The first Presidential debate is tonight squaring Trump and Clinton on the “major issues” (selected by the moderator) of America’s Direction, Achieving Prosperity, and Securing America. I actually stared at the topics for a long time thinking of how ridiculous they actually are when measured against the growing personal knowledge that we’re in a socialist elite (1%) and capitalist non-elite (99%) system. How can any Presidential debate actually discuss anything of importance when the socialist elite are essentially immune to the countries laws when the two people on stage are well within that 1% group. When you consider that 97% of the country makes less than $250k/year, showing support for either of them is basically endorsing the status quo.
Presidential debates are rigged from the beginning to support a two-party system. My belief is that we need to remove the obstacles of the two-party system to allow all party candidates so that the American people can actually find out who all the players are, not just the ones spending millions. Simply put, if a candidate regardless of party is on the ballot in all 50 states, they should be default be allowed to debate. Ross Perot was allowed in the debates, but the rule of 15% didn’t apply to him as it was put in place for the 2000 election cycle.
Reviewing the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) criteria for allowing a candidate to appear on the stage, which states:
… in addition to being constitutionally eligible(1), candidates must:
Appear on a sufficient number of state ballots(2) to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College.
Have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate (3) as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.
I’m going to break this apart into several pieces as I don’t think that most people know that these rules even exist.
1 – Requirements to be President
As directed by the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older. These requirements do not prohibit a woman from being president, yet this has yet to occur.
2 – State Ballots
I’m actually a bit peeved at the fact that this one requirement doesn’t permit a candidate to be on the debate stage. The monumental feat of getting through all the red tape and hurdles for EVERY state is an accomplishment in of itself. Gary Johnson has managed to get on the ballot for all 50 states. Jill Stein is on the ballot in 45 states, 3 states write-in, and 3 states not on the ballot. What actually qualifies as a “sufficient number” of state ballots? I would venture to guess that if you hit 75% of the states, or 38 states, that would indicate a sufficient number. Oh, but there’s that “mathematical chance of winning” portion that, if argued properly, is never going to be achievable in regards to the Electoral College (EC). No lie, I could write an entire post about the EC and how it is horribly dated and no longer appropriate for a system where 1 person = 1 vote.
3 – 15% Support in National Electorate
This is rub on this short list of requirements. First, who decides the five selected national public opinion polling organizations? My spidey sense is telling me that the selection is rigged and the public opinion polling organizations chosen are in fact not truly public opinion. I still don’t quite understand how 600-1500 people are a large enough segment of the population to have a “public” poll. As it stands right now, based on RealClearPolitics, Clinton 42.6, Trump 41.1, Johnson 7.2, Stein 2.3.
The 5 polls selected by the CPD are as follows:
- ABC-Washington Post (Nash Holdings, LLC, controlled by Jeff Bezos)
- CBS-New York Times (The New York Times Company)
- CNN-Opinion Research Corporation (InfoUSA, partnership and majority investment by Lake Capital, private equity)
- Fox News (Fox Networks Group, 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch)
- NBC-Wall Street Journal (News Corp, Rupert Murdoch)
I’m not surprised that most of these polls track back to just a handful of companies and people. It’s no wonder that a third-party candidate can’t get any ground to be included with the debates when the polls playing a part of the decision are stacked against them. The poll threshold should be lowered to 10-12% to give the American people more of an informed choice. Johnson and Stein have garnered support from 9.5% of voters on average in all the polls pictured above. In a country with 250 million or so potential voters, that translates into approximately 23 million people. How can 23 million people be denied in supporting a third party candidate?
What’s the harm?
Seriously, what’s the harm in allowing a third-party candidate on the debate stage? The format can be altered to allow 3 or even 4 people address questions from the moderator and still easily fit into a 90 minute program. Are the Republicans and Democrats THAT afraid? The massive hurdles and effort required to get on the debate stage is proof enough for me that they are in fact afraid to have any real competition. It’s a sad time for America when the people no longer are represented by the elected officials put into office. Our first issue is actually taking the time to vote for those officials. Things right now would be a lot different if more than half the voting age adults actually, well, voted.
There was a shift a few years ago in British politics where a third party began making ground into our current 2 party system. We ended up with a hung parliament and when it was at its lowest point, we were offered a chance to change to a multi party system instead of a 2 party system. Unfortunately the timing was awful, the media was against it, and so were the 2 big parties. We lost our chance for change.
Though in the years since, for good and bad, the minor parties have been more ‘on stage’ than ever before. The last few UK debates before elections and EU vote has seen 5+ parties represented on TV debates.
I hope if America ever gets the chance the UK did, they do not waste it like we did.
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There are definitely a lot more people recognizing and supporting a third party this cycle. Might not be this election, but certainly in 2020 after what I anticipate to be four rough years.
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I think more people would vote if they actually felt represented. But then, our representatives are pretty dead-set against representing us, so no chance of that.
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