Thursday, October 17, 2013

No Room For Debate

Morgan Pehme
City and State

Just last week a Gallup poll found that only 26 percent of Americans believe that the two major parties adequately represent them, and 60 percent of the country thinks that a viable third party is needed in the United States.

In light of these findings, as well as statistics that show approximately one-third of voters nationwide identify themselves as independents, the decision to deny the third-party candidates for mayor of New York City a place on the stage in yesterday’s televised debate is all the more unacceptable.

While the Independence Party’s nominee, Adolfo CarriĆ³n, made the biggest stink about being excluded from the debate, all of the third-party candidates would be right if they feel indignation at their mistreatment. For the record, there are twelve others on the ballot: Jack Hidary, Randy Credico, Erick Salgado,  Jimmy McMillan, Daniel Fein, Anthony Gronowicz, Joseph Melaragno, Carl Person, Michael Sanchez, Michael Dilger, and Sam Sloan.

The criteria used to exclude third-party candidates both from national and local debates are demonstrative of how the electoral system is rigged to protect the “two-party dictatorship,” as former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura called it in a recent interview with City & State. Candidates are prohibited from participating unless they raise a certain amount of money and poll at a certain percentage—the thresholds for yesterday’s debate were $750,000 and 5 percent, respectively—yet, of course, the most likely way for candidates without the benefit of a major party’s backing to raise a significant amount of money and increase their standing in the polls (if indeed their names are even being included in them) is to have the platform of a televised debate to make their case to the electorate.

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