Common Dreams - October 5, 2020

Members of the two-party establishment complain that third parties are spoilers. Lately, however, there has been little for the third parties to spoil. Historically despite the barriers and outright repression, they have faced third-party populist and socialist movements had a productive influence on the New Deal.

The organization most responsible for the debacle of the first Presidential debate offered an implicit apology and a promise. “Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues. The CPD [Commission on Presidential Debates] will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.” The future of this year’s debates will depend as much on the virus and the President’s health as on any decisions of the commission. Nonetheless, an analysis of the commission’s role in this shameful event yields valuable insights into the origins of our current political state.

Pundits critical of the debate have focused on the participants while paying little attention to the debate organizer. I would bet that the vast majority of viewers think the Commission on Presidential Debates is some sort of government agency, established by Congress. Instead, it is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation sponsored by corporate and foundation support. In 2016 major contributors included Anheuser Bush and AARP.

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