In addition to being entirely shut out of this year’s presidential debates, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested for “blocking traffic” as they attempted to enter the debate at Hofstra University. The women were detained despite the fact that in the video of the arrests the police are much more of an impediment on traffic than the two candidates.
Stein and Honkala have been shut out, despite the fact that the Green Party ticket will be on an estimated 85 percent of ballots this election. The Commission on Presidential Debates stipulates that a candidate must garner at least 15 percent in national polls in order to participate, but national television exposure is a key factor in generating that kind of broad support. Hence, shutting out third-party candidates creates a cyclical suppression in which candidates can’t reach the 15 percent mark precisely because they are denied access to a large audience.
Additionally, there are all kinds of hurdles placed in third-party candidate’s paths as they attempt to collect signatures and support. Ralph Nader was famously kicked off the Oregon ballot in 2004 by the state Supreme Court for “fraud” and “circulator irregularities,” despite the fact that he submitted far more county-verified voter signatures than the 15,306 needed on sheets in full compliance will all statues and all written rules. And that’s only one example of numerous cases of third-party suppression.
Shutting out third-party candidates from debates obviously inflicts damage on the democratic process, but it also waters down the debate. Stein would have been a valuable asset to the dialogue, particularly when 20-year-old Jeremy Epstein posed a question about the bleak future for soon-to-be-graduates.
Here is Stein talking to Forbes’s Peter J. Reilly about her fears for a generation that is being crushed by overwhelming student debt, and how she would prefer we bail out students rather than banks.
Stein would have been the only candidate to propose holding the banks accountable for the systemic fraud that led to the 2008 subprime disaster. President Obama and Governor Romney, having embraced the “look forward, not backward” mantra, refer only to the “tough economic times” in passing, as though it was some terrible bygone era that will never be repeated. In reality, a disastrous bubble-burst will definitely happen again without oversight, regulation and prosecutions of guilty Wall Street firms, and Stein is the only somewhat prominent candidate proposing that.