A lawsuit filed by former third-party presidential candidates who were excluded from debates in 2000 demonstrates one of the major problems we have with our election system today -- and therefore also with our democracy.
The former presidential candidates -- including Ralph Nader of the Green Party and several other lesser knowns -- have asked the Federal Election Commission to block the Commission on Presidential Debates from sponsoring next year's forums because the organization bars any presidential candidate with less than 15 percent of the national popular support from participating in the debate.
This isn't a shock when considering the Commission on Presidential Debates was jointly founded by the Republican and Democratic parties. It unfortunately has become a campaign tool and serves only to exclude important minority party voices that may challenge the big boys and make them a little more accountable.
It's true that the two parties did set up the commission, but we think the time has come for the Federal Election Commission to get involved. The two big parties just don't understand that by applying a stranglehold to any minor party opposition, they continue to increase the voter apathy nationwide. The percentage of eligible voters who actually do so is continuing to decrease and part of the reason is politics -- presidential style.
Voters want to hear new voices. They want more choices when it comes to electing their president, but the Commission on Presidential Debates makes it difficult for a third-party to compete.
Even in 2000, when Ralph Nader polled as much as 5 percent of support at times, he was excluded from the debates. That was unfortunate because he could have contributed much to the discussion of the nation's future.
Even if candidates were required to poll 3 or 5 percent of the vote to be allowed to participate, it would change the political landscape and maybe re-interest many voters who have tuned out.
-- The Daily Journal of International Falls
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