James P. Gray: How debates hoodwink Americans

By James P. Gray (Ret.) - Orange County Register
Our America Initiative Honorary Board Member

For debates, it was the worst of times. When President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met for their three scheduled 2012 presidential election debates, there were many issues that neither of them wanted to discuss, and so mostly they didn’t. These included the failures of our present immigration system, policy of drug prohibition and the so-called Affordable Care Act, and the fact that many of our public schools are failing our children.

But it could have been the best of times. Had candidates from other mainstay political parties participated in the debates, all of those issues, and more, would have been addressed. That would have, in turn, pushed the positions of both Obama and Romney more out into the open, thus resulting in a better-informed electorate. So our country would have won. Only the two main political parties would have lost.

Why did this happen? The presidential debates are controlled by the Presidential Debates Commission, which is comprised entirely of high-ranking Republicans and Democrats. So they are the ones who decide which candidates will be invited to the debates. And, for purely selfish reasons, they rig the system so that invitations are extended only to the Republican and Democratic candidates.

The criterion the commission used in the 2012 election was that only political candidates who were polling at 15 percent of the votes in three national polls were invited to the debates. Of course, the reality is that virtually no candidates other than Republicans and Democrats are even listed in any national polls. So that guarantees the commission’s chosen and preordained result.

In years past, when the League of Women Voters controlled this process, the criterion was that any political party that was on the ballots in enough states technically to win the presidency would be included in the debates. Had this criterion been used in 2012, both the Libertarian and Green Party candidates would have been invited, since the Libertarians were on the ballots in 48 states, and the Greens in 40.

When it became apparent to the League of Women Voters that it was losing control of the commission to the Republicans and Democrats, it withdrew, saying that it would not be a part of the “hoodwinking of America.” We should take guidance from the League, stop being hoodwinked by the commission and, for the sake of our democracy, change the criterion back to what the League used.

At this time, a lawsuit is pending in Washington, D.C., brought by Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico and me, as the 2012 Libertarian candidates for president and vice president, against the Presidential Debates Commission and the Republican and Democratic National Committees. Both the Libertarian and Green Parties have also been invited to join it as plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges that the two of us should have been included in the 2012 debates because we actually met the commission’s criterion in independent polls we sponsored, and because the commission is wrongfully restraining commercial competition in violation of antitrust laws. What more important effect is there on the marketplace than who is elected president of the United States?

Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans want more choices. People are seeing that the two larger political parties are putting their own welfare ahead of the country’s, and people are rightfully fed up with it. With this lawsuit, we are doing something positive about this problem, and you can follow our progress at www.OurAmericaInitiative.com.

James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, the author of “A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems,” and the 2012 Libertarian candidate for vice president, along with Gov. Gary Johnson for president.

Read more

Do you like this post?

Showing 3 reactions

commented 2014-05-15 14:46:46 -0600 · Flag
Louisiana for OAI will be putting out information piecemeal for donations to the CPD lawsuit, writing CPD members, writing CPD sponsors, and writing pollsters to add 3rd Parties in their polls. We have to stay in the media. I am also getting with the Green and Independent Parties in Louisiana who had most of the requirements in 2012 met as well, but were kept out of the debates like the Libertarian Party.
Live Free Blog posted about James P. Gray: How debates hoodwink Americans on Live Free Blog 's Facebook page 2014-05-13 15:55:06 -0600
James P. Gray: How #debates hoodwink #Americans