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May 2015 • Online Edition

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It’s Time To Fix What Is Definitely Broken | Print |  E-mail

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 American voters.

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 done.

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.

Examining 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.

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