Silencing democracy: Greens excluded from Debates

This year, local- and state-level Green candidates are running notably stronger campaigns: many have years of experience as elected officials, are in touch with the values and needs of their constituents, and are willing and eager to do the grassroots organizing necessary to challenge the status quo. Yet in many major markets, they are notably absent from debates—because Democrat and Republican candidates are running scared.
Maybe the two corporate parties see the writing on the wall when they read reports of recent polls, which show voters leaving both parties to register as independents? Perhaps they are afraid that when voters presented with Green solutions to today’s problems the talking points of the two pro-war, corporate parties do not stack up with the values of regular (not corporate!) citizens.

Aaron Dixon with supporters outside of King-5 TV -photo by Wendy Call
After arriving at Seattle’s King-5 TV station with 75 campaign volunteers and supporters holding signs saying “Let Dixon Debate,” police arrested Green Party Senate candidate Aaron Dixon for trying to enter the studio. Dixon had hoped to take part in what would later be described as the “Millionaire’s Debate”—so called because co-sponsors KING-5 and the Seattle Times made raising $1 million a requirement for participation. While recent polls indicate that voters are six times more likely to support Dixon than Libertarian candidate Bruce Guthrie, Dixon was barred from participating because he failed to meet the $1 million campaign chest requirement. (Guthrie, on the other hand, met the 7-figure hurdle by taking out a mortgage on his house.) All this after operatives from Democrat incumbent Maria Cantwell tried, unsuccessfully, to bribe Dixon into withdrawing his candidacy.

Illinois Radio Network invited top gubernatorial candidates to a televised debate scheduled on October 2, including Green candidate Rich Whitney. After learning he would have to debate Rich Whitney, the Democrat candidate Rod Blagojevich backed out, leading the station to cancel the debate. Despite being shut out of the debates, Rich Whitney’s poll numbers are steadily rising. He is currently at 14%—more than any statewide candidate from a nationally organized third party has received in Illinois in over 100 years.

In New York and Wisconsin, the League of Women Voters, an organization with a history of facilitating open and democratic debates, withdrew their sponsorship when Green Party candidates were shut out of the debates, citing their organization’s commitment to nonpartisanship. In Connecticut, Green Governor Candidate Cliff Thornton purchased advertising time to air a campaign promotion during the very debate that he was denied entry to! Green Party candidates have won almost 40% of their elections this year. When given the opportunity, more and more voters are choosing to vote for a party that represents their values. Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the New York Green Party pointed out that “a growing number of voters find the artificial restriction of debates to Democratic and republican candidates a complete sham. When alternative candidates are included, both viewership and voter turnout increase. When Independent candidate Jesse Ventura was included in the Minnesota gubernatorial debates, he went form 10% in the polls to over 30% in just a few weeks. And then he became governor. That would never have happened had he been excluded from the debates. This is why major party candidates strive to keep the public from hearing alternative candidates.”

Tell the media that excluding Green Party candidates from debates is an attack on democracy and the public’s right to make informed choices!

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