by Paul Kashmann
Where, oh where to start?
The ballot greeting Colorado voters this fall
lists Barack Obama as the candidate for president of the United States from the
Democratic Party. It lists Mitt Romney as the presidential candidate from the
Republican Party. Through the auspices of the Commission on Presidential
Debates (CPD) you got to know these two recently when – along with their
running mates and spin doctors – they monopolized dozens of hours of
prime viewing time on network television, explaining how differently they would
behave in the process of maintaining the status quo for wealthy, white males.
(Yeah, I know, POTUS is black, and he is wealthy. The numbers still tilt
overwhelmingly in the direction of Caucasia.)
Strangely, the 2012 Colorado ballot also
lists 14 other individuals who have met the qualifications to be listed on the
ballot as candidates for the highest office in the land. Apparently, they are
good enough for you to vote for, but not good enough to be given time to tell
you why you should.
In addition to the two parties that have
currently joined together to paralyze our government, Coloradans can vote for
candidates of the Green Party; Libertarian Party; Socialist Party; the
Socialist Workers Party; the Socialist Equality Party; the Party for Socialism
and Liberation; the Justice Party; Peace & Freedom Party; Objectivist
Party; American Third Position Party; America’s Party; and two independent
presidential candidates: Jill Reed of Wyoming, and Sheila Tittle of Virginia.
All of the non-establishment candidates are
priced out of the mass media advertising that the U.S. Supreme Court (à la
Citizens United) has set up as the playground of the wealthy and anonymous (see
article on Ken Gordon, pg. 4), and they are shunned by the agency (CPD) ostensibly
established to present an open airing of relevant issues and options to the
I would venture to say that less than 5
percent of you can tell me what ANY of the 14
candidates besides Obama and Romney have to say. And if we eliminate Green
Party candidate Jill Stein, that number probably drops to 2 percent at best.
While I can’t tell you that all 14 are chock full of valuable plans that would
change the course of American democracy, simple odds tell me that several of
them just might.
What I can
guarantee you is, if we allow the Republicans and Democrats to maintain their
stranglehold over the electoral process, they have no reason to do anything
other than trade power back and forth with very little actually changing, and
provide us with the comforting delusion that we have a real choice in how this
country is run and where it is headed.
At a point in time when we desperately need
to hear alternative priorities and solutions to important national and
international issues, it is beyond disturbing that not once in those four debates did either the moderators or
the candidates utter the words “climate change.” I don’t want Iran to have a
nuclear weapon either, but who cares if they do, if we’re going to melt the
whole ball of wax anyway?
Is there no place
in the national discussion for the issues raised over the past couple of years
by the Occupy movement? Is it of no concern that an ever-greater percentage of
our wealth continues to gather in the hands of an ever-smaller portion of the
populace? Do we really just want to continue down that road?
Are you satisfied to let discussions of
economic issues – no matter how critical – give the candidates
license to virtually ignore matters of women’s rights, gay rights, veterans
rights, immigration or issues related to our children?
Your Washington Park Profile publisher was on hand in the Media Filing Center (Hamilton Gymnasium)
at the University of Denver, watching the first presidential debate on
big-screen TVs along with a couple thousand of the world press. Before the
debate was even over, the Filing Center was flooded by spinmeisters
from either side, eagerly spewing their party line at how well their guy had
Anyone watching knew that Romney had been very
aggressive and done his team a good job, whereas the President had sleepwalked
through the 90 minutes, and simply stunk up the joint, leaving his loyalists
stunned and disappointed.
But to hear Rudy Giuliani go on and on
spewing hateful venom about the President’s lack of moral character and
unspeakable failures, or David Plouffe’s pathetic
attempt to defend his candidate’s performance as “measured” and “presidential”
was simply beyond the pale.
It is beyond ridiculous that reporters flew
to Denver from around the world for this charade, in an attempt to grab some
footage and a quote showing them in the same frame as some hired political
hack. The resources expended have to be completely out of line with the public
benefit received. DU did a great job putting on the event, and I hope the world
got a favorable glimpse of that fine institution. And I hope they pass if given
the opportunity for a repeat.
The game must change. If there are to be
formal debates sponsored by an agency that portends to act in the public
interest, the conversation must be blown wide open. That public interest would
not be well served by a panel of 16 candidates, but I’m thinking four or five
would be workable. I mean, how many oppportunities do
you want to give each candidate to ignore the question, and
shift back to their canned party line?
I want to hear Mitt Romney debate an avowed
Socialist who is not afraid to defend his concepts for fear of political
retribution, and I want to hear Barack Obama defend his environmental record to
Jill Stein. I would love to have heard both men discuss our military policies
with Stein, or Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson.
I’m a left-leaning guy, so I had a chuckle
when Obama threw the “horses and bayonets” riff at Mr. Romney. And it is a
total damn shame that a “zinger” like that was the most memorable moment of the
whole multi-zillion dollar shebang.
the candidates for President of the United States is far too important to be
relegated to a dress rehearsal for Saturday
Night Live. Far too many voices
are not being heard. Open the debates. Let freedom ring.