Third Party & Independents Archives

Non-Partisan or Bi-Partisan

The League of Women Voters will be issuing a press release next week describing the terms necessary for inclusion in the California gubernatorial debate. According to a source at the California League of Women Voters the press release will require candidates to show ten percent statewide support, along with other yet to be named requirements, in order to be invited to the debate.

Peter Camejo, the Green Party's gubernatorial candidate in California and previously Ralph Nader's running mate in the 2004 Presidential election, is alleging that by not inviting all ballot qualified candidates the League would be violating its own non-partisan code.

Camejo certainly has a point. Debates are not merely a place for candidates to go and show their views and personality. Debates are precious FREE press time for all candidates included, and if the League chooses to only invite candidates from the two major parties this is a manner of unfair support to these candidates.

This is not the first time this has happened. In 2002 a poll by ABC television,, showed sixty nine percent of Californians polled wanted Camejo included in that year's debate. Unfortunately Camejo was nonetheless still excluded from the debate, and Grey Davis made it clear that if Camejo was even in the building to watch the debate he would leave.

This is just another way the two major parties help themselves and hurt all other candidates, and democracy in general. But of course the two major parties are going to act in their own self interest, that is what they do. The point to be made here is that a non-partisan organization, the League of Women Voters, will likely be doing the two parties dirty work for them by likely excluding all other candidates from the debate.

Put pressure on the League of Women Voters to include all ballot qualified candidates into the debates:

Contact your local chapter:

Call, fax, or visit the League's National Office:
Phone: 202-429-1965
Fax: 202-429-0854
Address: 1730 M Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036-4508

Call, fax, email or visit the League's California Office:
Phone: 916-442-7215
Fax: 916-442-7362
Address: 801 12th Street Suite #220, Sacramento, CA 95814

Posted by Richard Rhodes at July 19, 2006 6:00 PM
Comment #168957

This is just one more instance where Democrats and Republicans keep others out of “their” sandbox. Of course this is also the reason neither can come up with any new ideas.

Posted by: BAWDYSCOT at July 19, 2006 7:18 PM
Comment #168983

League of FuddyDuddy Women, are at it again. They are a political enity as is the Republicans and Democrat’s and who are they to say you have to have 10% of the voting populations to be able to join their debate.

They are keeping out third parties on purpose, because they don’t want to hear something other then what the Rep/Dem’s have to say.

Also they need to get rid of primary’s. No where in the constitution does it say you have to get X% of votes in a primary to be on a ballot, if I remember my Constitution it has to be President, you have to be a Natural Born Citizen(sorry Arnold), not a felon, and be over 36yrs old, for senate you only have to be 25.

Posted by: KT at July 19, 2006 8:40 PM
Comment #168984

You have to have some way to decide who gets to debate. Otherwise all you have is a free for all and cacophony. When I see a debate, I want to watch only the serious contenders. I am not interested in pretending that some little guy is among them.

I know the third party guys will not like this, but 10% doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. That still means you could have up to ten candidates.

Everyone has the right to speech, but that doesn’t mean that others have to listen to them or facilitate them.

If you are not strong enough to get attention, get stronger.

Posted by: Jack at July 19, 2006 8:40 PM
Comment #168991

The problem with such an argument is it stunts growth, as well as chances of third party candidates and independents. Debates are FREE publicity to all those involved, and by only allowing the two major party candidates this gives them an outlet to capture votes that those not allowed in the debates are not given.

Consider the following hypothetical:
Candidate X is an independent candidate for Governor of California. Candidate X only displays 8 percent support and thus is not allowed to participate in the debate. The debates goes on with Candidate D(Democrat) and Candidate R(Republican) both being invited. After the debate either candidate D or R (whoever was considered the ‘winner’) sees a 4 percent rise in the polls. Now if candidate X was allowed in he or she would have had a chance to capture that 4 percent which after the debate would put X at 12 percent.

The point is again this is FREE FREE FREE publicity.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 19, 2006 8:57 PM
Comment #168993

Jack take a look at who can make it to the dance, it is those that have the money to adverstize themselves and campaign across the country. Other then the 2 main parties, who has all the money and who gets noticed?
Money talks and the little folks get to go home.

What is wrong with a free for all, maybe we could get a real president instead of one trying to be a king. Someone who understands what the middle class working families are going thru, instead of catering to the rich(both main parties do), plus getting some new blood into the system.

Jefferson had it right when he said a democracy needs a revolt every couple of hundred years.

We need to get this country and government back on track, where the government works for the people and what is best for all, instead of a few.

Posted by: KT at July 19, 2006 8:58 PM
Comment #168997

Here’s my solution to the whole thing…

1) Only candidates with more than 10% support are included in the debates; but…

2) The other ballot-qualified candidates, as a group, get to write the questions.


Posted by: Rob Cottrell at July 19, 2006 9:03 PM
Comment #169002

Good start Rob, but if the others write the questions, how do they get to tell the voters their postions on the questions? And of course if they did state their positions, someone would say the questions were rigged for their position and no those in the debates.

Posted by: KT at July 19, 2006 9:32 PM
Comment #169010

It takes so much to get on the ballot now that there is seldom more than 3, 4 or 5 candidates in any race. Now, how is that a ‘cacophony’?

For the presidential race I have a great ‘qualifier’ into the debates.

If you are on the ballot in enough states that if you win in them all you can win enough electoral votes to become president, you’re in.

I think that arbitrary qualifiers, like the league of women voters are pushing, only causes there to be two candidates in the debates and therefore the debates turn into ‘vote for me because the other guy is a putz’ instead of ‘vote for me because I stand for…’

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 19, 2006 9:44 PM
Comment #169013


I hate the two-party system as much as I think you do, but there is such a thing as the voice of the people. Debates are not Constitutionally-mandated, and as a general rule aren’t government-funded, so they have no requirement to be fair to all candidates. Since they’re usually run by the media anyway, they’re going to take the format that appeals to the most viewers. That usually means major-party candidates only. Now, in the case of Ralph Nader, I think a large number of people would have liked to have had in in the presidential debates in 2000, but the two-party lock was just too hard to break.

Honestly, I think a 10% threshold isn’t too unreasonable, if the two major-party candidates are high above that themselves. If there’s a 50/45/5 split, there’s not a real reason to look at the 5% candidate. But if there’s a 25/15/10/10/10/10/7/7/6 split, you might seriously want to add some more contenders.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at July 19, 2006 10:06 PM
Comment #169014


Good start Rob, but if the others write the questions, how do they get to tell the voters their postions on the questions?

Through websites, paid television ads, billboards, yard signs, word-of-mouth, etc. Debates aren’t the only method of getting the word out. In fact, by the time the debates come around, if you don’t ALREADY have 10% support, your chances of winning are pretty much nonexistent.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at July 19, 2006 10:11 PM
Comment #169020

How many people would you allow in the debate? Do you let twenty people in because they can get on the ballot?

Our system is biased toward two parties simply because we have first past the post instead of proportional representation. We sacrifice some diversity of opinion for stability. So far, it has been a good trade. Most of the bad guys have been elected by pluralities of voters. Hitler and Allende would not have been elected in the U.S.

In fact, the last time we had a truly competitive multiparty presidential election in resulted in a civil war.

Posted by: Jack at July 19, 2006 10:45 PM
Comment #169023

Not really, Rob.

Most people who aren’t horribly partisan don’t make up their mind until the debates.

But the real truth is that most polls don’t have all of the candidates on them. Those that do usually add one other candidate, not all. Even the election results only list the top 2 or 3, you have to really dig deep to find anyone else.

What happens is that someone is told that if a candidate is less than 10% of the vote they aren’t worthy to listen to. So they don’t get heard even though there is much to say that if they WERE heard and not catagorized by people who do have free access to the media then they could rise in the polls.

Let’s say that Nadar or Badnarik had garnered, oh, 8% of the vote last election. THIS election their parties might have a much better chance, start out at 8 or 9 percent and then possibly move up. But as long as the american public are told over and over again not to pay attention to a party because ‘they don’t count’, they are going to believe it because they don’t see the evidence that that is not accurate. Couple that with the two parties convincing people to ‘not throw their vote away’ and I wonder what some of these candidate might actually get on election day.

The best example is that most people in the US have a pretty strong libertarian bent. They aren’t full on, but their basic philosophy is best covered by the libertarian party. You even hear year after year that the two major parties don’t represent the majority of american’s views.

But, because the two parties are using the ‘you don’t want to hear the words Speaker of the House Pelosi’ and ‘Anyone But Bush’ campaigns, everyone is too frightened to vote for anyone else and the other people, like Nadar and Badnarik, who would have been able to poke hole after hole in the arguments used in the debates, are effectively shut out of having any meaning at all on bringing the voice of the people into the national debate.

Both the Green and Libertarian parties are making huge ground on the local levels. Hundreds of electec libertarians and hundreds of green candidates in local elections across the country tell us that people are very willing to vote for a 3rd party if they think that it is possible. What we need is to let the ‘people’ know that it IS possible that they can win. Maybe not this year but the next or the next after.

If they only keep supporting and voting for who they want, not against why they don’t want.

Until the other party candidates are allowed to debate the issues for the american people to see and hear them themselves, who are the league of women voters to determine what arguments that can and can’t hear? Who are we to tell americans that a party’s platform is ‘legitimate’ or not?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 19, 2006 10:50 PM
Comment #169024

Rob, you still have a problem with money. Paid tv ad’s, billboards, yard signs, websites take money to buy, purchase, lease. Not all third party candates have it. Even the big parties spend more in certain states then other. With things like websites you have to advertise them, word of mouth is good for local area, but if you are going beyond local like state or national, it still takes money.
I have to agree that the debates when they come around they are usually between the major candiates, and usually after the primaries so you could have 10% but then again maybe not, and it is mostly a staged PR for the candiates.
In my opinion the last good debate was between Kennedy and Nixon, and I was a kid back then.
But you know there is always the write-in. I wonder how many votes Mickey Mouse got last time, I know he would have done a better job then George “goofy” Bush, the supreme courts president.

Posted by: KT at July 19, 2006 10:54 PM
Comment #169026

The last good debate was in 1992 when Perot was included, the debate garnered 70 million viewers which can likely be attributed to the inclusion of Perot.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 19, 2006 11:21 PM
Comment #169031

My atitude is is: Im a third party person and if the League of Women Voters will not let 3rd, 4th of 5th party canidates in the show, well I’ll stay ta home to. If we dont watch and support the event they dont get ads and money, eventually they will learn to be more inclusive,then we the people will get more debaters.

Posted by: j2t2 at July 19, 2006 11:56 PM
Comment #169032

Is the League Of Women Voters afraid a third party or independent candidate will show the Republicans and Democrats up? That’s the only reason I can figure for not letting them debate the main party candidates.

Would you want 10 candidates from the same party on a ballot? The primaries cut down the candidates to one from each party. The others can run if they get enough signatures from the voters. Just not on their party ticket.
Actually it’s surprising that some activist judge hasn’t ruled primaries unconstitutional. Sense the constitution says nothing about primaries.

Posted by: Ron Brown at July 19, 2006 11:57 PM
Comment #169044

Well, there were 135 candidates who qualifed for the ballot in the 2003 California governor special election.

I cannot even imagine a real debate with 135 cadidates. There has to be some cutoff, and 10% sounds more than reasonable.

Otherwise it’s not a debate. It’s a circus, and you’ll have legions of publicity-seeking retired porn-stars and other assorted folks who use their free air-time to try and sell you time-shares, used cars, hair-plugs and who knows what else. Not to mention Gary Coleman.

Posted by: M P at July 20, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #169046

M P:
I agree a 135 person debate would be a circus. However there is a middle ground. First let me say that Peter Camejo ran as the Green Party candidate in that 2003 special election and was included in that debate.

There is a middle ground between 135 and two. I would recommend allowing the top five candidates into the debates. This would likely result in the inclusion of Green and Libertarian candidates, both of which are fast growing parties.

The 2003 California debate had five candidates included and seemed to be well recepted. I found this old article by David Remer on it:

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 20, 2006 1:16 AM
Comment #169076

Reality! Money is the key to everything electoral. What is realistically needed is a cooperation and coalition of third parties and independents such that they can combine contributions to buy air time to conduct their own debates. They should invite the Republocrat candidates and let the chicken hearts decline. It won’t happen over night, but, in a couple of election cycles, these independent debates among third party and independent candidates could gain real attraction and credibility, and leverage the entire system partially away from the duopoly and toward more inclusion of their own candidates.

VOID is working on building this kind of coalition through correspondence with Libertarian, Green, and Independent voter group leaders. We were delighted to find one such coalition already in existence in the South East.

We can complain about why it isn’t, or we can pony up the volunteerism and donations to fund making it happen. What do Republocrats have that all others don’t? Big Money and Big volunteer networks.

It is time for third party and independent voters to pony up the volunteer time and donations to create a coalition and working relationship with each other much like the Republocrats have.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 20, 2006 7:08 AM
Comment #169083

Civil War started because of a multiparty election, never heard that one before, everything I have read, it started because Lincoln was elected and had to sneak into DC to get sworn in, but that is off subject.

I am a independent, and I look at all the parties and people running and decide which one and who fits what I think is best for the country and myself. Now when the debates come up, they are usually after the primaries, so that those that pay attention to it, know what main party candiates are running, and we (if you watch) get to see them put the spin on their views, sometimes they have third party in the debates sometime not. Why not break the debates up between the different such as say there are 20 parties runnning. This week candiates abcdefghij do their debate, next week klmnopqrst do their, third week abcdeoqrstm, 4th week fghijklmno. If I remember right there were 4 debates last time, and have them in different parts of the country.

As for 135 names on a ballot, most people know who is they are voting for when they enter the voting booth, so they must have checked out the candiates before hand, and good for those that tried.

I am not saying it would be easy to do, but some how, some way, we independents/third party have to make other americans aware that there are alternatives other then Republians/Democrate

Posted by: KT at July 20, 2006 8:10 AM
Comment #169090


I’m afraid you aren’t making much sense. YOu first say that the problem with restricting inclusion in the debates is that “it stunts growth, as well as chances of third party candidates and independents. Debates are FREE publicity to all those involved…”

You then later advocate having the top 5 candidates be included in the debates. The only difference between your idea and the LWV’s idea is how to determine inclusivity: you set a specific number of candidates regardless of percentage, while they set a specific percentage regardless of the number of candidates.

You aren’t truly against setting limits then, as you originally state (“Debates are precious FREE press time for all
candidates include…”) emphasis mine

You are simply saying you don’t like the WAY that the LWV wants to exclude people. If you truly don’t want anyone excluded, as you originally stated, then you have to accept the possibility of a 135 candidate debate.

So, the question to you now is how will you restate your position? Either you are for exclusion or against it, or you are willing to have some exclusion depending on the manner it is achieved. Pick your position, but so far you’ve meandered between several.

Lastly, you suggest that the LVW is wanting only two parties included. That’s not at all what they are doing. As Jack pointed out, you could have up to 10 candidates each with 10%. I think you picked out an argument, then went looking for information to bolster it. Unfortunately, the information you picked does not do that.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at July 20, 2006 9:05 AM
Comment #169096


The Civil War did not start because of a multiparty election, but if you studied up on the history a little you would have heard of that before.

The multiparty nature of the 1860 election was a symptom of the trouble in the U.S., not its robust health. More does not mean better.

I don’t believe a long term mulitparty system is possible in the U.S. because of the structure of the way we vote. We usually have kind of two and a half parties, but there is diversity within the big parties. One of the major parties also co-opts the good ideas from the little guys.

To sum up in a few words, I am glad third parties exist. The contribute new ideas and provide alternatives. It doesn’t bother me that they rarely win (we don’t need more Jesse “the Body” Venturas) and I don’t think anything can (or should) be done to change that.

Posted by: Jack at July 20, 2006 9:26 AM
Comment #169104

I agree that we don’t need a Jesse Ventura, but we sure didn’t need Lord Bush for the last 6 yrs either.
The third party candiates do have some good ideas, and so do the 2 major parties at time, but the major parties now are controlled by money and lobbiest. Once they get elected, they forget what they told the little guy, and work for the money that supported them in the beginning.

Oh as far as the civil war goes, with a degree in history, I still never seen anything that says the civil war was caused by 2 many political parties.

Posted by: KT at July 20, 2006 9:46 AM
Comment #169107


I agree with almost everything you said, but your conclusion is invalid…

What happens is that someone is told that if a candidate is less than 10% of the vote they aren’t worthy to listen to.

You have your cause and effect backwards. The people didn’t consider the candidate worth listening to, SO he didn’t get more than 10% of the vote.

There have been “third party debates” in the past (as separate events from the “main party debates”). Guess what? Very few people watched them. Why? Because most people don’t really care about the third parties.

I don’t have the same access to the media that Paris Hilton does. Access Hollywood doesn’t report the details of my private life in the same way they report hers. If I want people to start looking at me, I have to get their attention first.

The same is true for third parties. People are too focused on whether third-party candidates can get into presidential and gubernatorial debates. You can’t just jump on the big stage and expect everyone to look at you. You have to start small. If the Libertarians can be successful at a local level, great! The House of Representatives is filled at a local level! Put your focus there, not on the Presidency.

Once the Libertarians claim, say, 20% of the House, they’ll have seasoned politicians ready to run for Senate seats. And once they have a strong showing in both houses of Congress, people will stop ignoring their presidential candidates.

The point is, you can’t just sit there and scream “I’m a contender, too!” You have to go out and BE a contender.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at July 20, 2006 9:51 AM
Comment #169122


I did not say caused. Symptomatic. The idea that third parties are some kind of solutions is just not supported by experience. In fact, strong third parties are often a sign of trouble. Think Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, Ross Perot. Were they signs of health?

Money and lobbyist will always control parties. Once again, however, we have to look at causality. How do people get money in America? Usually by doing something useful or having a talent that others like. These same people are often natural leaders and experts. Bill Gates has more money than I do. He also knows a lot more about the information industry and has the power to make things happen there. Naturally, his voice should count more than mine in decision making about that subject.

There is no such things as THE little guy. There are lots of individuals with different opinions and desires. There is also the constraint or real possibilities. A politican can promise the hypothetical little guy lots of things, but some of them cannot be done. Finally, conditions change. A promise might be valid and honest, but overtaken by events. I promise my kids to take them to Disney world, but the weather gets bad, for example.

Posted by: Jack at July 20, 2006 10:30 AM
Comment #169176

My statement of letting five candidates into the debates was a direct response to M P who brought up the fact that in 2003 in California 135 candidates were on the ballot. I was speaking to that case, which to my knowledge is rather rare to have that many candidates for a statewide office. When possible I would advocate allowing all candidates in but there is a breaking point, when there are so many candidates and I am not sure exactly what that breaking point is, which makes it impossible to be one hundred percent inclusive.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 20, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #169178


I understand that having 135 candidates in a debate would be impossible, I also recognize that NOT having 135 candidates in a debate sometimes will mean excluding some. You railed against the exclusion of anyone….but then you supported the exclusion of people. Your argument seems to fight against itself.

I personally think if you cannot get a certain percentage of voters or petitions or whatever criteria, then you don’t deserve to be included. There should be some level of public awareness that a candidate needs to get in order to be on the ballot or included in the debate. If you cannot merit that awareness, then your ideas don’t merit the publicity of the debate.

We can discuss the possible ideas of how to limit inclusion, what number of candidates should be included etc. The methodologies can be different, but you are still talking about excluding people, which you decried in your original post. That’s what I was railing against.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at July 20, 2006 1:18 PM
Comment #169228

Jack, Thurmond I will agree with, with Wallace and Perot, I think both of them showed the major parties that something was wrong within their parties that needed to be changed, so at the time yes they were good, it made the major parties sit up and pay attention at least for one election.
Part of the problem is the apathy that the majority of the people have towards politic’s. They were brought up in a Republian or Democart household, so that is how they vote, instead of really looking at the issues and candiates.
With third parties, there is other options, or opinions, and maybe this is complete different then the 2 major parties and will spur thinking and get people involved.

Posted by: KT at July 20, 2006 4:00 PM
Comment #169273


Very few people watched them. Why? Because most people don’t really care about the third parties.

And they were only shown on CSPAN, not aired on ABC, NBC and CBS. I think that that has more to do with it than other people aren’t interested.

Most of the time I talked to people I knew who were fed up with Bush and Kerry as alternatives in 2004 I would mention libertarinism and would often hear that they wished someone like that was running. When I told them there was they looked at me like a deer in headlights. They didn’t realized that there was really anyone who mathematically could win the presidency other than those two. They also didn’t know the name of the candidate. How is someone suppose to know if they like a candidate or not if they’ve never heard of them?

Remember, most people get their political news from one of the big three and the Daily Show.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 20, 2006 7:58 PM
Comment #169680

Here’s my two cents.

Debates should be focused on the people that are realistically electable. addressable by the participants. The Democratic debates featuring a cast of six or eight were a joke. The non-viable candidates were there purely for comic relief.

The presence of bachelor Dennis and the Rev drug the event to whimsical areas and actually reduced the amount of info that was disseminated to the viewing public. The candidates who couldn’t win just pumped their pet issues and forced the viable candidates to concoct some sort of position on relatively minor issues. I realize that this issue inflation may be the goal of third, fourth or fifth party candidates, but the League may not share that goal and it’s their party.

Furthermore, managing that many speakers was very unwieldy and pacing suffered.

Posted by: goodkingned at July 22, 2006 5:39 AM
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