|Dr. Jill Stein, 2012 Green Party U.S. Presidential Candidate|
Unequivocally upset with the limitations in place, Dr. Stein attempted to struggle her way into the Hempstead presidential debates, but was arrested when doing so. This spawned off in a law suit by Dr. Stein against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). According to Dr. Stein, her constitutional rights were denied, including the right to free speech, right to due process and equal protection.
Unfortunately, Dr. Stein is not the only candidate to be locked out from debates by the CPD. In 2004, Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party was arrested for trespassing. According to the CPD, candidates must reach a 15% approval rating in national polls to be included in the debates. This has gone unchanged despite the low level of voter turnout (at 51%-56% between 2000-2008). (In constrast, Canada's private media television consortium set entry into national debates at a minimum of one seat in parliament, and New Zealand allows all registered parties to participate in national debates.) Yet, reform within the CPD or the replacement of this organization is further complicated by the fact that the CPD is controlled by the Democratic and Republican party of the United States.
Given the large American and non-American audience, there is growing concern of the CPD’s fairness. The current method of oversight re-enforces the two-party structure, and in turn, continues to limit the options for the voting population, a disheartening reality for the country which prides itself as an ambassador for democracy. If given a fair trial, Dr. Stein’s law suit may force the CPD to reform itself or to disassemble and make room for an independent body operating future presidential debates.
In a recent election report on the United States, the FDA found significant evidence of a system tilted heavily to special and minority interests over the interests of Americans. 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the United States In addition, the Republicans and Democrats, who enjoy the two-party monopoly, have no expressed interest in serious democracy reform.
Further, the FDA identified electoral finance and media coverage processes as the main means of perpetuating the two-party system. Unfortuntely, in the United States, the notion of "freedom" has been used deprive the freedom of persons like Dr. Stein, the American electorate in being denied a vote for their president and vice-president, and the voice of Americans dilluted and drowned out by the phenomenon of Super PACs.
The FDA supports free and broad speech. The purposes of the FDA blog posts are to encourage discussion about timely and significant democracy related issues, and educate.
By Mansharn Toor (FDA Researcher and Writer) and Stephen Garvey (FDA Executive Director).
Question to Readers:
What will it take for Americans to overcome the undemocratic stranglehold the Republicans and Democrats have on American democracy?