Those of you old enough to remember the 1992 Presidential Debates, will surely recall the addition of Ross Perot to the mix. Perot, a billionaire, fought his way into that fray with Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, adding a modicum of both humor and excitement into the fray. Many of Perot’s thoughts were put forth on the popular Larry King Live TV show night after night, helping him to be added to the debate forum for that election. Winding up, amazingly, finishing in third place, receiving close to 19 percent of the popular vote, the most won by a third-party presidential candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.
Now, I’m not advocating another Perot, but what about a Ben Carson, or an Elizabeth Warren, maybe Carly Fiorina…will they be allowed into the inner sanctum of presidential debatedom? At this point, probably not. And I, for one, feel that is very unfortunate. We’re staging an arena where the American populace gets an opportunity to hear the ideas, beliefs, and suggested actions to be put forth by the highest office holder in our world…why not allow more rather than less to participate? It is a rather important decision, after all.
After Perot shook up the status quo, the Commission on Presidential Debates made sure such an addition was unlikely to happen again. Ross had the others in the debate wiping the beads of sweat off their upper lips by introducing subjects and questions that neither would have otherwise mentioned. That is what the debates should be about, after all.
Listening to a podcast by Dan Carlin, I was moved to wonder, “why NOT allow more into the mix. Isn’t that a better way for us to make an informed decision?” Carlin referenced an article published on TheHill.com, by Jonathan Easley, asking why we should not add independent voices to the debate. It seems a new national campaign, Change the Rule, is pushing for the Commission on Presidential Debates to include a third-party party and/or independent candidate in next year’s debates. Fantastic! But unfortunately, the requirements established by the Commission on Presidential Debates make it almost impossible for a lesser-known candidate to be welcomed into the debates. Is that true democracy?
Change the Rule estimates that to receive 15 percent popular support in a poll, a nonmajor party candidate would have to spend close to $300 million to reach parity with the major party candidates.
It is time that these rules were adjusted, so a real, proven candidate can participate in these debates. Otherwise, we have to be satisfied with the outcome, an outcome that could again give us the likes of a Barrack Hussein Obama to “fundamentally change America”. God help us.