Excluded issues and excluded candidates: The charade we call our presidential debates

October 6, 2012 | By | Reply More

How the Democrats and Republicans manage to keep excluding third-party and fourth-party candidates from the debates, even after the corporate media has excluded them from the entire campaign? Amy Goodman of Democracy Now discusses this topic with the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. These two candidates also offer their own views on the issues, views not considered by Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama. Goodman calls her exploration of this issue “Expanding the Debate.”

Glenn Greenwald has also written about what is missing from this campaign and why:

The vast majority of the most consequential policy questions are completely excluded from the process. . . . presidential elections are now conducted almost entirely like a tawdry TV reality show. Personality quirks and trivialities about the candidates dominate coverage . . . leaving little room for substantive debates.

But in larger part, this exclusion is due to the fact that, despite frequent complaints that America is plagued by a lack of bipartisanship, the two major party candidates are in full-scale agreement on many of the nation’s most pressing political issues. As a result these are virtually ignored, drowned out by a handful of disputes that the parties relentlessly exploit to galvanise their support base and heighten fear of the other side. Most of what matters in American political life is nowhere to be found in its national election debates.

I agree with Goodman and Greenwald (and George Carlin) that Americans are given only the illusion of choice. Our choices of candidates is incredibly narrow. It’s much like the choices a toddler is given, e.g., by a parent who says, “Would you like to eat your carrots now, or in 2 minutes?”

What topics are missing from the debates (and from the entire campaign? Here are some of the biggest elephants in the room:

The destructive American War on Drugs.
The prison-industrial complex (we have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners).
The secret and indiscriminate use of drones by the U.S.
The unending willingness of the U.S. to fight undeclared and thus illegal wars.
To what extent are farm subsidies necessary?
Why aren’t we fully supporting NASA and rigorous scientific research that does not have military application?
The growing domestic surveillance state that now monitors and records even the most innocuous activities of all Americans;
Job-killing free trade agreements
The Obama justice department’s refusal to prosecute the Wall Street criminals who precipitated the 2008 financial crisis.
Justification for our obsessive support for Israel and our hostility toward Iran.
Our failure to slash our military budget and cease our warmongering.
Our illegal prosecution of Wikileaks.
Our failure to invest heavily in sustainable energy.
Our failure to take global warming seriously.
Meaningful Campaign finance reform.
The failure to put people back to work on a large scale basis, by use of a government stimulus.
The failure to put meaningful money into our schools, especially our pre-schools and grade schools, where that money has been proven to do much good.
The failure to discuss NDAA, indefinite detention with charges, and the Patriot Act.
The need to wean ourselves of fossil fuels, including the lie that is “clean coal.”
Our failure to reenact Glass-Steagall
The danger of forcing Americans to buy insurance from quasi-monopolistic for-profit insurance companies, and our failure to have a single-payer health system.
Our failure to constantly audit the Federal Reserve.
The destructive effect of ubiquitous binding mandatory arbitration contracts.



Category: Campaign Finance Reform, Censorship, Corporatocracy, Corruption, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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