The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is holding its first presidential debate tonight with Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Excluded from the debate will be Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who are both on enough state ballots to win the amount of electoral votes necessary to assume the presidency.
The Dissenter at Firedoglake is hosting a stream of “Democracy Now!” 3-hour special live broadcast of the debate because the program will be expanding the debate to include two third party candidates—Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson. I will be encouraging people to view the debate this way because the CPD is a symptom of the supremely corrupt system of politics in America and there should be more voices in the debate tonight.
The broadcast will begin a half hour before the debate is scheduled to start and then, when the debate begins, debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS will ask the first question. Both Romney and Obama will answer and then “Democracy Now!” will pause so that Stein and Anderson can answer the question. This means that those following this broadcast instead of the broadcast on the major networks will no longer be watching Romney or Obama give their answers live. Tweets on this broadcast and comments left in the threads of any live blogs on the debate will seem delayed, but what’s most important? Being able to participate in the snarky chatter or being able to view a version of the debate that all Americans should be seeing tonight instead of the CPD-controlled version?
Here is George Farah of OpenDebates.org detailing on “Democracy Now!” this morning just how corrupt the CPD happens to be:
The Commission on Presidential debates sounds like a government agency, it sounds like a nonpartisan entity, which is by design, is intended to deceive the American people. But, in reality, it is a private corporation financed by Anheuser-Busch and other major companies, that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties to seize control of the presidential debates from The League of Women Voters in 1987. Precisely as you said, Amy, every four years, this commission allows the major party campaigns to meet behind closed doors and draft a secret contract, a memorandum of understanding that dictates many of the terms. The reason for the commission’s creation is that the previous sponsor, The League of Women voters, was a genuine non-partisan entity, our voice, the voice of the American people in the negotiation room, and time and time again, The League had the courage to stand up to the Republican and Democratic campaigns to insist on challenging creative formats, to insist on the inclusion of independent candidates that the vast majority of American people wanted to see, and most importantly, to insist on transparency, so that any attempts by the Republican and Democratic parties to manipulate the presidential debates would result in and of enormous political price…
The Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan campaigns vetoed eighty moderators the League of Women Voters proposed for the debates. The League held a press conference that called out the campaigns for “trying to get rid of difficult questions.” The League of Women Voters created a public backlash that forced the campaigns to accept their proposed moderator at a second debate. However, four years later, the campaigns for Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush drew up “the first ever 12-page secret debate contract.” They asked the League of Women Voters to “implement” the contract. The organization said no so the
…We are not going to implement a secret contract that dictates the terms of the format. Instead, they release the contract to the public and they held a press conference accusing the candidates of “perpetrating a fraud on the American people” and refusing to be “an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American people.”
Well, Amy, conveniently, just a year earlier, the Republican and Democratic parties had ratified an agreement “to take over the presidential debates, and they created this artifice, this commission, and the commission was waiting in the wings and stepped right in and implemented the very same 12-page contract that The League had so effectively denounced, and ever since we’ve had a contract…
This is why there is a grassroots effort to <a href="http://occupythecpd.org/“>Occupy the Debates. This is why Farah’s group, OpenDebates.org, mounted a campaign to get sponsors of the debates to withdraw their support (and succeeded in convincing three corporations to drop their support). And, this is why Gary Johnson has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the CPD.
Tune into “Democracy Now!” for the debate. Don’t watch the corporate or establishment media’s broadcast of a debate run by a corrupt organization, which actively works to undermine democracy. Watch a broadcast of the debate by an alternative or independent source for news that is not going to hide a certain point of view to protect some partisan or, in the case of the CPD. bipartisan interest.
*For more on the “Illusion of Democracy in the 2012 Election”, go here.