Tonight, there will be only two candidates on the debate stage, but why only two? The Commission on Presidential Debates is a 501(c)(3), meaning they are not supposed to be a partisan organization. However, the CPD requires that eligibility include polling 15% in 5 National polls in order to be invited to the debates. The problem? The polls are selected by the CPD, and many of them do not even mention candidates other than Republican and Democratic candidates. Sound unfair? We thought so.
In 2014-2017 the Libertarian Party and Green Party took legal action against the Commission on Presidential Debates. Starting with joining Level the Playing Field which sought to bring fairness to debates by including third parties. The complaint was brought to the Federal Elections Commission, which turned down any action and claimed that the CPD was acting within its rights as a private body.
The Libertarians and Greens went to Federal Court. The briefing concluded: “Its leadership has always consisted of Republican and Democratic insiders — party chairs, former elected officials, top aides, party donors and lobbyists,” the brief states. “These staunch partisans endorse Republican and Democratic candidates, lavish them with high-dollar contributions, oversee even larger contributions as paid-for-hire lobbyists and accept undisclosed contributions from corporations that buy influence with the major parties using the CPD as a conduit.”
In February 2017, US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan agreed with plaintiffs that the FEC had “acted arbitrarily and capriciously and contrary to law”. However, the same judge later dismissed the lawsuit.
The CPD has a damning history, in 1988, the CPD was founded by Republican National Committee Chair Frank Fahrenkopf (who is still a co-chair) and then Democratic National Committee Chair Paul Kirk (who is listed as.co-chair emeritus). The league of women voters withdrew their support of the debates when the CPD was formed to take over the Presidential debate stage.
“The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetuate a fraud on the American voter,” said then League President Nancy M. Neuman.
Ross Perot, an Independent, participated in the most watched presidential debate in 1992, he won 19% of the popular vote. When he ran again in 1996, he was not invited back.
• 66% of voters say neither party represents them (HarrisX Poll, September 2018);
• 75% of voters believe politicians are more accountable to their party’s leadership than their constituents.
• Only 20% of voters trust the US government, which is controlled by members of both political parties. (Pew Research, April 2019)
The Commission on Presidential Debates is pro-duopoly, anti-competition, and anti-fair elections. The American People deserve to hear from different Parties with different ideas and a fresh vision for the Nation. The demand has never been greater. Boycott the CPD and their corporate sponsors and help us fight for fair debates and elections.