Sunday, July 20, 2008

kavips on the importance of third-party voices in political debates

I won't have to note this for Delaware readers, but for my out-of-state Libertarian visitors, progressive blogger kavips (who is rightly considered one of the intellectual heavyweights in the DE blogger mafia) has taken up the issue of third-party treatment (using Libertarians as the example) in the current political year.

From Don’t Even Say It: kavips found a Common Thread Between Libertarians and Dennis Spivack:

What I am comparing in my title above, are the numerous long articles detailing the plight of Libertarian candidates across this country, to the controversy reported ably in Down with Absolutes back in 2006, where candidate Spivack objected to allowing the Green’s third party candidate to participate in a debate. Spivack did not want his message watered down; Castle obviously benefited from having the Spivack message watered down, and a Green Party walkout ensued, which looked just petty. Spivack lost points in that exchange. Two years later, I think we can safely say: it was petty. Castle won that round…

But today Libertarians are facing challenges all across this country. Many of them are sharp candidates, better mentally prepared, than the party regulars with which they are competing…..

I think we can learn from this year’s unlimited number of Presidential Debates. The debates were better when there were more candidates debating. In fact, I remember someone feeling strongly that ABC should be boycotted for Jerry-Springertizing one of the later debates. Early in a campaign, ideas should be the star. Later its the candidates turn…. The best example of a third party influencing the entire election, would be the 20% Ross Perot garnered in 1992. He controlled the topics which were discussed, and neither candidate got a chance to derail the topic from what America needed to hear. To this day, I firmly believe it was Ross Perot who gave us our balance budget in 1999, by making it a campaign issue that had to be accepted by a major party, therefore get acted upon. I do not remember Bill Clinton having any intention of balancing the budget until he started getting outflanked by Perot….

The benefit of having a third party candidate, is that no gentleman’s or gentle-woman’s agreement “not to discuss” certain controversial topics, can continue. The issues seeking redress, get asked by the 3rd party candidate who has nothing to lose…… I have become convinced that limiting a third party candidate like Michael Munger in North Carolina, from speaking in debates, limits the quality of the entire campaign as a whole. There is no accountability with either of the two primary party candidates……

There are several hurdles that Libertarian and other third-party candidates must overcome before they get truly into the mainstream in open competition with the Demopublican monopoly:

1) Sustained, regular coverage of Libertarian candidates as serious contenders rather than curiosities in the mainstream media, such as is occurring in North Carolina and Georgia for candidates like Mike Munger and Allen Buckley, but is not yet happening for Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root.

2) Regular, reported inclusion in polls, which is happening in North Carolina (but not Georgia) and to the Libertarian presidential ticket.

3) Attention in major political blogs as legitimate participants in the public debate, which is beginning to happen everywhere, as the one ideal that seems to unite conservative and progressive bloggers alike is a commitment to open government and a fair electoral process.

4) Inclusion in the major candidate forums and debates, which has happened in Georgia and Wyoming, but not yet in North Carolina or the Presidential debates.

To kavips, to BlueNC, and to all the other bloggers who are not Libertarians, but whose sense of fairness and commitment to the best possible public examination of all options and candidates, please accept our thanks: you're helping us make a difference.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

(you can now erase the "David" since it no longer is reflected in the original post....

I wouldn't want my faux paux to insult more North Carolinians...)

By the way, thank you for the mention.