Do you know to what extent the corporate-sponsored presidential debates are rigged via secret agreements between the Democrats and Republicans? George Farah, author of the book, “No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates,” does, and he’s ready to tell you.

“The gatekeepers to our election process are not nonpartisan entities like the League [of Women Voters], but partisan individuals with loyalties to the Republican and Democratic parties,” Farah told “Democracy Now!” hours before the first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season in Denver. “It stifles debate by design.”

Eighteen pro-democracy groups are calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates, the corporation that usurped the League of Women Voters as the sponsor of the presidential debates in the late ’80s, to reveal the details of the pact made between Republicans and Democrats that dictates which questions may be asked at the events and says third party candidates will not be included.

Farah, who is the founder and executive director of Open Debates, is optimistic that the two-party stranglehold on the debate process can be broken. His group and its supporters recently persuaded three out of 10 of the commission’s corporate sponsors to withdraw their support.

“This year, with the support of other organizations, one called ‘Help the Commission,’ an infusion of enthusiasm from third parties, including the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, for the first time ever, we actually have succeeded in achieving some tangible goals,” Farah said. “Not just one sponsor, but three of the 10 sponsors have withdrawn support — BBH, a British advertising agency; YWCA, a nonprofit; and, most importantly, Philips Electronics, a tech giant. Due to the extraordinary pressure that we have exerted on them they have said, ‘We will no longer be affiliated with an entity that is perceived correctly as being partisan and fundamentally anti-democratic.’ This is a triumph for the debate reform movement, and I hope, the beginning of unveiling the commission for what it truly is and displacing it.”

“The fact that three of the 10 sponsors of this election cycle withdrew their support is testimony to the fact that it is now becoming expensive to [be] too politically associated with the commission,” Farah continued. “If we can broaden that attack to not just include corporations, but actually the individual candidates, we’re gonna start to see some headway, we’re gonna start to break the commission’s monopoly.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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