CPD guidelines hideously unfair

Tim Paluch

You walk into your classroom for a lecture. All of a sudden, you need to ask a question. The problem is the professor has created a set of restrictions narrowing the number of people allowed to speak. Apparently, not enough people in class fancy you. The professor has decided that to speak, a poll of students must show that 15 percent approve of you and the professor gets to pick the students. This unreasonable and unjust proposal is actually in effect at this year’s presidential debates. This year the debates will eliminate competition, give free advertising to the two big-money parties and undermine the election process of the United States. A candidate must now demonstrate Constitutional eligibility and evidence that the candidate qualifies in enough states to have a mathematical chance of winning the majority in the electoral college. Fair enough, but candidates must also have at least 15 percent of the vote in specific public polls to be included. Three days before each debate, a candidate must average 15 percent in polls conducted by ABC News/Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CNN/USA Today, and Fox News/Opinion Dynamics. This means the media, influencing eligibility for the debates, will cover the candidates according to those same polls. Candidates chances of participating in the debates will be determined by people who influence their chances of participating in the first place. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) created these standards and will host three debates. The 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.” The CPD describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation; the CPD is not affiliated with any political party; it finances the debates entirely through private contributions.” These statements are as appropriate as placing the word “compassionate” anywhere in the same sentence as “conservative.” However the CPD chooses to describe itself, it is actually quite partisan to the most evil, corrupt and elitist party of them all, the “Republicrats.” The CPD is neck-deep in prominent Democrats and Republicans. The nine-member board consists of four democrats, four republicans and one independent. Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., former chairmen of the Republican National Committee, and Paul G. Kirk, Jr., former chairmen of the Democratic National Committee, serve as co-chairs. At the creation of the CPD, Mr. Kirk said he believed the commission should eliminate third party candidates from the debates, “As a party chairmen, its my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system,” he stated. AT&T, Anheiser Busch and SunMicrosystems are among the companies whose tax-deductible contributions to the CPD will fund the debates. These various companies are prominent contributors to both the Gore and Bush campaigns. They have no vested interest in giving Ralph Nader, “The Corporate Avenger,” a chance to speak to the American public on issues of corporate crimes. With a hand in each of the pockets of the Republicrats, big money is guaranteed to get subsidies come 2001. The CPDs criteria are arbitrary, unfair and illogical. There is already a nationally recognized percentage for considering a candidate “strong.” Five percent is the number needed to receive matching federal funds for your party in the next election and would have been a realistic choice. The government and corporate America is deciding our “clear-cut” choice for president and it isn’t all that clear-cut. Without third party participation, the American public is deprived of important issues. Al and Dubya will debate over stale issues such as education reform and the differences in health-care plans. You won’t hear those so-called “extreme” issues of Ralph Nader, like environmental protection, universal health care, a living wage, campaign finance reform or civil liberties. Even Pat Buchanan, who once called Martin Luther King “divisive” and said the United States should annex Greenland, should get a say if enough people agree. This is America, not the Soviet Union.