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From sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu Tue Oct 3 11:45:10 2000
From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics)" <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu>
Subject: Nader on today's "presidential debate"
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2000 09:54:35 -0400
X-UIDL: S,R!!c4##!Jo6"!=_i"!

Why Voters Will Lose Out In Tuesday's Debate

By Ralph Nader, in the Boston Globe,
Saturday 30 September 2000

Four years ago a majority of eligible voters, in effect, cast their ballots for "none of the above" in the presidential election. As a result, President Clinton was returned to office in 1996 by only slightly less than 25 percent of the electorate.

Democracy is in a serious crisis when more than 94 million voters stay at home and turn their backs on the precious right to select the people who will lead the nation. Commanding the money, the media, and the access to both the ballots and debates, the Republican and Democratic parties have designed and enforced a closed system that largely shuts out new parties and new ways to strengthen our democracy.

One result has been a decline in voter turnout, a citizenry that increasingly that has lost control of its government, and a nation in which a few wealthy and powerful corporations dictate public policy that does not benefit the majority of Americans.

The two major parties will parade their candidates before the nation in the first presidential debates of this century at the University of Massachusetts at Boston on Tuesday night. On the stage will be two more "look-alike" candidates speaking to a narrow set of issues and avoiding any utterances that might step on the toes of their major corporate donors, who have carefully divided the campaign loot between the two parties.

Absent will be candidates who speak about what to do regarding the excessive concentration of power by big business over our governments, our workplace, marketplace, and environment.

It is not the candidates but the citizenry who will lose out Tuesday night as George W. Bush and Al Gore are allowed to sidestep issues that are important to millions of Americans and the solutions that would improve their lives.

Subject matters that will be avoided by Bush and Gore include: corporate welfare giveaways that could be better used to provide for human needs; weak enforcement against corporate crime, fraud and abuse; restrictive labor laws that are keeping tens of millions of low-wage workers from forming trade unions; media concentration; racism; renewable energy; full public funding of election campaigns; universal, accessible health insurance for all Americans; and the renegotiation of global trade treaties with labor, environmental and consumer rights standards that pull communities up rather than pushing them down.

Instead, viewers will be watching a ritualistic debate by two hereditary politicians financed by corporate cash. It is little surprise that the Commission on Presidential Debates, created and controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties, has chosen to lock significant third-party candidates out of the debates and a national television audience.

Sadly, some commentators have endorsed the exclusion of my Green Party candidacy, which uniquely advocates new tools of democracy based on a long record of achievement.

The Republican and Democratic parties are not an enshrined duopoly in our Constitution. Our society should never let them, by default, control the "Khyber Pass" to tens of millions of voters who will watch these debates. A large majority of the American people want to have leading third-party candidates in the debates.

Anyone who discounts the value of debates in gaining public support has only to look at Minnesota. There, Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler, was mired in third place in the gubernatorial race with poll numbers in single digits. But he was given a place in the debates, and that exposure vaulted him into the governor's chair.

The Minnesota experience weighs heavily on the Democratic and Republican parties. The major-party machines, with their handpicked commission serving as the sole referee, are not about to give up their monopoly control of the debates.

Despite the machinations of the two major parties and their corporate campaign paymasters, citizens still can have the final say in a democracy. If enough people deny them their votes, sooner or later the political machine will have to give up their key to their gated domain.

American democracy does not belong to the decayed Democratic and Republican parties. It belongs to the people, and they should reclaim and rebuild it for themselves and for future generations.

Ralph Nader is presidential candidate for the Green Party.

Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company

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