Is this the most bizarre Presidential election or what? If you’re not angry over what’s going on, WHY NOT? I’m not talking about anything specifically Democrat or Republican here. It’s more about the collusion of both parties to transform the debates and our elections.
It all began when the Democrats and Republicans conspired together to take the national Presidential candidate debates away from the non-partisan League of Women Voters. Both parties hated having their candidates surprised and embarrassed by tough and unexpected questions. Plus, there was the very real threat and looming danger of the rise of third party candidates. Remember Ross Perot beating the first George Bush in one of the primaries? That sent a shudder through both parties.
Once the Democrats and Republicans teamed up and wrested control of the debates away from the League of Women Voters, the debates were no longer debates. For one, all of the candidates now have the questions in advance. The candidates no longer debate in true debate format. Everything is now geared and timed to accommodate sound bite answers. There is no in-depth discussion of any issue. There is also very little real direct confrontation between the candidates.
OK; this is not absolutely current news. But look at what our complacency has allowed in this election:
For the first time in the history of the U. S. primaries, Democratic candidates (Dennis Kucinich & Mike Gravel) and a Republican candidate (Ron Paul) have been excluded from their own party’s televised debates.
For the first time in the history of the U. S. primaries, a viable candidate’s name was taken off one of the state’s primary election ballots (Dennis Kucinich in Texas)! Coalitions have been formed by the other Republican candidates to keep Ron Paul’s name off of ballots.
Never before have so many primary candidates been marginalized by the media. If you’ve watched TV and read newspapers over the past several months, you’d think there were only two Democratic primary candidates (did you know that Mike Gravel is still running?) and just three Republican primary choices (did you know that Ron Paul came in second in Nevada — beating John McCain — and has a chance of winning Maine? Did you know he is one of the most successful grassroots fundraisers in history and that he has raised more money on the internet than any of his Republican rivals?).
WHERE IS THE PUBLIC OUTRAGE?!!!
Whether or not you support either of these candidates, their highly individual voices and ideas still need to be a part of our national political conversation.
This is a very dangerous precedent. The 1992 Democratic primaries began with about eight candidates. Jerry Brown began at the bottom; he was often the butt of the other candidates’ jokes. Particularly amusing to them was his using this new thing called the Internet to raise funds. Internet Jerry — what a hoot! Well, Jerry nearly had the last laugh because when the smoke cleared and the dust had settled after the initial primary elections, there were two candidates left standing: Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown.
If this were to replay today, Brown would not have been allowed in the debates and attempts would have been made to get his name off of state ballots.
Activist Al Sharpton was in the 2004 Democratic Presidential primaries and their debates. It was clear from the start that he was not a truly viable candidate, but his original thinking and keen critical remarks cut through the thick fog of all the canned soundbites. Sharpton stimulated fresh thought and kept the other candidates on their toes. Something like that couldn’t happen during this election.
Please don’t allow this ideological rape and stifling of our democratic system to continue. Make yourself heard. Write your local newspapers and TV stations. Call your local talk show stations. Protest! Get attention!
Do your homework and find out what each of the candidates believes. Don’t settle for soundbites. Then, finally, Vote (demand paper ballots and a vote receipt where possible; we need that paper trail!). Hundreds of thousands of courageous Americans have died and shed their blood so that you could have this privilege.