How the televised presidential debates are a fraud

Occupy Wall Street marked its first anniversary with a day of roaming actions throughout the Financial District in New York City. Thousands of police massed to contain them, but only contributed to the chaos as they - not the demonstrators - sealed off Wall Street, harassed office workers and arbitrarily blocked side streets and intersections. Yours truly was knocked over by one officer of the law. There were about 200 arrests. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was there.

Green Party candidates Dr. Jill Stein (left) and Cheri Honkala (right) were arrested for attempting to participate in the televised presidential debates. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Sunset Parkerpix/Flickr)

The evening of Monday, Oct. 22, was the final installment in the presidential debates leading up to Election 2012. Did you know that by believing that that’s all there is in politics this election cycle, you are buying into a gigantic serving of fraud perpetrated against you? Did you know that by supporting the idea that there are only two viable candidates for President of the United States, you are not only accepting the status quo, but implicitly supporting a backroom agreement between bullies to exclude other voices from the U.S. political landscape? If you care about being informed and being allowed to exercise your rights as a politically active free citizen to their fullest potential, here’s some information regarding the way televised presidential debates used to be, and could be again if enough people stand up and care.

The presidential debates they don’t want you to see

Let’s begin this brief discussion of how televised presidential debates have gone so far wrong with a little history. Not long after the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1919 – making the women’s suffrage movement obsolete – the nonpartisan political coalition known as the League of Women Voters (LWV) came into being. By 1975, the LWV had gathered enough political power to become permanent host for the televised presidential debates.

This wasn’t the first time for the LWM, as it had previously hosted the debates in 1952. At that time, all presidential candidates were represented, rather than just the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate. Once the Federal Communications Commission officially labeled presidential debates “bona fide news events,” which brought a renewed focus to “equal time,” the LWM stepped in as the third party moderator in 1976. The renewed focus, however, was that the LWM found equal time to be important. The FCC threw it out the window. Somebody had to stand up for fairness, and the LWM decided it would take up the torch.

As host of presidential debates from 1976 through 1984, the League of Women Voters codified the debate format, splitting them into categories based upon how the questions are asked of the candidates. It was an open format where follow-up questions among the candidates were allowed. Equal time was given to all presidential candidates, and each candidate was invited to participate or not. Regardless of who showed up, the debates went on as scheduled. However, as we’ll see, candidates from the “two-party system” began to push the LWM to change the rules.

Presidential debates, and the demands of elephants and donkeys

History has shown that rulership is often taken by force. In the case of the Republican and Democratic parties, their megalithic corporate sponsors gave them the financial backing wrest control, effectively dismantling free and equal debates on television. In 1980, Democratic presidential incumbent refused to participate in the televised debates, reportedly because he objected to taking the stage if independent candidate John Anderson was allowed to participate. The debate went on without Carter, and Republican nominee Ronald Reagan won the election.

Televised presidential debates were suddenly viewed as being dangerous by those in power. In any given election cycle, a candidate could be humiliated and even potentially lose their lead in the polls due to a single debate misstep, or in the case of Carter, a no-show. It was at this time that representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties banded together – along with corporate sponsors that keep them flush with cash – in order to force other voices out of the televised debates, under the fallacy that dissenting voices were somehow “not viable,” arguably in the same way that Adolph Hitler hinted that Jews were somehow “not viable.” Talk pretty, swing a big stick and the message becomes a mantra forcefully stamped upon the minds of sheep. Cult of personality and cash win, freedom and substance lose.

But I digress.

How presidential debates became a sham

In 1988, the campaign staff of George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis reportedly met without knowledge of the LWM and drafted a “memorandum of understanding.” This secret document spelled out would could sit in the audience during the 1988 presidential debates, who could serve as panelists, and abolished follow-up questions. The LWM would no longer have a say in how the debates were held.

Disgusted by the blatant power grab and attempt to deprive U.S. voters of exposure to legitimate candidates for the presidency, the LWM called the move by the GOP-Democratic Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) “a fraud on the American voter.” Since then, the CPD is the only organization that has been allowed to host the presidential debates.

Gradually, aside from a brief blip by Reform Party candidate Ross Perot, the televised presidential debates shut out other voices completely. Even Perot was shut out in 1996 when Republican Bob Dole and Democrat Bill Clinton complained. Perot sued in order to get his equal time, but due to the 1975 FCC decision, it was ultimately deemed that he had no legal ground upon which to stand.

Presidential debates inspire lawsuits still today

Yet that didn’t stop the challenges by other political parties. On the very day of the final televised presidential debate of Election 2012, Green Party campaign manager Ben Manski announced that his party, represented by candidates Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, is suing the CPD, Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee, Federal Election Commission and Lynn University. The claim is that the Green Party and Jill Stein have been deprived of Constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free speech and statutorily protected civil rights. At the previous presidential debate, Stein and Honkala were arrested at Hofstra University for peacefully attempting to join the debate and answer questions. Remember, the Green Party appears on at least 85 percent of national ballots.

If that doesn’t smell like a lack of freedom when it comes to the presidential debates, nothing does. America, your own government supports stifling political voices that dissent from the worn path of the Republican and Democratic parties, at least when it comes to exposing those voices on broadcast television. And according to prominent members of the “1 percent” like Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the type of questions the fraudulent two-party debates get are less than instructive for the U.S. voting public,

“You could have picked ten people off the street who didn’t know Jerusalem from Georgia and they would have had better questions,” Kerry noted of the 2000 presidential debates.

Why Democrats and Republicans don’t care what you think

The CPD isn’t beholden to the public, so the fraud of the televised presidential debates continues. Why might it be that the CPD doesn’t have to answer to the public? Follow the money trail. Here’s the list of sponsors of the CPD for Election 2012. This Bud’s for you!

  • Anheuser-Busch Companies
  • The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
  • Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq.
  • Crowell & Moring LLP
  • International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
  • The Kovler Fund
  • Southwest Airlines

You have options beyond the presidential debates

Here are all the presidential and vice presidential candidates that are likely to appear on your ballot for Election 2012. Don’t assume that because Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are the ones you see on television, they’re your only options for leadership. In total, here are all candidate teams that appear on your ballot. CLICK HERE for links to their individual campaign websites, so you can do the research yourself, rather than being force-fed an incomplete picture by the lamestream media. And if you’re interested, archived footage of “alternative” presidential debates including Jill Stein (Green Party), Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) and Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) is available at the Democracy Now! Website. In alphabetical order by party:

  • American Independent Party: Tom Hoelfing and J.D. Ellis
  • American Third Position Party: Merlin Miller and Harry Bertram
  • Constitution Party: Virgial Goode and Jim Clymer
  • Democratic Party: Barack Obama and Joe Biden
  • Green Party: Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala
  • Justice Party: Rocky Anderson and Luiz Rodriguez
  • Libertarian Party: Gary Johnson and Jim Gray
  • Objectivist Party: Tom Stevens and Alden Link
  • Party of Socialism and Liberation: Peta Lindsay and Yari Osorio
  • Peace & Freedom Party: Rosanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan
  • Prohibition Party: Lowell “Jack” Fellure and Toby Davis
  • Reform Party USA: Andre Barnett and Ken Cross
  • Republican Party: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
  • Socialist Party USA: Stewart Alexander and Alejandro “Alex” Mendoza
  • Socialist Equality Party: Jerome “Jerry” White and Phyllis Scherrer
  • Socialist Workers Party: James Harris and Maura DeLuca

How third party candidates matched up in 2008

If the mainstream media, CPD, Democratic Party and Republican Party allowed for dissenting voices to challenge their party platforms, the numbers (as recorded during Election 2008) would undoubtedly be different.

An infographic reflecting the platform and stances of third parties during Election 2008.


‘Why You Don’t Even Know That A Presidential Candidate Was Arrested Last Night’


2012 presidential candidates

Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors

Green Party on Facebook:

How Stuff Works entry on presidential debates:

Open Debates

Wikipedia entry on debates:

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