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Response to Ter (Reply #32)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:39 PM

84. The two corporate parties seized control of the debates

after Ross Perot scared the hell out of them by challenging their domination of the political process.

From the '70's until 1988, the League of Women Voters managed the Presidential debates. During this time, it was easier for third parties to gain access, and there was at least some effort to provide a format that included some genuine substantive questions, time for responses, and follow-up questioning.

That all changed when Ross Perot ran for President and shocked everyone by gaining popular support as an Independent, running on issues including the corporate "sucking" of jobs overseas and environmental destruction. The two parties took quick action together to seize control of the debate process, including the entrance rules and the format and substance of the debates. The League of Women voters withdrew in disgust and issued a strongly worded press release (see bolded below). Their warning was absolutely on target:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential...

Control of the presidential debates has been a ground of struggle for more than two decades. The role was filled by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (LWV) civic organization in 1976, 1980 and 1984. In 1987, the LWV withdrew from debate sponsorship, in protest of the major party candidates attempting to dictate nearly every aspect of how the debates were conducted. On October 2, 1988, the LWV's 14 trustees voted unanimously to pull out of the debates, and on October 3 they issued a dramatic press release:

"The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates...because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us 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."

The same year the two major political parties assumed control of organizing presidential debates through the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The commission has been headed since its inception by former chairs of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee.

Some have criticized the exclusion of third party and independent candidates as well as the parallel interview format as a minimum of getting 15% in opinion polls is required to be invited. In 2004, the Citizens' Debate Commission (CDC) was formed with the stated mission of returning control of the debates to an independent nonpartisan body rather than a bipartisan body. Nevertheless, the CPD retained control of the debates that year and in 2008.




We need to reform the entire damned system. We need to get the money out of politics and the corporations out of the parties. The two corporate party system we have now is specifically designed to prevent other voices from being heard.


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