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Open the Debates

Posted on Oct 8, 2008

By Amy Goodman

  The reviews are in, and the latest U.S. presidential debate, the “town hall” from Nashville, Tenn., was a snore. One problem is that in a debate it is important for the debaters to actually disagree. Yet Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain substantively agree on many issues. That is one major reason that the debates should be open, and that major third-party or independent candidates should be included.

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  Take the global financial meltdown. Both senators voted for the controversial bailout bill that first failed in the U.S. House of Representatives. It passed resoundingly in the Senate and, larded with financial favors to woo uncooperative House members, finally passed the House. The news each day suggests that the bailout hasn’t solved the problem. Rather, the economic contagion is going global, with European and Asian banks teetering on the brink of collapse. Iceland—not just its banks, but the country—faces financial ruin.

  Earlier Tuesday, before the debate, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that it would for the first time ever begin buying up the debt of private companies to help them meet short-term cash needs for things like payroll. Shortly after the debate ended, major central banks around the world, again for the first time ever, cut their prime lending rates in unison. Yet on the debate floor, there was no sense that the global financial system needed more than a tax cut here, a voucher there. The major thing lacking from the debate was, well, debate.

  Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, reacted to the debate, writing: “Sen. McCain, Sen. Barack Obama and the other members of Congress who have supported one bailout after another have turned fiscal responsibility into a sucker’s game. ... There’s no meaningful difference between the two major parties.” The independent campaign of Ralph Nader put out a debate-watching e-mail, asking supporters to listen for key words and phrases, among them: “working class,” “Taft-Hartley Act,” “labor unions,” “military-industrial complex,” “single-payer health care,” “impeachment,” “carbon tax” and “corporate power.” None of these was mentioned.

  Obama supporters noted that McCain did not mention “middle class” once. Yet neither candidate mentioned poverty.


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  Obama and McCain fought to prove who was more sympathetic to the nuclear-power industry. They each bowed to the coal industry, with its controversial “clean coal” gambit. They split hairs over who would more cagily bomb Pakistan.

  At the core of the problem with U.S. presidential debates is that they are run by a private corporation, the Commission on Presidential Debates, founded in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic parties. The CPD took over the debate process from the League of Women Voters. Just once since then has a third-party candidate made it into the debate—Ross Perot in 1992. After he did well, he was excluded in 1996. The CPD requires contenders to poll at 15 percent before they qualify for any debate.

  Nader calls the 15 percent threshold “a Catch-22 level of support that is almost impossible for any third-party candidate to reach without first getting in the debates.”

  George Farah directs Open Debates, a group that works “to ensure that the presidential debates serve the American people first.” He told me that “historically, it has been third parties, not the major parties, that have supported and are responsible for the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, public schools, public power, unemployment compensation, minimum wage, child labor laws. The list goes on and on. The two parties fail to address a particular issue; a third party rises up, and it’s supported by tens of millions of Americans, forcing the Republican and Democratic parties to co-opt that issue, or the third party rises and succeeds, which is why the Republican Party jumped from being a third party to being a major party of the United States of America.”

  There is a move to organize a third-party debate, in New York City, a day or so after the final McCain-Obama debate on Oct. 15. The CPD could still liven its last debate, and serve the electorate and history, by opening up that debate to all candidates who have at least obtained significant ballot access. Both Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are on the ballot in close to 45 states, Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party is on the ballot in 30 states, and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin is on in more than 35 states. Let’s open the debates and have a vigorous and honest discussion about where this country needs to go. It will not only make for better television, it will make for better democracy.
  Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

  © 2008 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By WSmart, October 12, 2008 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

Simon says, grieve!

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By Max Shields, October 11, 2008 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

cyrena, Obama gave a speech when he was a state senator. That speech was given to mostly constituency who were against the plans to invade. Some leadership there.

As far as what he’s done since, the record is clear and his record on the substantive issues do not differ from his “opponent”. The two party system is the establishment system and the candidates are therefore establishment candidates. And one and one are still two - and maybe no one here has noted that, but it is what it is.

Here are a handful of the establishment candidates positions (twiddle dee/dumb):

On energy - both agree - nuclear, “clean” moronic coal, off-shore drilling, alternatives in the mix.
War on terror - both agree that we are at war with a thing called terrorism - great use of what’s left of the resourses and the continued illegality and morality of it all.
Iraq - both agree that we will have troops in Iraq for an indefinite period of time.
Iran - both are willing to wage war with Iran
Israel - both agree that the US military is at the disposal of Israel if she is “threatened”
Afghanistan - both agree that we should up the ante with military force in Afghanistan
Pakistan - this is less clear on the part of McCain, but Obama has indicated he wants to kill Osama Bin Ladin and will invade Pakistan to do just that because they “want to kill Americans” (he’s using a Cheney quote).
Death penalty - both support it’s continued use (as opposed to all other Western nations which have outlawed it.
Healthcare - both agree that it should continue to be privatized and run by insurance companies. Neither provide a plan that assures that all Ameicans will be covered unlike all other Western nations, including most Eastern countries.
Patriot Act - both voted for it.
Wall Street Bail out - both voted for it.
Free Market - both agree and have hawkish neoliberal advisors.
Poverty - neither offer a position on American poverty
Penal System - neither address the fact that we have the largest rate of incarceration (nearly 2 million) in the world; mostly people of color.
World view - Both agree that America is an exceptional nation who should intervene in the world based on the POTUS sense of how and when (military force is on the table) without regard to national security.
Corporate campaign funding - McCain co-sponsored weak legislation; nothing from Obama. Both say they will clean up and both fund their campaigns are bankrolled by large corporate donars.

This list could go on cyrena. Nuance is a tactic used by dubious politicians who think the American voter is too stupid to see there is no real difference. In this case, it is probably because Bush has so beaten many into submission. Anything but another Repub has more to do with Obama’s apparent appeal than real substanative change. He’s clueless about the economy, but he’s not a Republican.

Only Nader provides a substantive alternatives to these - at least from a progressive view.

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By cyrena, October 11, 2008 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

To cyrena who thinks that repeating a falsehood enough times will make it a truth: The facts are clear that Nader did not effect either election.

This is about millions of Americans who after listening to both candidates, and as Amy indicates and she stops short of comprehensively listing all the cases, discover there is NO difference between either candidate on the most substantive issues facing this country and the world.



Get your shit and your parties right, (who said what and when and the context) before you start hyping off. In this case, (and I’m not going to do your work for you) ITW is the one who suggested that Nader jacked things up for Gore in Florida. I haven’t mentioned it, though if we wanted to really be honest about it, we’d have to remember that Al Gore did win the popular vote, and ONLY in a system as jacked up as the one that we have here, could a moron like George Bush have taken the office after losing the election., end of story.

As for the difference between the cadidates on substantive issues, I notice that you don’t just ‘stop short’...YOU don’t mention them at all. WHAT ‘substantive’ issues????? 

Like how about Iraq…might that be ‘substantive’ enough for you? We’ve lost countless lives, and killed millions of people in another sovereign nation state, and spent trillions of dollars on an illegal war that John McCain not only wanted and approved of at the time, but wants to CONTINUE.

Let’s compare that to the other so-called ‘establishment’ (your words not anyone else’s) who opposed the thing from the beginning, in part because he knew it was not only ILLEGAL (international law made it so) but IMMORAL, and that Saddam Hussein was not a threat and had no ties to al-Qaeda or the events of 9/11. Those are all FACTS, and not the bullshit rhetoric that you repeat over and over, thinking that you can make it so.

Is that colossal disaster ‘substantive’ enough for you Max, or do you need more? I suspect that you need far more help in determining the difference between substance and bullshit rhetorical talking points, because you’ve yet to ever post anything on this site that goes beyond the talking point rhetoric.

And, you aren’t even smart enough to limit it to those who might be fooled by it. You would do well to avoid me like a criminal avoids the police, because I already know what you’re about, and the con artist that you are. I know that you can’t defend a single concept or ideology that you post here, and especially the mantra that you’ve picked up from Nader, in that there is no difference between the candidates. So, if Nader tells you to swallow a pint of arsenic because it’s not ‘substatially’ different from water, you’ll do it, right?

Let’s have an exercise here if you’re up to it Max. DEFINE ‘establishment’. Tell me how McCain and Obama are ‘establishment’ and Nader is not. Explain to me specifically, the differences between Barak Obama and Nader, in terms of ‘establishment’ and sorry, you’ll have to leave political party names out of it.

But, YOU can cheat (since you will anyway) and copy and paste from the Wikipedia entry on Nader. Let me give you a clue to what to look for. He’s described there as a lawyer, human rights advocate, author, lecturer, teacher/professor (I think history/government) and of course we know that he’s a Harvard graduate as well. Wanna compare that to Obama who is a lawyer, human rights advocate, author, lecturer, teacher/professor (Constitutional Law which requires an extensive knowledge of history and the workings of the US government) and a Harvard graduate, (Summa Cum Laude). Oh my….no differences yet, but I’m sure you can find some. 

Clearly Ralph Nader would be a far better KING than Little King George, but a KING none-the-less. Our Constitutional system wasn’t set up to accommodate KINGS.

That’s one of the substantive differences you’ll find between Nader and Obama.

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By A lost cause, October 11, 2008 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit the wind.

Nader got 97,000 votes in Florida in 2004. 250,000 Democrats in Florida voted for Bush. So please stop your whining about Nader being the culprit in Gore losing the election.The inconvenient truth is that people in this country of ours are a bunch of idiots who go and vote in the same manner they support they favorite sports team ” Good or Bad”.They vote the personalty, the fluff the empty HYPE RETHORIC surrounding it! OBAMA’S CHANGE! WHAT CHANGE?  instead of focusing on the issues they either do not understand grab or care. Even ,if it touches them personnaly, they vote against their own interest!  You can be tricked once by moron like Bush and Co.. but twice…! tells you what kind of peole we are… We get what we deserve because it reflects what we are as a nation! “Bird of a feather flock together” or morons sticks with morons and smart people stick with smart ones! So please again stop blaming Nader who has been telling the truth. But we do not vote for people telling the truth , because we condone lies and /or do not want to see those lies as long as it benefit us, and in that case we do not like people exposing the truth of what we actually are, consciensly and/or unconsciensly. When Kucinich tells us we went to Irak to steal their oil, we ignore him, because we are OK with stealing other people property that we think belong to us of cours’“What’s our oil doing under their sand!”  We are a nation of phony dishonest folks.In my professional life I see it all the times. If I make a mistake to someone advantage. I do not hear about it! but when I do it to their disadvantage… I do hear about it.

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By Max Shields, October 11, 2008 at 6:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would be very interested to have the “referenced” section of the US Constitution that prohibits or explicitly makes impossible 3rd Parties posted ITW.

The electoral college is a relic not intended to keep any number of candidates off the ballot, as dysfunctional as it is.

That said it is quite evident that the US Constitution makes absolutely NO mention of ANY parties, let alone the number.

To cyrena who thinks that repeating a falsehood enough times will make it a truth: The facts are clear that Nader did not effect either election.

This is about millions of Americans who after listening to both candidates, and as Amy indicates and she stops short of comprehensively listing all the cases, discover there is NO difference between either candidate on the most substantive issues facing this country and the world.

Both Parties are on the very same page. The only thing that separates Obama from McCain are the supporters of each candidate who seem incapable of stepping outside the meaningless “mudslinging” to assess the policy advocacy of these two establishment party candidates.

The lack of a “dimes worth of difference” that Nader mentioned in 2000 has diminished to NO difference. Nader spoke to the critical progressive differences between two candidates. One (Gore) had already demonstrated a propensity to go to war and immerse himself in corporate money. The other had yet to be challenged by a vote for war, but certainly had the corporate ties - that was in 2000. I think from the rhetoric back then that there was literally not a dimes worth of difference; and while Iraq is a criminal and immoral brutal invasion, so isn’t the invasion of Afganistan, Somolia and the Balkans all invasions which Gore has had no problem in supporting.

So, from a Nader perspective, a truly progressive perspective, there was little more than a dime’s worth of difference and there is even less now between Obama and McCain.

At bottom, we’re talking about a conscious maturity level which blinds Dem/Obamaites have yet to reach. If there was any hope of making the Dems a progressive party (I don’t think there is) it would be to have their better half - Nader - on the stage, debating and forcing whatever “progressive” tendencies may exist in that party and their candidate to manifest itself.

cyrena it’s called democracy. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when it happens…and so far it’s totally missing in this and decades previously. Hence endless wars and trumped up economics supported by Repubs and Dems alike.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 11, 2008 at 5:45 am Link to this comment

cyrena, October 11 at 12:40 am #

I’m with you Inherit. I’m truly sick of the whining about debates and 3rd party candidates that has NEVER happened before a black person made it this far. Where were all of these compliners in 2000 and 2004, when they sucked up to the worst fascists in the history of this so-called nation?

Nah, they were out there whining in 2000 and 2004.  Don’t forget how Nader spoiled Gore’s chances in Florida saying “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties.”

Now, as we face the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression we have seen that there’s several trillion dollars worth of difference.  That’s a rough estimate of the TOTAL loss in wealth just since the crisis began—and it ALL traces back to George W. Bush and policies he implemented and stuck to starting in the summer of 2001.

Deregulation. Tax cuts. No-bid Contracts. Tougher bankruptcy laws-but only for individuals.  Jacksonian “Spoils System”. All Bush and GOP policies.

How many people have lost their homes, jobs and savings when Ralph could have stopped it.  Sure, he’s not the ONLY factor in Gore’s loss.  But when his own, personal actions could have made a difference and spared us this, he chose not to.

And since he has ALWAYS insisted on total innocence, I presume he WANTS to see this collapse.  He probably thinks it’s necessary and if some people get hurt? Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.  “Peoples’ Advocate”...Bah!

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By cyrena, October 11, 2008 at 1:40 am Link to this comment

I’m with you Inherit. I’m truly sick of the whining about debates and 3rd party candidates that has NEVER happened before a black person made it this far. Where were all of these compliners in 2000 and 2004, when they sucked up to the worst fascists in the history of this so-called nation?

Was anybody hollering for open debates and 3rd party candidates then? And why is everybody so ‘outdone’ that no one has heard of Ralph Nader, when he hasn’t bothered to put HIMSELF out there, and especially to those who’ve come of political age in the past five or 6 years?

Ralph Nader JUST MADE it to my own community last week. WTF does he expect? It’s like somebody who claims they’re searching hard for gainful employment, but nobody will give them a break or the time of day. And then when you ask them WHERE they applied, or WHO they talked to, you find out they haven’t left their house. They just assumed that all of the potential employers would come to them.

Yeah, right.

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By cyrena, October 11, 2008 at 1:38 am Link to this comment

•  “The independent campaign of Ralph Nader put out a debate-watching e-mail, asking supporters to listen for key words and phrases, among them: “working class,” “Taft-Hartley Act,” “labor unions,” “military-industrial complex,” “single-payer health care,” “impeachment,” “carbon tax” and “corporate power.” None of these was mentioned.”

Humm, I’m wondering if somebody can help me (I watched the debates, though I don’t have a transcript) understand how either of the candidates was going to include all of these terms if none of the questions involved any of these terms or concepts.

Now we can quibble about whether or not this exercise should be called a debate, or a Q & A, since questions were posed from the selected audience, as well as from the Internet. Who chose which questions to include? (like say from the Internet) Well, I was led to believe that Tom Brokaw chose them, just as Gwen Ifill did for the VP exercise, and Jim for the first one.

I could be wrong, (I’ll look for a transcript)but I think Barak Obama DID mention the military industrial complex, and older folks like Nader might have to get used to the idea that little distinction is made these days, (whether it should be or not) between the ‘working class’ and the ‘middle class’. (at least on the academic front). Obama has talked about the middle class enough for even the lowest of IQ’s to ‘get it’ by now, including in this debate. And, while I don’t remember him mentioning labor unions in this debate, he’s certainly spoken about them, (and his support for them, including the suit that he insisted be made by union labor for his Convention acceptance address) enough times in the past. How has Nader missed that, and I wonder now, if Amy has as well.

So again, we’re back to the questions. Which of the questions posed to the candidates would have led either one of them to mention the Taft-Harley Act? I would have to say ZERO, since unfortunately, there are probably a whole bunch of American voters (particularly first time ones) who don’t know what the hell the Taft-Harley Act is. (and I doubt McCain does either). Of course Obama could have explained it (in one of those one or two minute time periods) but then we’re back to him being ‘professortorial’ or not answering the question posed.

I don’t find that Obama and McCain agree on a lot of things at all, so I don’t know why Amy suggests that. As for the bombing of Pakistan, that’s a cheap shot that surprises me of Amy, since neither one of them suggested BOMBING Pakistan. McCain is into BOMBING Iran, and Obama has never suggested that ‘going after’ OBL and AQ would involve BOMBING Pakistan.

And why is Ralph Nader’s campaign being referred to as an “Independent Campaign” when he’s running on the Peace and Freedom Party Ticket?

I’ll be really glad when this is done, because the rhetoric has just gone totally overboard, even from those who don’t generally engage in it.

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By Max Shields, October 10, 2008 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I think the so-called presidential race is already cooked, if the Dems haven’t completely succeeded at scaring the living shit out of everyone (and they’ve brutally shutdown any openness to this election which is on par with anything that happened in 2000 and 2004 when they claim the Repubs stole the elections); than I think there is a possibility that Nader who is the only candidate on 45 State ballots and has kept the legal Dem jackasses at bay, may take a substantial number of votes.

It is only the fear factor that makes me hedge my bets and of course the fact that Nader has not been on a single debate. The real question of voter fraud may have more to what they do to Nader than anything that happens with the frick-frack Party.

The MSM still has us all by the short-hairs when it comes to free and open elections and the voices that make that whole thing possible.

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By WSmart, October 10, 2008 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

(written by W. Watts Biggers)

There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!

When criminals in this world appear
And break the laws that they should fear
And frighten all who see or hear
The cry goes up both far and near
For Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

When in this world the headlines read
Of those whose hearts are filled with greed
Who rob and steal from those who need
To right this wrong with blinding speed
Goes Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

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By Kevin Padfield, October 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The debate commission is a total farce.  If the former heads of the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys decided every year on the two teams that would play in the superbowl who do you think they would be?  The co-chairs of the debate commission are the former heads of the Republican and Democrat parties!  It needs to be turned over to an independant non-aligned organization.

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By MikeSchoch, October 10, 2008 at 8:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Amy Goodman, a clear and articulate progressive vision. Yes, we should at least open the debates.

The point made that third party candidates have been the agents of change historically is no mere trivia. Also, one should not be surprised. When those in the “club” are patting each other on the back while a majority of citizens are getting short-changed, something must be done OUTSIDE of the status quo. Is this not obvious?!

Yes, Ralph Nader, Bob Barr, or Cynthia McKinney probably won’t win this election, but as they constitute the sum of values and perspectives shared by most Americans, when the two major party candidates are instead distracted by big money interests, should we not support them anyway?

Barack Obama is a right-leaning Democrat who agrees with John McCain FAR too much. Actually, until he is elected we don’t know HOW right-leaning he is.

I get the feeling we are living in a country that does not understand politics or elections or how to get what we want. Let’s get 30 million of us together and take DC back. If the unemployment rate goes up any further, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

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By Paracelsus, October 9, 2008 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment

Amy is complaining about a system that was created by unelected men who met secretly to convene the Articles of Confederation, and then the Constitution. We are complaining about a system we had never been consulted in creating. Do you think a system that began with the Declaration of Independence, and yet hard coded slavery into government is designed to be fair in its evolution? This system has chaos, and oligarchy coded into it. Do you think a system that “elects” large numbers of men with blue blood lineages is somehow your government? What are the odds that most of our Presidents have mentions in Burke’s Peerage of noble blood lines. Even our beloved Obama has blood lines that are related to Dick Cheney. Do you think this is just an accident?

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By elizabethe, October 9, 2008 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

A vote for Nader is a Vote for Nader and the “Third Parties” are actually a potential majority, at 104 million voters registered either non-partisan in 24 states, to the tune of 82 million, and 21.3 million OTHER by choice in the 26 states that offer declaration of party when registering to vote.  There are 62 million in the combined two parties declaring either Democrat (36 million) or Republican (26 million), and they are only combined at 38% of the total voters nationally.

I urge the 104 outside to take that seriously and realize the BEST can win in the face of the powermongers claiming absolute tyranny against a majority.  No, I do not have to vote for Obama, 36 million out of 167 total million voters likely will vote for Obama, that leaves the rest of us, HUGE free choice to win and let McCain get his 26 million out of the 167 million, neither one will net a majority. 

90% of the voters in Cambridge, MA where there are a clear 51% declared outside the two parties, and only 36.8% democrats and 12.12% republicans, screamed, “he cannot win” we have a two party system.  At the time, I did not know the two party’s are a minority, including the Democrats in MA.  No way does any MA voter who is an Independent owe their vote to the status quo, the 51% should vote their truth, if what was screamed in 2004, “we have only two evil boxes, and we do not want bush!” if they believe that they must look at the numbers and do not dare take a 36 million and give the balance of 104 million to either of the evil boxes, vote for the best and let the best WIN.

I am.  I promise.

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By Juan Alvarez, October 9, 2008 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have a follow up to Peter J. Petrunich’s comment on news coverage, particularly regarding NPR. I have contacted them over 70 times to point out that misleading phrasing, inaccuracies, and their lack of coverage. They always said they’d provide fair coverage as the election went by and nothing. Finally I wrote them a long detailed letter saying that I would ask my local public radio station to stop broadcasting their shows. I contacted my local public radio and they are indeed concerned with this lack of integrity from NPR.  You should contact your local station as well, and maybe NPR will start to feel the pressure.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 9, 2008 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

All this futile whining is a pain in the butt!

The CPD was founded because the Dems and the GOP agreed that THEY TOGETHER wanted to control the debates, not some disinterested 3rd party only concerned with fairness, the League of Women Voters.

Unless you have a MECHANISM to force the 2 parties to open it up, you might as well keep your breath to cool your soup.  But get 30 million people behind you, and they’ll HAVE to listen.

The complaints about 3rd party lockouts really tick me off because the complainers never bother to understand how it came about, instead bitchin’ about lobbyists, corporate contributions and graft.

Now I don’t DEFEND our system as best, but I do understand that it’s the logical outcome of our Constitution and its structure.

The GOP was the last party to supplant an existing party, the Whigs.  The GOP was almost supplanted itself in 1912 by TR’s Progressive Party (the Bull Mooses).  The Democrats were almost supplanted in the late 1800’s by the Populist Party.  Instead the Dems absorbed them.

Following 1968, the GOP absorbed Wallace’s party.

Getting a 3rd party going without changing the Constitution is possible, but tough.  Changing the Constitution is tougher.

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By a lost cause, October 9, 2008 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Because people vote like they support their favorite sports team good or bad and in politics regardless of the issues they do not grab, understand or care , except if it touch them personnaly! Even there I am not convinced they will vote otherwise! In the end Democrats vote for Democrats, Republicains for Republicains,Blacks for Blacks, Women for women especially if they have beautiful white teeths (Palin) etc…
Peter Cameo of the Green Party participated in the debate for Governor here in California. He easily won that debate, but only only got 5% in the general election, People voted for Schwarzenegger ... a Celebrety!It is a lost cause.I am not going to waste my time voting fora popularity contest.

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By Juan Alvarez, October 9, 2008 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The website to pledge support for the debate mentioned by Amy Goodman that includes third-party and independent candidates is

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By John R, October 9, 2008 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That antiquated, idiotic “Electoral College” system of voting has also got to go.
Am I mistaken, but isn’t America the only country on this planet that a presidential candidate can win the popular vote, but lose the election.

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By Peter J. Petrunich, October 9, 2008 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Open debates? There will not be open debates until there is open and equal news coverage. While I am frustrated by the lack of concern for open debates that frustration pales by comparison to what I have for the lack of news coverage for the presidential candidates other than McObama. I am a regular NPR listened and I have lost all respect for that network, Terri Gross, Bill Moyers, etc.  They not only refuse to provide coverage of Ralph Nader’s and the other third-party candidates campaigns they always reference “both” presidential candidates, as if there were only two.  We are less than 30 days from the election and I continue to meet many people who are completely unaware that Ralph Nader’s name will be on their ballot. It was not that long ago that the “liberal press,” such as the New York Times, was falling all over itself apologizing for its failure to provide complete coverage of the issue prior to the Iraq war, yet here they are again committing the same sin of a free press with regard to the U.S. elections.  NPR continually brags about being a public supported network, but has sold its soul to the corporate powers and the two major parties. My suggestion is that everyone withhold there financial support for their local public radio and tv stations until their news coverage begins to live up to the image that they like to portray.  If you are a member of AARP write them a letter asking when they are going to start putting the information needs of their members ahead of their corporate sponsors.

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By Karin, October 9, 2008 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The absolutely only way we can get attention on this issue is to have people driving or, riding their bicycles down each street with loud speakers. Large signs on Highways. If the media will not help us, there are always other ways to get our message out there!
When I talk to the locals in my town endorsing McCain or, Obama I begin by asking them what they feel about Nader. Some actually say; “Who?”! Others call him a spoiler. While others heard of him but, are not sure what he has done for our country. They just do not read or, information gather on their own. Rather they listen/watch their tv’s while being brain washed into choosing (1) of (2).
You would be surprised as to how many people actually believe it is possible to burn “clean” coal. Or, that Obama would never agree to off shore drilling.
I feel incredibly threatened by the idea of having either (2) candidates; Obama or, McCain win. The ship will sink should they win! And, no one is going to throw a life vest unless you have enough money to bail yourself out.
The American people will loose. Than China will take over. You think I am joking? If America goes down how do you expect it to be a powerful country? It won’t! Another will step up to the plate! They have had 65+ years to get it right. Now look where we are…...

Open up the debates!

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By Robin, October 9, 2008 at 12:51 am Link to this comment
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At the core of the problem with U.S. presidential debates is that they are run by a private corporation, the Commission on Presidential Debates, founded in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic parties. The CPD took over the debate process from the League of Women Voters. Just once since then has a third-party candidate made it into the debate—Ross Perot in 1992. After he did well, he was excluded in 1996. The CPD requires contenders to poll at 15 percent before they qualify for any debate.

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By lichen, October 8, 2008 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

Yes, we need open debates, as well as a long list of other election reforms to break with the one party system.

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By Outraged, October 8, 2008 at 10:30 pm Link to this comment

Wow… has anyone else noticed the SILENCE concerning this issue.  Shhhh..hh….

This is a secret that I’m afraid can’t be tolerated.  Just ask the corporate candidates.  I’ve yet TO HEAR the actual outrage regarding the undemocratic premise of closed debates.

I’m afraid Amy you speak of the DEVIL.  The DEVIL himself would not endorse OPEN DEBATES.  Hmmmm…. tells ya somethin’ about who the devil is and who the devil ain’t… don’t it.

Now Amy, you ought not to speak ILL of the devil… since apparently…. truth be told… we are to give the devil his due… in fact, and then some…. like to the tune of $700 BILLION dollars.  But what am I thinkin’....  it was ALL FOR THE BEST…

We don’t want logic or reality to enter in to the debates….  where the hell would that get us…?  Goddamn…. you MUST be “out there” to EVEN think that the American People should have an option or a voice.  God Amy, apparently YOU ARE CRAZY, do you realize what this would MEAN…..

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By rawdawgbuffalo, October 8, 2008 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

truth be told until they obviate the

commodity futures modernization act

,  this will continue to happen

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By Z, October 8, 2008 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
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I wish this issue had more publicity. Oh well.

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By Laura Baran, October 8, 2008 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you, Amy Goodman & truthdig for the rational, honest call to open the debates. Beautifully succinct. I so appreciate ethical journalism.

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