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October 28, 2014
By Jason Scheurer
The U.S. electoral system is a farce. It is controlled with the same mastery with which Coke and Pepsi dominate the soda market. It is sold to the American public as if the free and open exchange of ideas is what’s inside, but the hidden ingredients are toxic to the body politic.
The story of Election 2014 will be how Libertarians (and some Independents) were, and will continue to be, a deciding factor in statewide elections despite the constant roadblocks. No longer polling at 1–2 percent, the jump to the 6–8 percent range looks to rewrite the political playbook that campaign workers have used for generations.
The Republican and Democratic establishment (yes, establishment, in the singular) is well aware of this and are colluding to do everything in their power to quash this growing game changer. They may say they disagree on almost everything but they are 100 percent in agreement that no one other than themselves should ever be heard.
In the entire 2014 election cycle not a single high ranking Republican or Democrat took a principled stand and demanded inclusion of all eligible candidates on the debate stage. In states like Florida the legacy party candidates bickered about portable fans rather than civil liberty violations.
The background for this insidious miscarriage of representative government was established back when Ross Perot ran for office in 1992. The panic that spread through the Establishment fostered a call for a new way to combat any upstart — even those who are billionaires — from gaining access to the political arena. The weapons of choice were restrictive ballot access laws and unrealistic debate requirements employed to thwart anyone without very deep pockets and a network of followers cultivated over many years.
The magic 15 percent threshold for inclusion in any presidential debate is the establishment trump card. It was selected because it provides the illusion of fairness while effectively eliminating anyone but the Republicans and Democrats from holding office. It’s important to note that before being included in the 1992 debates Ross Perot was polling at only 7 percent and would have been excluded under current requirements. His inclusion in the 1992 debates rocketed his numbers higher in the final election total to 18.91 percent, the largest debate-to-final election percentage gain in history. Somehow, when he ran again in 1996 this billionaire did not qualify to appear in the presidential debates, being denied access by means of the 15 percent rule. This malicious exclusion was by design, not by chance.
In response to the growing corruption, the League of Women Voters dropped its sponsorship of the presidential debates back in 1988, labeling them “a fraud on the American voter.” Walter Cronkite referred to them as an “unconscionable fraud.”
Unfortunately, the presidential debate model has been adopted by many states without any legal or legitimate public discussion. There has been no honest conversation about whom should be included in debates, whether high profile or not, reminiscent of the old joke likening Democracy to two wolves and a sheep trying to decide what to have for dinner.
Fast-forward to today and the shenanigans continue. In races like those in Kentucky, Florida, and Virginia debate guidelines were being rewritten and manipulated with the express intent of excluding legitimate and qualified candidates.
Take, for example, Rob Sarvis in Virginia. This Harvard and Cambridge graduate with an NYU law degree and married to a pediatrician did not qualify to have his message heard. After being excluded from the gubernatorial race debates in 2013 because he didn’t poll an average of 10 percent, his 2014 U.S. Senate race faced an expanded polling hurdle to that magic 15 percent number. In other debates where there were no polling requirements at all he was never even invited.
The highly covered Kentucky Senate race, which had been receiving national attention, included a Libertarian. David Patterson, a second shift working police officer, sued to be included in the one official debate on public television. At a time when Ferguson, Missouri, was a policing hot spot with many minority voters, why have on stage a police officer who was advocating for the demilitarizing of local law enforcement?