In 1988, the League of Women Voters withdrew sponsorship of the Presidential Debates. President Nancy Newman said the League had no intention to becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of America. She stated the League regretted the American public had no opportunity to judge nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.
The League’s reasoning to withdraw sponsorship is even more appropriate today, given the Commission on Presidential Debates continues to ensure only two parties have the opportunity to demonstrate their competence before the American public. In doing so, they establish criteria for participation that excludes Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Libertarian and Green Parties respectively, both of whom are on most state ballots.
This is especially egregious given the 24-hour attention corporate media has given to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over the last year. The majority of the voters have not heard the policies of the two third-party candidates who were given only token media coverage in the past several weeks. Instead we have two of the most unpopular candidates in the history of our political process, one deemed a “con artist” and the other viewed as a corporate establishment candidate with questionable self-serving judgment.
To exclude the third party candidates by having them meet 15 percent voter support from five independent polls is unjustified. Even 3 percent of the electorate supporting these candidates amounts to almost 4 million voters who have an equal right to hear from them on a national platform. Excluding them precludes a fair and just evaluation in choosing a president with the character, credibility and integrity to lead the world in its existential challenges. It is incumbent on all of us as these debates are set to demand that all viable candidates be allowed participate.