Open Up Debates, Let Real Democracy Flower
Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Blair Bobier For The Register-Guard
Despite the fact that most Americans now favor ending the war in Iraq, the presidential candidates for the two establishment parties spent most of their first debate posturing about who would do a better job with the continued occupation of that nation. The notion of a swift exit, supported by most Americans, wasn't discussed at all.
When the two parties' vice presidential candidates met in their only debate and discussed health care, neither offered a solution that would provide insurance coverage for all of the 47 million people in our country who are uninsured.
How can participants in the highest level of political dialogue ignore majority opinion and the most critical issues facing us today?
It's because the restricted, scripted and staged exchanges are not really debates, nor are they intended to present solutions or a wide range of political options. The "debates" sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, an entity founded and operated by the two old parties, have about as much in common with real debates as World Wrestling Entertainment does with the Olympics.
Unfortunately, sham debates are just the tip of the iceberg. Lurking beneath the icy waters is a mountain of deceit that we call "democracy."
Breaking this news to adults is likely to be received as well as telling a 5-year-old that Santa Claus doesn't exist. While there's no problem in kids indulging in harmless fantasies, it can be downright dangerous for the rest of us to presume that we live in a democracy. We don't.
The United States was never intended to be a democracy. The word "democracy" appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. This nation's founders created a government that considered Africans slaves and women incapable of voting. Freeing the slaves and giving women the right to vote were just two steps toward becoming an enlightened civilization and a true democracy. We have many more steps to take.
We can start by opening up the debates to more choices and more voices. Debates aren't just about who is going to win an election; they are the only forum where we can have unrestricted dialogue about the critical issues. Restricting debates to two parties severely limits our potential for progressive change.
Debates including third party and independent candidates have had a profound effect on recent American politics. …