Whose party are we spoiling?

Jan Baughman reflects in Swans Commentary that “as the 2008 presidential election antics evolve, the third-party candidates (Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr, and others) remain virtually nonexistent as far as the mainstream media coverage is concerned.”

A key to keeping third-party candidates invisible, he notes, are the debates that are rigged in favor of the Republican-Democrat duopoly. Baughman gives us this background:

...recall the televised presidential debates of yore, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. To their acclaim, in 1987 the LWV withdrew its sponsorship in protest of the restrictive conditions placed on them by the two main parties; to our detriment, the Republican and Democratic Party leaders usurped the debates and formed a corporate-funded “Commission on Presidential Debates” headed by Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., former chair of the Republican Party and Paul Cook, Jr., former chair of the Democratic Party, guaranteed to keep all “fringe” candidates out of the public eye so that they cannot raise issues contrary to the elites’ agenda and have the opportunity to increase their popular support through exposure in the mainstream media. Ross Perot was the last Independent candidate included in the debates (1992). In 2000 the two main parties set rules that would limit access to the debates to candidates with greater than 15% support, a number that is intentionally daunting to achieve without press coverage. You see the patterns that connect.

3 Responses to “Whose party are we spoiling?”

  1. Anti-Corporate Says:

    This year presents much better opportunities for Barr and Nader to get into debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) only puts together a small number of debates, but there is a lot of interest among candidates and the public to have more. According to Rasmussen Reports, 77% of people like McCain’s idea of having 10+ town hall style debates. These town hall debates would not be controlled by the CPD and thus could include more than McCain and Obama.

    With respect to getting into the debates, the presence of Bob Barr in the race could help Nader and vice versa. For one thing, since both of them are trying to get into the debates, that doubles the pressure to make the debates more inclusive. For another thing, Republicans who see Barr as a potential spoiler, will be motivated include Nader; and Democrats who are worried about Nader would be motivated to include Barr. Arguing for the inclusion of both Barr and Nader also makes it seem that the demand for inclusive debates is principled, rather than just in the interest of a single candidate.

    And if the major party candidates don’t play ball, Barr and Nader should debate one-on-one. If a debate like that (which could be moderated by Jesse Ventura and/or Mike Gravel) attracts a lot of attention and interest, that increases the pressure to put Barr and Nader in debates with McCain and Obama.

    Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich were both unfairly excluded from debates during the primary season. Now, Ron Paul’s new organization should put together a debate between Bob Barr and Ralph Nader, both of whom are trying to earn the support of Ron Paul’s supporters.

  2. Open Letter From Don Lake Says:

    Jan: Thx for the essay, as now republished on [email protected]…......

  3. disinter Says:

    A key to keeping third-party candidates invisible, he notes, are the debates that are rigged in favor of the Republican-Democrat duopoly.

    But the barfers have been claiming all along that the reason it was good to nominate a statist like barf was that he would get into the debates…

    Barfers, where are you now?

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