Access to the Presidential Debates
Representative Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. Introduces Resolution to Open Presidential Debates
Below is a news announcement about the presidential debates. We should point out that there is no "growing sentiment" that the debates include more than two candidates -- the vast majority of Americans have always been pro-democracy and have always favored more inclusive debates.
Washington, DC -- Reflecting a growing sentiment among American voters, Representative Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D., Illinois) introduced a resolution yesterday to open up the presidential debates by lowering the access criteria set by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The resolution states that candidates should be admitted into the debates if the candidate is polling at 5% in national polls or if polls show that a majority of voters support the candidate's participation.
Ralph Nader, who is at 8% in the most recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Journal poll, would be eligible to participate in the debates according to these criteria. The same poll shows that 64% want him in the debates, and 73% say the debates would be "more interesting" with him included.
In a letter inviting support for the resolution, Jackson said, "Presidential debates serve the essential function of informing and educating the public.
"The CPD's 15 percent requirement excludes non-major party candidates on the basis of polls from a public who has not yet had an opportunity to hear from these candidates. This year's debates will be held in early October, at a time when many eligible voters have not yet committed to a single candidate."
Emphasizing the importance of the debates in shaping the political discourse and determining who chooses to vote, the resolution states that the 15% rule is arbitrary and too high. Instead, the criteria should mirror the Federal election law which requires 5% for Federal campaign funding. Falling short of the 5% mark, candidates should be admitted if a majority of voters polled support the candidate's participation in the debates.
Ralph Nader said, "With elegant prose, Rep. Jackson has caught the mood of the country. People want open debates, not the closed door corporate-sponsored debates supported by the two parties. The Jackson resolution is a pro-democracy move that transcends partisanship."
What's your opinion on the presidential debates? What is their purpose? Is it terribly burdensome, or frightening, or costly, to have more than two people participate? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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