Open letter to Commission on Presidential Debates

I would like to offer my congratulations to you for once again stifling the opportunity of the American people to learn about more than just two candidates.  This year I believe is going to be the last year that you’ll have the opportunity to operate in the shadows quietly supporting the Republican and Democratic parties and the two-party system.  There is a growing sentiment in the American public that believe that a two-party system no longer represents them completely.  The favorability number on Trump and Clinton are clear indications of this sentiment.  In addition, the arbitrary rules that you have created to prevent another Ross Perot 1992 incident from happening appears to be in contradiction of your own mission posted on your website.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. (Source:  Commission on Presidential Debates:  Our Mission)

According to your own mission, you “ensure that debates … provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”  The requirement that a candidate (not part of the Republicans or Democrats) meets 15% support in allegedly random polls selected by your organization is unfairly biased and restrictive to anyone opposing the two-party system.  Two of the five selected national polls were owned by the same company.  I wrote about that here.  This 15% rule was enacted, I believe, after the 1992 election cycle where Ross Perot had secured 20% of the popular vote that year and threatened the two-party system as an Independent.  The 15% rule is too high, and, if a candidate is listed on the ballots for all 50 states, should automatically receive a spot in the debates so voters can be given the best possible information on a candidate that is statistically able to achieve 270 Electoral votes.

The CPD obtains the funds required to produce its debates every four years and to support its ongoing voter education activities from the communities that host the debates and, to a lesser extent, from corporate, foundation and private donors. Source:  Commission on Presidential Debates:  An Overview

As I’ve not reviewed the tax records for the CPD, I’m only theorizing as to the sources of funds required to produce the debates.  It’s stated here that corporate, foundation and private donors provide a smaller portion of the funds required.  Corporate donors as in large mainstream media corporations?  Foundation donors as in The Clinton Foundation?  Private donors as in oligarchs such as Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers?  I’ll leave this one for others to think about.

The final sites and dates for the debates are chosen by the CPD board of directors and announced approximately one year in advance; this allows for complete logistical preparation by the CPD and the media, and for the sites to take full advantage of debate-related curricular additions. (Source:  Commission on Presidential Debates:  An Overview

Although the dates were selected for this year over a year ago, they interestingly fell on dates that traditionally had other major events going on:

  • September 26th: Monday Night Football
  • October 9th:  Sunday Night Football

Why wouldn’t all the debates take place on a Friday or Saturday to maximize complete viewership and accessibility?  It just seems odd to me and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has made this complaint.  Case in point:  Trump Complains About Debates Conflicting with NFL Games, ABCNews

As a registered voter and an American, I’m disappointed with the CPD and their obvious manipulation (with their own rules) to ensure that the people don’t have everything they need to be as informed as possible.  I agree that the CPD is required, however it should have membership with people who are not affiliated at all with politics to remain as nonpartisan as possible.  I support Gary Johnson’s and Jill Stein’s fight against the Commission on Presidential Debates, however the system had prevailed and blocked them from being able to participate unless they met the 15% polling requirement (which they didn’t).

It would appear an informed electorate is frightening to the rulers of the “used to be” Democracy.

Debating on watching the debates tonight

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.

genelecpolls

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.