Darryl W. Perry: The “dire consequences” of debate criteria that are “too high”


Darryl W. Perry is an anarchist writer, radio talk show host and political activist who ran for the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. Perry presently serves as the vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire. He published the following on FPP.cc yesterday:

It seems the 2016 Presidential election cycle will never end, however it’s only a couple of months away and the general election debates are fast approaching. The general election Presidential debates involving the Republican and Democratic Party candidates are hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates, who invite all candidates averaging 15% in 5 hand-selected polls. Since this 15% requirement was added in 2000, no candidate outside of the ruling duopoly has been invited onto the debate stage. In fact, the only time a candidate outside the duopoly was on the debate stage with their two major party counterparts was in 1992 when Ross Perot was allowed to debate George H.W. Bush & Bill Clinton.

A recent lawsuit from the Libertarian & Green Party Presidential nominees alleging violations of anti-trust laws was dismissed, meaning that Gary Johnson, Jill Stein or any other Presidential contender needs to meet the 15% polling requirement in order to get invited to the CPD hosted debates.

One of the arguments in favor of the 15% threshold is that a debate would bee to unwieldy if everyone running were invited. This argument falls apart when looked at rationally. First off, the other criteria require a candidate to be constitutionally eligible, sorry Deez Nuts, and “[a]ppear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College.” When Gary Johnson says there will be “dire consequences” for his campaign if he’s not invited into the CPD debates, most people will write it off as some form of sour grapes over not being invited. However, when Bernie Sanders says he believes the CPD requirement is “too high” and thinks the vote threshold “should be lower” people may start to realize there is a problem with the Presidential debates.

If the 15% requirement were removed, this election would see two more candidates (Johnson & Stein) invited to the main debates. Secondly, a debate with 4, 5 or even 6 candidates is not unwieldy, nor uncommon. During the primary season, including the months leading up to the Iowa Caucus, the GOP held 12 debates (not including candidate forums not sanctioned by the RNC) all of which included at least 4 of the 17 declared GOP Presidential candidates; 8 of the debates included 7 or more candidates, and three debates had at least 10 candidates on stage.

If the purpose of the debates are to actually inform the voting public about the candidates, the only legitimate debate would include all ballot-listed candidates. Or was Nancy Neuman correct 28 years ago when she said the CPD takeover of the debates was “a fraud [perpetrated] on the American voter”?

5 thoughts on “Darryl W. Perry: The “dire consequences” of debate criteria that are “too high”

  1. Be Rational

    George Wallace only got 13% of the vote nationwide. He would have been excluded by the CPD for being below 15%, but he carried 5 states, winning 46 electoral votes and was a close second in several other states nearly tipping the race into the House of Representatives. Should a candidate like that be excluded?

    15% is way too high.

    A candidate with just 30% could win 270 Electoral Votes under many secenarios. The CPD requirement is an obvious ploy to rig elections in America.

  2. dL

    I actually agree with the 15% cutoff. The mathematical requirement for winning the presidency is pretty low barrier, actually. You just have to be on a few state ballots. If you make that the standard, then you would more or less have to allow everyone in. That would quickly become a zoo once folk realized one just needed to get on a few state ballots, spend a few bucks to get into the presidential debates.

    To make the requirement a mathematical chance of winning an electoral college majority seems a bit arbitrary if your objective is to have a competitive race between N parties(where N >2). In that event, no ticket would likely to be favored to win an electoral college majority. At least not as an automatic assumption. The likely unintended consequence of this would be the major parties to to make it a high priority to begin a 50 state campaign to toughen up ballot access laws everywhere.

    To reduce the polling number from 15% down to say 5% would virtually guarantee the LP would an expropriation target every 4 years for some republican-lite has been or malcontent with some degree of name recognition.

    I see the 15% barrier as forcing a minor party ticket to have to work for it. TeamGov’s strategy was (1) first they had to get into the debates, THEN (2) they would start to run a serious campaign. To me, that’s the cart pulling the horse. The 2 party duopoly may be a despised thing, but lowering the threshold likely guarantees that the only challengers to it will be scoundrels, con men and saboteurs.

  3. Just Some Random Guy

    Honestly, I find having the debate criteria be polls to begin with is wrongheaded from the start. Polls are far from perfect indicators; even ignoring things like margin of error and the fact the confidence isn’t 100%, it gets skewed by some people being more willing or able to answer polls than others. It should be set on something far more objective and without margin of error, such as getting on the ballot in enough states to potentially win a majority of the electoral college.

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