Home | About | Donate

The Parties Are Ruining the Primary Debates


The Parties Are Ruining the Primary Debates

George Farah

During this election, the Republican and Democratic parties have asserted unprecedented control over the primary debates, and the results have been disastrous.


“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
--George Washington


For the sake of our democracy, party control over presidential debates must be diminished.

Democracy? What democracy? Thanks to this country's corrupt, decaying two party system's stranglehold on government, national elections have sunk to banana republic status, the only difference being they cost more. The so-called debates sponsored by the two parties are now little more than an hour long TV campaign ads. They're about as real as professional wrestling matches.


i have a fundamental disagreement with the premise of this argument.

Political parties are private, voluntary associations. They are not part of the government. They are not in the Constitution. They should not be granted special status, and there should be no government support or funding for any party candidate selection process. There should be no party primaries.

Elections should be between candidates. Candidates must meet basic qualifications to run: citizenship, residency, age, and some threshold level of public support (not based on money or campaign contributions): certain number of petition signatures, etc.

Political parties can organize, and run candidates, but only by meeting the basic qualifications to appear on the ballot. Parties can choose their party candidates in any way they want: polls, party member vote, party convention, selection by party leadership; but any party-selected candidate, still must meet the basic qualifications to appear on the ballot.

After the deadline for ballot qualification, there should be a time-limited campaign season (60 or 90 days), in which all the ballot-qualified candidates campaign, and debate. Then we the people vote.


And this is one piece of the restructure of the architecture of elections that we need.

For example, since this will enable multiple candidates to qualify for the election, we need score voting, or approval voting (the simplest form of score voting), or any form of instant runoff voting, so that:

  • No voter ever has to choose "the lesser of two evils" and no vote is ever "wasted";
  • No candidate ever needs to worry about being a "spoiler";
  • One ballot is all that is needed to choose the winner.


I am repeating the following from the article to remind Green Party supporters, and/or Jill Stein fans why Mr. Sanders did NOT take those routes:

"Every four years, the Commission excludes third-party and independent candidates and allows the major party nominees to excessively shape the debate formats behind closed doors.

"For the sake of our democracy, party control over presidential debates must be diminished. If the major parties only permit limited and exclusionary primary debates, and if the Commission on Presidential Debates shuts out third-party and independent challengers from general election debates, then only a handful of party-approved or celebrity candidates have a chance to run for president."

The system, as set up, self-selects those most likely to conform to its already existing status quo. Sanders would not have been able to get as far as he has had he sought to be a total outlier.


Debates are nothing but a dog and pony show for the masses to make them think they live in a democracy. And this year they have added a buffoon to make the show more entertaining. And what further proof does one need when a " REAL CANDIDATE" Dr. Jill Stein is denied access to the debates!


In past elections third party candidates have been given de facto restraining orders to not even attend, let alone participate in debates. Those who disobeyed were arrested when they showed up.


Great comment webwalk. I might add that it should be easy to run for office, not the complicated system that it is today that requires teams of lawyers and eliminates "gotcha" rules. I often ask my students in a Texas College how do you run for office in the City of Houston or the State of Texas and they do not have a clue.


I think what is sad are the few voices out there---and I know the real issue is a corporate media. And I have to say this ----I don't get Jill Stein leading the green movement?--Just look at Flint and water as a resource, a part of the commons-does the green party have any views on this. When I see Jill Stein interviewed she seems very quiet with little passion.


A very well thought and educated statement and suggestion. Now let's get at it and take back our government. Please read "Devil's Chessboard" and "Dark Money."


Yeah, i've got boatloads of well thought-out analyses and prescriptions. :wink: The hard part is "let's get at it and take back our government." :rage:


Yeah, the more I read and study, the longer I live ( made it to 70 so far) the more I think it might be too late. The crooks just might be too established. From the American Century to the Project for a New American Century those bastards just will not give up! Oh well, I think I'll go watch TV. Some of my favorite, entertainment news? shows are coming on. lol


Can you remind the forum's Jill Stein supporters of that fact.


Nader and Stein are indeed two examples that come to mind.