail-mail address!
The site doesn’t even say who are the members of this Commission!
There is a phone number for people who want to set up a local debate or a debate-watching party – (202) 872-1020. But it’s answered only by a machine. I called last week and left a message (explaining carefully that I was looking for contact information – which might have been my mistake), and nobody’s gotten back to me.
There is a “Media” button – click on it and it takes you to a page where you have to log in with a password. “If you are a media representative and wish to obtain a user name and password, please notify your CPD media contact.” Apparently the CPD is willing to communicate with accredited journalists, but not with ordinary citizens.
I did a search through verizon.com and found the following listing:
Commission On Presidental Debates
1200 New Hampshire Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20036
Same phone number I already had. I sent an e-mail – no response. Under the circumstances I don’t think I’ll waste time on a snail-mail letter.
I called the LetNaderDebate people (212-609-2800) – I got a live person there, but, would you believe it? Even they don’t know how to contact the CPD! They’ve sued them several times in the past but the papers always had to pass through lawyers.
What the fuck is going on here? Who do these people think they’re working for?