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A “Mockery of Democracy”: 3rd Party Candidates Arrested Outside of Presidential Debate

Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested by police this afternoon when attempting to gain entry to tonight’s presidential debate at Hofstra University. The Long Island Report, a Hofstra student news website, posted a video showing Stein and Honkala being removed by police.

According to the LI Report, Stein said, “If you have done the work to get on the ballot, if you are on the ballot and could actually win the electoral college by being on the ballot in enough states, then you deserve to be in the election and you deserve to be heard,” to a crowd outside the debate hall. “The American people deserve to hear choices which are not bought and paid for by multinational corporations and Wall Street. This is why we are not hearing the critical issues in this debate.”

Prior to her arrest, Stein called the presidential debates a “mockery of democracy.” Based on the release of a secret debate contract between the two major candidates, Stein’s comments aren’t that far off.

Yesterday afternoon Time‘s Mark Halperin published a secret 21-page memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns which lays out the presidential debate rules negotiated by the Commission on Presidential Debates, marking the fourth time the contract has ever been released in the 25 years.

The memo demonstrates how strictly the two parties regulate and monopolize the debates to ensure that topics or potential questions that fall outside the narrow confines of acceptable mainstream discourse are never raised.

For example, at tonight’s town-hall style debate audience members “must ask their question as originally submitted and selected by the moderator and make no other comments.”  Furthermore, “The audience members shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion, and the audience member’s microphone shall be turned off after he or she completes asking the questions.” In case a questioner is inspired to go off script, “[T]he Commission shall take appropriate steps to cut-off the microphone of any…audience member who attempts to pose any question or statement different than that previously posed to the moderator for review.”

The memo even forbids the moderator from asking follow-up questions or commenting “on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate.” The candidates can’t ask each other questions either.

Furthermore, the agreement stipulates that neither candidate can “issue any challenges for additional debates”; “appear at any other debate or adversarial forums except as agreed to by the parties”; “accept any television or radio air time offers that involve a debate format or otherwise involve the simultaneous appearance of more than one candidate.”

Obama and Romney have basically freed themselves from ever having to answer inconvenient questions for which scripted talking points won’t work or that would elicit answers that make them look bad. In other words, the two major party candidates running for our nation’s highest office will never have to acknowledge Obama’s infamous kill list, the assassination of Americans abroad, our racist drug war, record deportations, single payer healthcare, the student debt bubble, worker’s rights, foreclosures  or any other issues that the two parties are practically indistinguishable on.

Meanwhile, the views of third party candidates, like Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson, are silenced by the authoritarian debate protocols of the Democratic and Republican parties and relegated to the independent media airwaves where the majority of voters will never hear them. Any attempts by these candidates to even attend a presidential debate will be met with police force. Yet, we’re convinced we live in a democracy.

  1. nonviolentconflict #

    Reblogged this on NonviolentConflict.

    October 16, 2012
  2. peter hindrup #

    It is a widely misunderstood assumption that the US is, was, or ever meant to be a ‘democracy’.

    Just as misunderstood is the oft heard ‘the US is a force for good in the world’. It never has been. That the US works at ‘spreading democracy’. It doesn’t, never has.

    The US works to ensure that it can flood the markets of emerging nations with its products, and at the same time prevent them from developing any competitive exports or industry..

    Itis arguably the most vicious colonialist in histroy. ,

    October 16, 2012
    • Mark W #

      So, a more vicious colonialist than Spain, Britain, or Rome? Hyperbole, much?

      October 25, 2012
      • Mark W #

        By the way, that’s the only point I’d argue. I think the rest is spot on. 😀

        October 25, 2012
  3. Lynda M O #

    We have a Republic; “If we can keep it!” and a bad republic at that. Representative democracy ended long before the rich got ahold of Congress. Oh wait, the rich have ALWAYS had control. Read the Plan for a New American Century and ask yourself if they don’t do as they said they will and all we do is get in the way.

    “Kill the best and buy the rest.”

    October 16, 2012
  4. Not so convincing (and PS: I am all for third party candidates, and the Green party, and deeply skeptical of the political power of multinationals etc). Sure, a town hall debate should be more spontaneous. But that doesn’t mean the US is not a democracy of sorts. Sitting down on a street to get intentionally arrested is fine, but let’s not pretend the arrest proves that the US is not a democracy.

    October 17, 2012
  5. I couldn’t afford a politician…so I bought this sign:

    “The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates.”

    October 26, 2012
  6. peter hindrup #

    Mark: The Romans conquered, set up roads, administration and demanded recognition in the way of taxes, but didn’t give a damn how you lived, or worshiped, or didn’t, , their administrators were there for, long periods, and mixed with the ‘nobles’ or whoever, who aped the Romans, so that there was a melding at the top, and for the rest they didn’t destroy the way of life of those that they conquered.

    The Spanish, with the little that I have read about them, were religious nuts, plundered on a scale at least equivalent to the ,US, and as I recall stole huge wealth from South America, and two years later the Spanish Empire were broke. (they remind me of another would be empire!) .but nasty as they were, simply are no match for the US.

    British Empire? Well it still existed when I was young, —- Honourable, upstanding, there for the benefit of the ‘savages! —- Like hell!

    Nasty, brutal, vicious, contemptuous of ,any culture, —not sure that they had one themselves — totally destructive of all that they touched, but the Yanks have outdone them in plunder,destruction of cultures, slaughter, and while the Brits did leave some semblance of local administration, the Yanks leave only devastation.

    If you haven’t already, read Chalmers Johnson, ‘the Sorrow of Empire’ as a primer. It is not light reading, and will not help you sleep!

    Morton: As I understand it the minimum necessary for a claim to democracy is that all are equal before the law, living under the rule of law. Throw in that all of a given age are entitled to vote, all votes being equal.

    If you can find any of that in the US, then you have a better microscope than I, and better too, than those to whom I have been privileged to listen, who are far, far more knowledgeable than am I, people with world rated reputations on American history, and most of them

    To the amazement of many, the USers are in fact better at something than is the rest of world. That is being the most brutal, destructive, and vicious colonisers the world has seen. They will also likely prove to be the most incompetent managers of wealth in history.

    October 26, 2012

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