The presidential and vice presidential debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit corporation that mandates that a candidate have at least 15 percent support in national polls to participate.
Since the CPD took over running the debates in 1988, only once has a third party candidate been allowed to participate: In 1992, when Ross Perot joined Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush on the debate stage.
The dominance of the two major parties at the debates has critics charging that the system is effectively rigged to shut out other voices. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president and former New Mexico governor, has sued on anti-trust grounds to be included this year. The CPD, he said in an interview, is designed “to protect the interests of Republicans and Democrats.”
George Farah, the author of “No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates” and the executive director of Open Debates, calls the 15 percent criteria “absurdly high,” noting that candidates who reach five percent support qualify for public funding if they reached five percent support in past elections.
“Third parties have played critical issues in raising issues that are critical to the conversation in this country,” he said, pointing to the abolition of slavery and the creation of Social Security and public schools. “When you exclude them from the debate, you have a sort of ideological containment.”
“Despite the fact that 40 percent of the country is independent and hungry for an alternative, third parties face herculean structural barriers,”
(Excerpt) Read more at cbsnews.com …