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No More Closed Presidential Debates!
Closed Debates? NO MORE in 2004!
Background: From 1976 through 1984 the televised presidential debates were organized by the non-partisan League of Women Voters until the Republican and Democratic parties decided to control the debates themselves. In 1987 the bi-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was formed – a private entity run by former chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties. Each election cycle the two campaigns negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding which the CPD follows. Bill Moyer’s NOW has a link to the 2004 MOU (the first one to be made public).
The CPD’s candidate selection criteria are exclusionary since they require that candidates average at least 15% support in 5 national polls. This makes it very difficult for any 3rd parties to get their views heard in the debates. It also keeps the debates limited to two candidates who are very similar on all but a handful of issues. The two major parties agree on many important issues such as “free” trade agreements and corporate globalization. This is just fine with the major corporations who sponsor the debates.
After democracy advocates repeatedly tried and failed to persuade the CPD to open its events (even with two candidates who large majorities of the public wanted to see debate in 2000), it became imperative to replace the anti-democratic CPD.
Legal action against the Commission on Presidential Debates:
- 5/5/2004 3rd Party Candidates Sue the FEC for Failing to Act on their Complaint
- 6/17/2003 3rd Party Candidates File Complaint Against the CPD
In 2004, a wide range of civic groups formed the Citizens’ Debate Commission to return control of the debates to an independent, nonpartisan body that serves the public, not private interest.
How should inclusion in the presidential debates be determined?
Here are some options:
- “1. register at 5 percent in national public opinion polls; OR 2. Register a majority (50 percent or more) in national public opinion polls asking eligible voters which candidates they would like to see included in the presidential debates.” (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)
- “With over one hundred declared presidential candidates in 2000, limiting the number of debate participants was mandatory. But simply requiring that candidates appear on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance to win is an appropriate standard for the first debate of each general election. This typically would yield from four to seven candidates–a number easily managed by the major parties in their own primary debates. After an initial debate, the field could be narrowed fairly with more stringent criteria.” (Reclaim Democracy)
TO HELP OPEN THE DEBATES:
Visit the DEBATES ACTION PAGE or use the following links to jump to a section of that page.
There are 4 main strategies to deal with the rigged debates:
- Put on pressure before the debates
[Targets: Major Candidates, TV Networks, Local Newspapers, Corporate Sponsors, Debates Commission]
- Citizens’ debates
- Hold massive protests at the debates
- Sue the Bastards
|As planned by the Citizens’ Debate Commission:|
|1st Presidential Debate||Wed, Sept 22||Capital University||Columbus, OH|
|2nd Presidential Debate||Tues, Sept 28||Swarthmore College||Swarthmore, PA|
|3rd Presidential Debate||Tues, Oct 3||Canisius College||Buffalo, NY|
|Vice-Presidential Debate||Thur, Oct 7||Willamette University||Salem, OR|
|4th Presidential Debate||Mon, Oct 11||Carleton College||Northfield, MN|
|5th Presidential Debate||Fri, Oct 15||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|As planned by the Commission on Presidential Debates:|
(All debates will be aired at 9:00 pm Eastern Time)
|Debate/Protest Website||Date||Host Site||Location|
|1st Presidential Debate|
|Thur, Sept. 30||University of Miami||Coral Gables, FL|
Shadow Debate & Protest
|Tues, Oct 5||Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, OH|
|2nd Presidential Debate|
|Fri, Oct 8||Washington University||St. Louis, MO|
|3rd Presidential Debate|
|Wed, Oct 13||Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ|
|Alternate sites: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester NY & University of South Carolina, Columbia SC|
How can I get involved in the debates protests?
Brief History of Presidential Debates
Who are some of the better-known candidates?PartyPresident / Vice-President CandidatesRepublican Party:George W. Bush / Dick CheneyDemocratic Party:John Kerry / John EdwardsIndependent &
Reform Party:Ralph Nader / Peter CamejoGreen Party:David Cobb / Pat LaMarcheLibertarian Party:Michael Badnarik / Richard CampagnaConstitution Party:Michael Peroutka / Chuck Baldwin
[Note: There are other candidates for President as well. You can find out about them at Ballot Access News and Yahoo’s 2004 Presidential Candidates page.]
- Open Debates Files Complaint with the IRS Against the CPD
- Protesters Occupy CPD Offices (9/20/00)
- Efforts to Open the Debates Though Courts/Regulation/Legislation
- It’s the Debates, Stupid: Nader May Turn Politics Upside Down (Alternet, July 4, 2000)
- Give Us a Real Debate (The Nation, July 10, 2000)
- Polling Report
- Polling Report – Presidential Race Polls (polls through 7/27/2000)
- Zogby International
- Vote.com online poll: “Should Buchanan and Nader be Included in the Presidential Debates?“
This website is dedicated to support efforts to open up the debates to include third party candidates. Many topics that are very important to a large percentage of the American public WILL NOT be covered by Bush and Kerry should these be the only two candidates allowed to participate. Don’t let the Commission on Presidential Debates take your choices away!
Last modified: 13 September 2004