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Open the Debates 142

Posted by pudge
from the because-they-are-closed dept.
An anonymous user writes, "It's time to let the George W. Bush and John Kerry campaigns know that the American people want them to participate in real, democratic and engaging presidential debates hosted by the Citizens' Debate Commission." Briefly, Presidential debates have been run by the Commission on Presidential Debates since 1988, and the CPD is run by the Republican and Democratic parties, which has resulted in less informative and less watched debates that exclude third parties and anything else that could hurt the two parties. The CDC, in cooperation with Open Debates, is trying to improve the debates by removing the bipartisan control.
"Please do not be shy. Senator Kerry and President Bush are campaigning to be your public servants, and you should not hesitate to remind them of your wishes. Kerry campaign: 202-712-3000; Bush campaign: 703-647-2700. Please call this week! The major party campaigns have assembled their high-profile debate negotiating teams, and they will soon begin debate negotiations. Finally, Open Debates' Executive Director George Farah will be appearing on ABC World News Now tonight (sometime between 1am and 3am EST, for those of you still awake), and on ABC News Now Thursday morning at 6am EST. (They are different programs.)"
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Open the Debates

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  • by jared_hanson (514797) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @05:50PM (#10195077) Homepage Journal
    A sentiment which seems to be quite prevalent in this election is that, while people are not enthused about John Kerry, they are voting for him because they don't want to vote for Bush. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when you can't cast a reasonable vote for the candidate who represents your issues, and have to resort to voting against the candidate who doesn't.

    Things may start to change if the third-party candidates and independants were given enough media coverage to actually present their views to the public. This simply doesn't happen, but allowing them to take part in nationally televised debates would be a step in the right direction.
    • by captnitro (160231) * on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @06:05PM (#10195217)
      while people are not enthused about John Kerry, they are voting for him because they don't want to vote for Bush

      This may be true, but remember that many Presidents have been more passive than Bush and rode the wave of the economy, war, treaties, congress, and so on.

      Bush, on the other hand, has been very busy from day one. Literally, I mean the man issued how many executive reversals of generally assumed public policy in his first days? ::sigh:: How I wish he would have taken MORE vacation time..

      Let's also remember that many people voted Bush not because they wanted to vote Bush, but because of what they felt was a trust issue with the Democratic Party after Clinton. So they were voting for not-Gore. (For those that say Clinton's indiscretions weren't anybody's business but his, remember that his primary indiscretion was never, ever Monica. It was when he lied to the American public in prime time, and made people embarassed for the Office. My father, a straight-down-the-middle moderate, wouldn't vote for anyone from that administration for exactly that reason. I know, I know.. bad reason to vote. But to him, it was immense.)

      I don't feel this is totally different from other elections, remember, the presidency is like a four-year term with an option for four more. If it was 2008, it might be different, but this is an election for an incumbent. OF COURSE it's voting for who you don't want.
      • You've hit the crux of the matter. The Republicans are *too effective*. Most of the time, even during Wartime, we don't really need an activist government, left wing or right wing. Most of the time the machinery of the government runs itself quite well, thank you.

        We currently have an effective, activist government with no popular mandate pushing its agenda mercilessly over the other half of the country. Talking to some people at work who approve of the current administration, they don't even seem to recogn
      • Here's an idea.

        Remember the "Nader Traders" of 2000? They were a way for mainstream Democrats and more progressive liberals to work together to get more votes for Nader without hurting Gore. Indeed, the original Nader Traders said that they signed up several thousand people in Florida in 2000 to trade Gore votes into Florida ... imagine what history would be like if they had gotten 1000 more trades for Gore!

        How about setting up some trades for people who are sick of both major parties but feel forced to

  • Do the American People really want a fair debate as you've outlined, or are they perfectly happy with the two-party debate control that mirrors the two-party government? I'm a big fan of breakign the two-party regime, but I'm not most Americans really care much.
    • People DO care if they believe they can make a difference.

      But the first step is showing them that they can make a difference. And debates would be a good start.
  • That would be really cool. I probably couldn't get near it, but it would still be cool.
  • The debates should definately be open to anyone who is on the ballot in enough states to be able to win the election. In other words, if it is possible (not necessarily probable) for them to win enough electorial votes to win, they should be in the debates.

    Last I heard (this was around the time Harry Browne ran the first time) the commission uses some vague standard of viability which appears to me designed to eliminate anyone other than democrats and republicans.
    • The debates should definately be open to anyone who is on the ballot in enough states to be able to win the election. In other words, if it is possible (not necessarily probable) for them to win enough electorial votes to win, they should be in the debates.

      Exactly. All this polling percentage crap, and subjective measures of "popularity" need to go out the window. Any candidate who has a mathematical chance of winning, should be in the debates. Right now that would mean, I believe, Bush, Kerry, Badna
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @06:19PM (#10195358) Homepage Journal
    There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.

    Everything in an election of this level is measured by how it will affect the candidate's chances. If the upside of staying away is greater than the downside of attending, then the candidate will stay away, period.

    Former CIA Director George H.W. Bush lost, in no small part, because he let Perot go over his head to talk directly to the American people. Armed with the facts, the people voted against Bush Sr. That's called "democracy", the same thing we pay lip service to in Iraq and Afghanistan these days.

    Of all his daddy's mistakes, this is the one that former Texas Governor George Dubya Bush won't make again. He knows better than to trust the people to make an informed choice.

    And to be fair, I don't see an upside for Kerry, either. The Greens' candidate (David Cobb, dude, NOT NADER!) will be happy to call Kerry to account for his own sins.
    • There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.

      Call them and complain!
      • Foo: There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.
        Bar: Call them and complain!

        I may, but I can't put much faith in our ability to convince either candidate to make a decision that is clearly not in his best interest. I'm not willing to try to lie and say I'm undecided, for one thing. It would also be hard to hide where I'm calling from... as great as it would be for Kerry to win Texas, there a
        • I may, but I can't put much faith in our ability to convince either candidate to make a decision that is clearly not in his best interest.

          That misses the point, I think. If enough people complain, it becomes in their interest to deal with it, in various ways. Mostly, because if enough people complain, the bad press will follow. Then one of them will leap up to grab the good press, and the other will follow soon after.
    • There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.

      If we had run the final 2000 presidential election based on Condorcet or approval voting instead of plurality voting, Nader wouldn't have been a "spoiler" and Gore would have won. If we had run the whole 2000 presidential election based on Condorcet or approval voting, McCain could have run past the primaries without worrying about splitting the Repub
  • by FFFish (7567) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @06:22PM (#10195398) Homepage
    I'm just a lowly Canuck, so I can't claim as to have been paying a great amount of attention to what's going on with that smaller country beneath us, but my general impression is that the two US candidates are far more focused on 30 year-old war records instead of things like, oooh, say the economy, or healthcare, or foreign affairs, or education, or...

    So, what exactly would they debate?
    • You're right. You haven't been paying much attention. Only one of the candidates is focused on a 30-year old war record. The other candidate is busy focusing on the current war the U.S. is fighting.
  • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @06:23PM (#10195405)
    This is an awful idea. Doesn't anyone remember the Democratic debates we just suffered through? They'd have ten people up there--half of which were clearly just up there for publicity (all the ones who didn't have Senator, Governor, or General in front of their name were just shameless attention grabbers with no hope of winning) and you'd only hear about five minutes each from the candidates who were serious about running. It was a complete waste of their energy and the viewer's time. I'm sorry, but in a country of 270 million people, there is simply no possible way to hear from every single idiot who wants to be president. Debates are not supposed to be excuses to get your name out or for radicals to "send a message" to the establishment--it's how we pick the leader of the United States of America.

    While Kerry is certainly infinitely better than Bush, I think a lot of Democrats are starting to rethink their belief that he was the most electable candidate in the pack--and no wonder, they only listened to him talk for five minutes, with a soundbite or two on the evening news every day.

    Sure, I hate the two party system--but that hatred does not extend to two-person debates. I mean, they don't invite every single baseball team to the World Series, do they? It's not fair to rely on the debates at the end of the election season to boost yourself out of single-digit territory.

    • You're only seeing half the picture. The other half would include a reform of the form of the debates, as well. There are many different ideas of how to accomplish it. Just because the Democrats did it one way doesn't mean anything.

      Also, you misunderstand the criteria. Likely, it would be based on a. elgibility (35 years old, born citizen, etc.), b. on enough ballots to win, c. running at least 5% in the polls.

      The 5% is a compromise, based on the fact that it is already codified into our laws: if you
    • I'm sorry, but in a country of 270 million people, there is simply no possible way to hear from every single idiot who wants to be president.

      Why? It's easy to have a list of questions, and have every candidate fill it out. We do that here for local issues, it would work just fine for the President. Should also have y/n answers, so we can find out who is for or against an issue. Cut right through the bullshit.

      Then you debate on the issues, not the person. Which this whole presidency is just about the per
    • They'd have ten people up there--half of which were clearly just up there for publicity (all the ones who didn't have Senator, Governor, or General in front of their name were just shameless attention grabbers with no hope of winning)

      And the funniest part was that the only candidate out of all these that actually showed a personality was Al Sharpton, the biggest joke candidate of the lot. No wait, that was the saddest part.

    • Insightful? This isn't a yes/no question. And comparing *one* aspect of the idea, lowering the current bar (which would only allow two candidates) to the Democratic primary debates, which had, yes FIFTEEN people, is nonsense. No one except your straw man is arguing for lowering the bar *that* low.

      I'm wondering about your last remark, too:
      I mean, they don't invite every single baseball team to the World Series, do they? It's not fair to rely on the debates at the end of the election season to boost your
    • I'm sorry, but in a country of 270 million people

      294,221,787 [census.gov]

      Not an important point. I only bring it up because you were off by twenty-four million people. Which is, you know, huge. That's more than the population of Australia. You were off by a whole continent.

      Anyway, it's just a point of trivia.
  • Commission on Presidential Debates [everything2.com]

    I found this a few months ago and I think it's an awesome little history of how the debates were wrestled from the control of the League of Women's voters. Please read this before complaining about third party candidates entering the debates.

    There are more brief histories on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and Disinfopedia [disinfopedia.org]. If you are at a university with access to bigger encyclopedia that cost money I suggest you poke through the history of the debates on one of those.

    The overall lesson you'll learn is that the United States Commission on Presidential Debates is completely unfair to everyone but the two big parties... and how many of us completely agree with either or those?

    For those of you who don't like Bush, check here [electoral-vote.com] and notice that all the midwestern states that support him are also the larger supporters of Nader. All those complaints that Nader is taking points from Kerry are self-defeating. Those complaints are just causing the conservatives who don't like Bush to vote for him anyway since they really don't like Kerry and they don't believe there's anyone else available since the other options get downplayed so heavily.

    America needs debate reform, and that's a requirement before we'll get more parties.

    --Matthew
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Wednesday September 08, 2004 @08:48PM (#10196517) Homepage
    of COURSE they should open up the debates.. why is this even in question? One thing that never ceases to irk me is that the US goes around talking about democracy and how great it is and goes as far as starting WARS in the name of democracy, when they BARELY EVEN HAVE ONE. I'm sorry, but a two-party system is NOT my definition of democracy. Democracy is supposed to represent CHOICE, and when you're forced two choose between the lesser of two evils, in what way does that represent freedom? And as to whether or not it is doable: We have 4-party debates in every election in Canada and although granted the votes usually fall mostly on two of the more prominent parties, at least we give people the option. (Consider that if a party has no voice, it's not really an option, is it, since no one will have any idea what their vote would be representing.) Frankly I was apalled this year in our election debates when I discovered that the Green Party had a candidate in almost every riding, and yet was not invited to the debate. I'm not a Green Party advocate, but I think if you've got something to say, and you're willing to say it all over the country, you should be given a chance to do so. Face it, the "democracy" in the states is nothing more than two huge power groupings fighting over control. It is focused entirely on collecting votes, and has nothing to do with actual issues. It has nothing to do with what's good for the people, which is supposed to be what democracy is all about. The American political system doesn't consider votes the be the expression of peoples' opinions on various issues, it considers them some kind of currency, and the political parties are nothing but profit-centered corporations that use commercialism and subversive techniques to make as much "vote-profit" as possible.
  • zerg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Thursday September 09, 2004 @12:49AM (#10197991) Homepage
    You know what? Fuck the debates. They're not important.

    I'll tell you what is important: Slashdot interviews. It's shameful that the wankers running this site haven't already solicited slashdotters for +5 insightful questions that they want answers to.
  • "Bring it on!"
  • by shfted! (600189)
    Whenever I see CDC, I think of Cult of the Dead Cow [cultdeadcow.com].
  • I saw the Badnarik/Cobb debate in New York City last week.

    There were about 200 people in the audience. C-SPAN had a crew there.

    The candidates didn't directly question each other. They made opening statements; the moderator asked prepared questions of them both.

    And then the really good part: the moderator asked both candidates questions submitted from the audience. And I got a kick because one of the questions was mine. ("Each of you has a small chance of winning. What goals do you hope to achieve by
  • Bush is attempting to squirm out of the middle of 3 debates, in St. Louis, before an audience selected by the Gallup polling organization. What happened to "bring it on"? Does he talk tough only when sending other people to die overseas, but turns yellow when he has to talk about policy in front of Americans who haven't been screened by his campaign?

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