Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates




The Commission on Presidential Debates (or CPD for short) just denied the Libertarian and Green Party candidates from participating in the upcoming Presidential Debates. It's absolutely disgusting, and whether or not you support any of the third party candidates, you should be upset.

This private organization controls a disproportionate amount of influence and power in the political arena. They alone determine who does and doesn't  qualify as a "legitimate contender" in the presidential race. Since when did we as Americans surrender that determination to some money making machine? 

You should be upset, regardless of your political leanings, because this organization alone shapes the message and choices of the entire election. It restricts the amount of information you receive. It hampers the democratic process by manipulating the choices presented to the people. It falsely presents the same two options as the ONLY two options. It ignores large swaths of the population's wishes by propagating the two party system at the expense of true representation. 

The only contact I could find for the CPD was for their media department (media@debates.org and 202-872-1020). So I wrote up a little letter and emailed to them. I would encourage you to do the same. Because this is un-American and disgusting.

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To the Commission on Presidential Debates,

As this is the only contact email I can find for your organization, I will use it to tell you how disgraceful it is that you deny third party candidates the opportunity to debate. Your mission statement reads:

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.


You in fact directly contradict this mission statement by barring entry to third party candidates. You are actually restricting information to viewers and listeners by misguiding them into believing that what is on your stage represents the full spectrum of political views in contention for the White House.

If the second half of your stated mission is in fact your mission, you are failing miserably at that as well. It reads:

Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates 

Now, I don't think anyone disagrees that you are at least doing this much, but your mission statement continues: 

and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. 

The "research" featured on your website is laughable and outdated. Discussion groups and forums from 1997 do not qualify as research. You seem to need some help in this department. Here are a couple excellent research question for you: At what point is an organization that is supposedly dedicated improving the democracy of a nation considered corrupt? Here's a hypothesis for you to test: when it directly contradicts its mission statement in favor of, say, eliminating competition to established political ideologies. That one should keep you busy for a while, assuming you actually conduct what academia refers to as research, as opposed to your extremely loose interpretation of research.

Your organization is seen by me and many as corrupt, advancing the two party stranglehold on American politics while effectively silencing all other voices. At this point, it doesn't matter if this perception is valid or not; what matters is that your organization is no longer viewed as non-partisan and non-profit. It is viewed as corrupt. As a private organization, you hold the power to change the criteria for who makes it onto the debate stage. Ultimately, without major reform, you hold the power to change the debates for the better. You have the power to change the perception of your organization from one of corruption to one of a champion of democratic ideals. Provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners by allowing more voices to be heard. Truly examine the nature of democracy and the role of public debates like the ones you sponsor. Live up to your non-partisan and non-profit nature. 

Until you do these things, shame on you, and on the detrimental effect your organization is having on the democratic process of our nation. It's truly disgusting. 

Sincerely,