October 18, 2016

cpd-image-4x6NOTE: While the actual election process of tabulating ballots is quite sound, the events leading up to Election Day are another matter entirely. The following op-ed commentary was submitted to the Star Tribune and MinnPost four weeks ago. Both media outlets failed to publish it, thus it is presented here.

The “Commission” on Presidential Debates is illegitimate

Many Americans are gaining a growing sense that our election process is “rigged”. But it’s no mere conspiracy theory. An example of this is being broadcast over nationwide TV.

When most people think of a debate, they envision a roundtable forum, give-and-take between the speakers, and all viewpoints being presented and considered. When most people see the Democratic and Republican candidates on the debate podium, they assume those candidates must be more serious or qualified than any who did not appear. But the public is not aware of what’s happened behind the scenes.

SL Malleck

Vice Chair S.L. Malleck

The Commission on Presidential Debates is not a “commission” at all, but an entity created by the DNC and RNC for the sole purpose of benefiting their own candidates. The League of Women Voters, a civic organization seeking to promote voter education, had previously hosted the debates. The LWV withdrew after the two old parties sought to shape the debates to present their candidates in the best possible light, including pre-approval of any questions asked, selecting the moderators, even approving people allowed into the audience. The LWV infamously stated that this “would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter” and that “the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity, and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

More importantly, the CPD was formed to prevent any alternative candidates from ever being heard by the public. The behind-the-scenes machinations racheted up in 2012, when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney signed an agreement between themselves to only debate each other, that neither could debate with any other candidate.

For over 20 years, the CPD has allowed only the two old-party candidates into their debates. When Ross Perot won 19% of the popular vote in 1992, and Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura was elected Governor with 37% of the vote in 1998 after three-way debates were televised statewide, the two old parties noticed. They imposed an arbitrary 15% polling barrier upon any future candidates. Under that threshold, neither Perot nor Ventura would’ve been heard by the public.

Why 15%? Why not 10%, 5%, or none at all? The 15% barrier is made-up out of thin air, chosen because it is impossible for any alternative presidential candidate to reach before being heard in the debates.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is on the ballot in 44 states plus DC. No other alternative candidate comes close to that level of ballot access. It takes hundreds of activists and tens of thousands of petition signers just to get onto the ballot in so many states. That’s tremendous nationwide support. Either candidate could obtain the electoral results to actually win the presidency. Both should’ve been allowed to debate and it’s wrong that they’re being censored by the corrupt CPD.

The CPD will not allow the public to hear from Johnson or Stein. Why should voters be prevented from hearing from qualified candidates who they will see on their ballot in November? Shouldn’t each voter be able to consider all viewpoints, then decide for themselves which candidate is the best choice?

The CPD was created not to encourage debate, but to restrict it. It’s no surprise that the CPD has decided, once again, to offer only their own two candidates.

Controlled by Democratic and Republican operatives, the so-called “Commission” on Presidential Debates is illegitimate. Voters should reject the rigged debates staged by the CPD. It’s time for a free and open political process. It’s time to get rid of the made-up 15% threshold, the backroom deals, and the CPD itself. It’s time to restore the debates to a truly nonpartisan civic organization which can include all qualified candidates, and which can foster real discussion of issues without cronyism or favoritism.

Concerned about the expansion of government control and the erosion of individual liberty? Please consider joining and becoming active with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota. Libertarians support liberty on all issues, all the time! Libertarianism is a philosophical and political movement to promote personal freedom, strong civil liberties, a genuinely free marketplace, and peace.

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