Open the Presidential Debates! | The Nation

31 Aug

This year, the case for reform is being made by a number of credible third-party candidates who have secured ballot status in multiple states, including the Green Party’s Jill Stein, a physician and noted environmental health activist; the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor; the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson, a former Salt Lake City mayor; and the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode, a former Virginia Congressman. All have claims to debate spots; under more open formats, Stein debated Mitt Romney when they both sought the Massachusetts governorship in 2002, and before he switched parties, Johnson faced Romney in the 2012 GOP presidential debates.

The commission is disinclined to open things up this year, or even to tinker with the format. It’s still vital to keep the pressure on, however. The best way to do that is by backing the nonprofit, nonpartisan group Open Debates, which is calling on the commission to release the details of its negotiations with the Obama and Romney campaigns, as well as its agreement to implement the campaigns’ debate plan. Transparency poses the greatest threat to a commission agenda that Open Debates decries as “more concerned with the partisan interests of the two major-party candidates than the democratic interests of the voting public.”

But citizens should do more than just pressure the commission. After all, its oversight is not required by law. Only back-room deals engineered by the major parties and their candidates give the commission its power. Why not pressure the parties and candidates to open things up? “Debates have the potential to be the most interesting, unscripted and definitional part of the campaign,” Nader says. “So why ration them? Instead of three presidential debates, why not have twenty-one spread across the fall? Why not have debates all over the country? In inner cities and rural areas? Various formats? Debates that focus on specific sets of issues? Why not let activists ask questions based on their knowledge and experience? Why not have moderators who challenge candidates, who ask follow-up questions, who encourage candidates to go at it?”

via Open the Presidential Debates! | The Nation.

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One Response to “Open the Presidential Debates! | The Nation”

  1. Charlie Keil September 1, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Nader’s questions, as directed to the two party duopoly, are all phoney, stale rhetoric. And he knows it. So why not get the third and 4th party candidates debating each other NOW? Real people debating real issues could be much more interesting than the polarized, corporation controlled puppet show.

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