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Open the Debates

pudge posted more than 10 years ago | from the because-they-are-closed dept.

Democrats 142

An anonymous user writes, "It's time to let the George W. Bush and John Kerry campaigns know that the American people want them to participate in real, democratic and engaging presidential debates hosted by the Citizens' Debate Commission." Briefly, Presidential debates have been run by the Commission on Presidential Debates since 1988, and the CPD is run by the Republican and Democratic parties, which has resulted in less informative and less watched debates that exclude third parties and anything else that could hurt the two parties. The CDC, in cooperation with Open Debates, is trying to improve the debates by removing the bipartisan control."Please do not be shy. Senator Kerry and President Bush are campaigning to be your public servants, and you should not hesitate to remind them of your wishes. Kerry campaign: 202-712-3000; Bush campaign: 703-647-2700. Please call this week! The major party campaigns have assembled their high-profile debate negotiating teams, and they will soon begin debate negotiations. Finally, Open Debates' Executive Director George Farah will be appearing on ABC World News Now tonight (sometime between 1am and 3am EST, for those of you still awake), and on ABC News Now Thursday morning at 6am EST. (They are different programs.)"

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And this is an issue because? (1, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195076)

C'mon, if you want to have a debate, invite whomever you like to it - Bush, Kerry, Nader, Gore, me, your grandmother.

Don't expect people to come just because you invite them, or to stay away just because you don't (as witnessed last time through).

Yes, the debates are organized and run by the Republicrats. Or the Democans, I forget which.

Ostensibly, the reason they refuse to allow minor candidates (defined as doing really poorly in the polls, less than 5%, I think) is because having fifteen candidates in a two hour debate lets you give each candidate ~6 minutes to talk (after subtracting time for commercials). Which means that you'll get a few sound-bites suitable for the evening news, and nothing else worthwhile.

Realistically, Presidential debates would need to be days long, if you allowed all the candidates.

And frankly, if this new bunch just wants to lower the bar far enough so that THEIR favorite gets in, why should they have any legitimacy at all? And why should they expect anyone serious to pay attention to them?

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Insightful)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195153)

Realistically, Presidential debates would need to be days long, if you allowed all the candidates.

And this is a problem.... why?

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195169)

WOuld you watch a six-day debate? How about a six-hour debate? If you won't watch it, why do you feel others would?

If noone watches it, then you'll find out about it be reading a summary, which will onclude the good sound-bites, and nothing else, and/or will be filtered through the biases of whomever made the summary.

In other words, it would serve no purpose, other than possibly to let us see which candidate could hold his water longest, assuming no bathroom breaks.

Re:And this is an issue because? (3, Insightful)

NateTech (50881) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198460)

Of course I would. It'd be more important to me than watching six days of the Olympics, and people did that.

Even one full good day with normal breaks would be a plus over what we now get.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#10199243)

Actually, I meant six days, twenty-four hours a day. Which would give each of 15 candidates a reasonable amount of time.

Six days of evenings would only amount to an hour per candidate.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195383)

The Democratic primary debates were hopeless. Only five candisates stood any chance of winning the nomination but instead of hearing from them we have to hear from Al Sharpton and co.

If the minor party candidates want to have a debate then let them. I am sure that CSPAN will cover it and anyone who is interested will watch. But just because Ralph Nader wants to talk to us does not mean that people are interested in listening.

There have been serious third party candidates in the debates. The 5% bar is hardly onerous or unreasonable. Anderson and Ross Perot both managed to qualify and were present in the debates.

What is a much bigger issue is who gets to choose the questions. In a true debate the candidates would face off against each other. Instead the US media insists that it get to ask the questions. It would make much more sense to have the candidates question each other.

If left to its own devices the media will only ask Kerry questions about his service in Vietnam and Bush questions about the Texas Air National Guard. The economy, iraq, health care, education, forget those they won't come up.

Re:And this is an issue because? (3, Informative)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195526)

The 5% bar is hardly onerous or unreasonable. Anderson and Ross Perot both managed to qualify and were present in the debates.

It's not 5%, it is 15%! Which would exclude Perot in both 92 and 96, and Anderson. Anderson is on the board of the CDC, FWIW.

It also, if applied at the state level, would have prevented Jesse Ventura from becoming governor, as he would not have been included in the debates (pre-debates he was 10%).

And it also means your tax dollars go to candidates (which IS a 5% barrier) whom you're not allowed to hear in the debates.

What is a much bigger issue is who gets to choose the questions. In a true debate the candidates would face off against each other. Instead the US media insists that it get to ask the questions. It would make much more sense to have the candidates question each other.

There is no "true debate," but that said, direct questioning of candidates to each other is one thing many people want. But the candidates negotiate that away, under the CPD. We would have it if the CPD weren't in control. But direct questioning makes candidates look bad, so the CPD and the candidates don't want it.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196026)

It's not 5%, it is 15%! Which would exclude Perot in both 92 and 96, and Anderson. Anderson is on the board of the CDC, FWIW.

None of the independent parties is even at 5%, and 15% sounds more than reasonable. To win you need 50%. 5% to 50% means increasing your support ten fold.

And it also means your tax dollars go to candidates (which IS a 5% barrier) whom you're not allowed to hear in the debates.

Sure I can hear them if I want, that is what CSPAN is for. Nader gets to rant as much as he likes there. What you are objecting to is that I have the choice to ignore them because they don't get the advantage of a network block out.

Re:And this is an issue because? (3, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196389)

again, you show you have no idea what democracy is about. It's not about what high profile candidate we can elect this year. It's about who would be the best candidate for the job.

Let's point out a few more facts. You don't need 50% to win. You need 50% of the populace who bothers to vote, which is about 40-60% of the populace. So let's be charitable and say you need about 30% to win; IN A TWO PARTY ELECTION.

15% is a very sizable base to start from. Debates can swing entire elections, if they are actually debates, and if they actually have candidates in them.

You seriously need to read this report: http://www.opendebates.org/news/pressreleases/pro- democracy.html

This belief that you only matter if your party can start you off at 30% of polled people or higher is total bullshit man.

Take another look; as the previous poster said, 15% would have eliminated Perot. Perot could have won an election. He was very close to doing so. What more will it take for you to realize that 15% is truly detrimental to democracy?

Take the flip side: what's the worst that would happen if there were more people in the debates? HEY, DEBATES WOULD BE LONGER OR THERE WOULD BE MORE OF THEM, O NOES, I WON'T GET TO WATCH "FRIENDS"!!!!!

Suck it up.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197071)

You need 50% of the populace who bothers to vote

President Clinton won the '92 race with 43% of the votes.

Perot could have won an election. He was very close to doing so.

On what planet? The only thing Perot did was enable President Clinton to win the race with only 43% of the vote.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197393)

He had a lead at one point during one of the races. It looked like he was going to win. I forget exactly what happened... him dropping out the first time, I think... that killed his numbers.

And you missed my qualifier, you need 50% of the people who bother to vote in a two party vote. With perot in there obviously it was more than two parties.

And drop your tired line about Perot costing Bush the election:

"Perot's vote totals in themselves likely did not cause Clinton to win. Even if all of these states had shifted to Bush and none of Bush's victories had been reversed (as seems plausible, in fact, as Bush won by less than 5% only in states that a Republican in a close election could expect to carry, particularly before some of the partisan shifts that took place later in the 1990s - Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia), Clinton still would have won the electoral college vote by 281 to 257. But such a result obviously would have made the race a good deal closer."

from www.fairvote.org/plurality/perot.htm

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198012)

And drop your tired line about Perot costing Bush the election:

That's not what I said. I said what you said: the only contribution Perot made to the election was enabling one candidate (in this case Clinton) to win with a non-majority plurality.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#10199277)

Let's point out a few more facts. You don't need 50% to win. You need 50% of the populace who bothers to vote, which is about 40-60% of the populace. So let's be charitable and say you need about 30% to win; IN A TWO PARTY ELECTION.

15% is a very sizable base to start from.

That 15% isn't 15% of everyone. It's 15% of that likely-voters pool that the polls use. So you're at 15% of 40-60%, and still need, say, an increase from 15% to 35% to have a reasonable chance of winning a three-way race. Not easy to do, when ~90% of the electorate has already decided their votes before the debates.

Note further that a three-way race will go to a third party candidate VERY rarely. Unless that third party candidate has fairly uniform support across the country, even a 35-35-30 split (with the third party getting 35) would most likely result in the election being decided in Congress, since noone would have a MAJORITY (not plurality) of the Electoral College. And how much you willing to bet a 49% Democrat-51% Republican Joint Congress (or swing it the other way, 49R-51D) would vote Nader into the Presidency? Or any other third party?

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Interesting)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196670)

None of the independent parties is even at 5%, and 15% sounds more than reasonable. To win you need 50%. 5% to 50% means increasing your support ten fold.

There's two problems with your argument.

First, Jesse Ventura in Minnesota had only 10% in the polls before the debates. He ended up winning the election. I know a Presidential race is different, but it is not as different as you think, because ...

Second, you do not need 50 percent. You've been misinformed. The last President to get 50% of the so-called popular vote was George H. W. Bush in 1992. You need more than 50% of the electoral college votes to win the election outright, but that's not very interesting either, because that's not a requirement either: if no one gets more than 50% of the electoral college votes, then the House decides the winner from the top three (which is what happened with John Quincy Adams).

Ask yourself: if the top two candidates were all that mattered, why does the Constitution say they choose from the top three? If you're going to argue for a limited number of candidates, it seems the Constitution should guide us, and that the number should therefore be three, not two.

So anyway ... we know that less than 15% is sufficient to get into the 30% range, that it's possible to get a bump like that. And, we know that the 30% range is enough to become President. So what was your point again? :-)

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

WhiteBandit (185659) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196956)

Second, you do not need 50 percent. You've been misinformed. The last President to get 50% of the so-called popular vote was George H. W. Bush in 1992. You need more than 50% of the electoral college votes to win the election outright, but that's not very interesting either, because that's not a requirement either: if no one gets more than 50% of the electoral college votes, then the House decides the winner from the top three (which is what happened with John Quincy Adams).

You mean 1988 [wikipedia.org] . ;)

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198244)

Oops, yeah, I did.

Questions. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195768)

We need multiple sources of questions:

#1. A popular vote (/. style).

#2. The media's picks.

#3. The candidate's picks. This way they can focus on their strengths or pick at their opponents weaknesses.

I'd even break #1 down by region ("Detroit wants to know ....").

Any other sources of questions?

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Interesting)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196351)

You're an idiot, you have the percentages wrong, but the problem is not that the "US media" insists on being able to ask the questions. They are NOT the ones asking the questions. What we have RIGHT NOW is what you are saying we *should* have: the candidates are working back room deals before the debates to decide what will be talked about.

The LAST thing you want is the candidates able to completely dictate the information given to the american public. You WANT the candidates to be asked questions they don't want to answer!! don't you!?!?!?

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196942)

You're an idiot,

You sound like a Republican.

you have the percentages wrong

Who cares if the figure is 5% or 15%? We both know that Nader is not going to get 5%. Its like arguing whether the atlantic is 500 miles or 3500 miles across, you still ain't going to swim across it.

The LAST thing you want is the candidates able to completely dictate the information given to the american public. You WANT the candidates to be asked questions they don't want to answer!!

It works well enough in court rooms, have each side ask the questions that the other one does not want to hear.

Of course Dufus is too cowardly to even do a Town Hall style of debate unless it is in front of one of his audiences who have taken a personal loyalty oath so I don't think that he would want to take questions from Kerry.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197365)

this is what you are not getting. Neither candidate, indeed neither PARTY wants to risk getting burned in the debate. So they just decide on what's safe and rely on their own campaign strategies to pull through.

This is what has been going on for more than a decade now. The debates are a joke. Viewpoints and issues that the parties have not decided to hype are simply not addressed. This is not a good thing, end of story.

whether they include other parties or not, the moderators need to be able to play hardball, and at the very least they need to be able to ask follow up questions, and candidates need more than 90 seconds to answer some questions.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Informative)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197486)

If the minor party candidates want to have a debate then let them. I am sure that CSPAN will cover it and anyone who is interested will watch. But just because Ralph Nader wants to talk to us does not mean that people are interested in listening

Nader is debating Badnarik. All others are invited. C-SPAN won't be covering it.

There have been serious third party candidates in the debates. The 5% bar is hardly onerous or unreasonable. Anderson and Ross Perot both managed to qualify and were present in the debates.

The bar is actually 15% which is higher than the 10% required to get on a state's ballot. There wasn't a bar until the League of Women Voters got royally ticked at the CPD and quit hosting their own debates.

When Perot ran in 1992 his May polls showed him beating both Clinton and Bush. Then he dropped out of the race and Clinton's points rose 14 percent while Bush's rose only 3. When Perot re-entered the race he only got 10% on the polls. The Bush supporters saw that Perot's followers had all migrated over to Clinton so they were happy to have him back in the race. The *only* (fact) reason Perot was in the debates at all was because the Republican party needed someone to take votes away from Clinton. He was only allowed to debate on the first of the three debates though. In 1996 Gore didn't have a strong enough position to warrant pulling another Perot so Perot wasn't allowed.

What is a much bigger issue is who gets to choose the questions. In a true debate the candidates would face off against each other. Instead the US media insists that it get to ask the questions. It would make much more sense to have the candidates question each other.

The U.S. media doesn't have any say in the questions. The questions are chosen by a panel of Republican and Democratic party members and are pre-released to the candidates so they can have time to formulate their answers. The U.S. media might be the reason there actually isn't any debating though; debating takes more time than simply issuing statements so it's hard to judge time slots. Also, those audience questions were submitted for approval beforehand, given to the candidates beforehand, and are read from a card live.

--Matthew

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196991)

Because at least one of the candidates has a full-time job [whitehouse.gov] .

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198014)

Now that he's spent so much of the past 3.75 years on vacation, he's got a lot of cramming left for his last few months. He might have to drop one of the debates just to make time for the few thousand pardons he owes his Saudi boss.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Insightful)

NateTech (50881) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198490)

That he's not doing.

His RNC speech was full of "If you elect me I will do... blah." Count them. There's a lot of them.

Of course, none of his followers (yes, followers... not leaders) are asking why with the chance of a lifetime (a Republican House and Senate) he hasn't told the Party folks to get off their asses and draft some legislation he'll happily sign.

Nope, he doesn't really want to cut taxes, simplify tax law, or any of the other multitude of things prefaced with those words during his speech... OR THEY'D ALREADY BE DONE!

He's either lying or completely ineffective as a leader. Even with the War to run, the Republicans could have proposed massive sweeping changes to Tax law, since that's one of the promises. They haven't.

Of course the real reason it's not getting done is because he isn't in Washington enough to actually work with legislators. Go figure.

Re:And this is an issue because? (3, Insightful)

VultureMN (116540) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195215)

Unfortunately, every debate I've watched (since I hit voting age in 1990) has been nothing -but- attempts at setting up sound-bites. When's the last time any candidate actually tried to show some meat instead of dodging questions? And, hell, the average American voter doesn't seem interested in any answer more than 15 seconds long. Hooray for anti-intellectualism; if it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker, people aren't interested.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195719)

I couldnt tell the difference between Kerry and Bush, both wanted to Invade IRAQ, both believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, both want to reform tax, as how to reform, no plan.

Details, sheesh, the DNC and RNC where just "Bash " tv specials. The RNC was a little worse, but speakers should at least humor us and talk about policies.

Debates, whats to debate? If its religous, Republicans will dance around the issue. If it's taxs, Democrats will dance around the issue.

Everytime I listen to these jokers, I shake my head in shame that thats the best we could do for candidates.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

captnitro (160231) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196463)

I couldnt tell the difference between Kerry and Bush, both wanted to Invade IRAQ, both believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, both want to reform tax

There's a slight, but important flaw you're making here that needs to be pointed out: it's more complex than you're letting on.

Do you think that when somebody casually says something to the press about condoms in the schools or rescheduling marijuana, the President fires them because he cares about it that much and because the penalties for slipping up in the White House are that grave? Absolutely not.

The reason he does it is because it will consume everything the Office is trying to do. It's politics. When you have an opposition party, their job is pretty much to make sure you make those kinds of mistakes or fall on the wrong side of public opinion as much as possible. E.g., the former surgeon general says something about masturbation and suddenly, hearings are scheduled for next Monday, and that's the clip they show in your slam ad. This is the world of professional politics, and what you're hearing is filtered through press secretaries and releases and communications directors and media consultants to keep that from happening.

So when you think of invading IRAQ (which by the way is not an acronym :) think of the fact that it's not as simple as just "he wanted to invade IRAQ". Yes, we're trading lives here, but standing without the Republicans, or in this case, all of Congress in an overwhelmingly lopsided vote, cripples your ability to do anything else. Vote against Iraq, bring gay marriage to the table, bring slavery reps to the table: you will not pass go, not get $200, you will lose the next election to a Republican who's not "soft on terrorism". Soundbite, concession, and suddenly your ability to do just a lot of good in trade for a little you disagree with is replaced by a guy who does 100% of what you disagree with.

And isn't that how it's supposed to work? Our representatives aren't supposed to vote for whatever the hell they choose because "they got gumption", they vote for what will win them elections and keeping people happy, which is our way of them keeping them or firing them.

Frankly, I'm sure many Democratic congressmen would be more than happy to promote gay marriage. But if you have even 51% of a constituency that doesn't want it, you may be going home in two Novembers. Right now, the last thing the Democratic party needs is to put something down as an issue that more than 3/4 of Americans disagree with. Say you're the same as the other guy, and you can focus on other things. The issue will come up in its time, but politics is like a dinosaur: hit it on the head and wait a few years for the tail to move.

They say that politics is the "slow boring of hard boards", and I'm inclined to let it be. We need sweeping changes, yes, we need health care, we need school construction, jobs, etc., but the country runs on compromise much of the time, and if it didn't, 150 million Americans are pissed instead of just grumbling. Everybody gets a little, everybody gives a little, and everyone gets their 15 minutes. Politics is its own check and balance, it insures my President doesn't up and decide to nuke all of Europe one day and burn the constitution in a makeshift Cuban. Though I'm sure right now, that analogy is bad.

I agree that I'm tired of voting for the lesser of who cares, men without conviction who think being President is a good gig. The solution isn't outlawing politics, though, the solution is convincing Good Men to Do Something.

Over the past few days since PoliSlashdot went up, there have been so many discussions of the process it's amazing, and actually very inspiring. But the one thing the Slashdot crowd has yet to discover, in its entire knowledge of every article of the constitution, is that sometimes in a democracy, other people win. "This is the world of professional politics, not adolescent tantrums."

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197063)

both wanted to Invade IRAQ

It's not an acronym. It's just Iraq. But aside from that, you're mistaken. Senator Kerry did not want to invade Iraq. Well, no, that's not really true. First he did, when it was time to vote on the authorization. Then he didn't when it was time to vote on the funding. Then he did when he started running for president in 2003. Then he didn't when Howard Dean came along and started sucking away all the radical anti-war voters. Then he did when he realized that radical anti-war voters didn't add up to 50% of the electorate.

This week he says he didn't. So yeah, you're mistaken.

both want to reform tax

Um. No. Sen. Kerry is opposed to tax reform. He wants to raise taxes. Maybe that's where you got mixed up.

But the thing is, you left out important stuff. President Bush wants to give parents school tuition vouchers. Sen. Kerry doesn't. President Bush wants to make the tax cuts permanent; Sen. Kerry wants to roll them back. Sen. Kerry wants to keep Social Security as it is; President Bush wants to introduce privatization initiatives. Sen. Kerry wants to make health insurance a federal entitlement; President Bush wants to cut health care and health insurance costs instead.

There are important differences. These are just a few. Read the platforms.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197220)

But aside from that, you're mistaken. Senator Kerry did not want to invade Iraq. Well, no, that's not really true. First he did, when it was time to vote on the authorization. Then he didn't when it was time to vote on the funding. Then he did when he started running for president in 2003. Then he didn't when Howard Dean came along and started sucking away all the radical anti-war voters. Then he did when he realized that radical anti-war voters didn't add up to 50% of the electorate.

Long clip, but I seem to recall that Kerry changed his mind when the riders for the funding, each time he was for, but the riders for fat pork projects made him vote no.

As for the anti-war voters, thats a pure judgement call there...

Also, I noticed you only talk against Kerry, and not one comment about Bush, if you cant see both sides mistakes you are a party follower. Thats a bad thing, following blindly.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197772)

but the riders for fat pork projects made him vote no.

Well, first, no, that's not the case. This wasn't an omnibus bill. It was a specific appropriation.

And second, so what? I really don't care what rider you want to attach, I'm not going to vote against a bill that buys tank fuel and ammunition for boys in a war zone.

Also, I noticed you only talk against Kerry, and not one comment about Bush

Read again, putz.

Re:And this is an issue because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10198116)

Read again, putz.

Ahh, first to call someone a name, must be a Republican.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198154)

Also, I noticed you only talk Kerry, and not one comment about Bush

Read again, putz.

Wow, resort to name calling, Not sure what pissed in your wheaties, but you really need to get off the republican hate wagon and check out the facts that are not spoon fed to you.

He voted yes for war, and voted no for the pork projects. Rather good tactic, attaching riders on bills so they dont get votes, or you know has to pass, so shit riders get passed. But then, if you vote against it your a flip-flopper. Typical bullshit spin.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

gaijin99 (143693) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197314)

Um. No. Sen. Kerry is opposed to tax reform. He wants to raise taxes. Maybe that's where you got mixed up.
So do you, personally, make more than $100,000/year? Because if you don't (and I damn sure don't), than saying "Kerry is going to raise taxes!!" is pretty stupid. Yes, John Kerry that horrible, evil, man wants to roll back the Bush government's huge giveaway to the elite. Cry me a river. I think Mike Dell and Mike Eisnier can afford to pay a bit more.

In case you didn't notice the USA now has the single biggest deficit it has ever had in its entire history. *Someone* has to pay for that, or do you think (as Bush seems to) that the magic money fairy is going to just make the debt vanish? Deficit spending is like using a credit card, you get instant gratification, then pay through the nose later on. Someone's got to pay, and the elite have more money than I do, so let them pay for Bush's war.

Sen. Kerry wants to keep Social Security as it is; President Bush wants to introduce privatization initiatives.
I think a more accurate term is "corporatization". Considering the fantastic record the stock market has given lately (Worldcom, Enron, Haliburton, Disney, etc) I'd rather that my social security money stayed *far* away from it. Additionally, due to the various brokerage fees any corporatization of social security amounts to nothing more or less than a huge giveaway to the brokers. No wonder they all surport corporatizing social security...
Sen. Kerry wants to make health insurance a federal entitlement; President Bush wants to cut health care and health insurance costs instead.
Yup, what a horrible idea, how *dare* Mr. Kerry suggest that the working poor should get health care. I mean, if there were socialized medicine that means we couldn't choose our doctors, completely unlike the situation today where our HMO's tell us what doctors we can see. Besides, if the HMO's went out of business the doctors would have to decide for themselves what treatment to give a patient, and we all know that greedy insurance companies are much better judges of health treatments than doctors are.

Less sarcastically, are you aware of the fact that here in the US we spend around $4,500 per capita on health care. In Canada they spend around $2,500 per capita. In Japan (where they also have socialized medicine) its only around $2,000 per capita. The USA has the absolute highest per capita health care expenditures on the planet, and yet has the third lowest average life expectancy of any first world nation (only Ireland and Portugal rank lower). My point here is that the fabeled "efficiency" of corporatized medicine doesn't seem to be apparent in the real world. We spend more money, and have shorter lives, and you want me to think that that's a good thing?

There are important differences. These are just a few. Read the platforms.
Yup. There are, and I prefer Kerry. He's far from my first choice, and I see him as being only marginally better than Bush, but I do see him as being the better choice. As far as platforms go, I think that you'd rather that people *didn't* read the Republican platform, that thing's scary. They carefully showed their moderates at the convention, but the fanatics wrote the platform, and it shows. I notice that you don't really seem to want people to read it (since you didn't supply a linke) so I thought I'd like to the Republican platform [gop.com] . For your viewing pleasure, here's the Democratic party platform [democrats.org] so people can compare and contrast. I couldn't find an HTML copy of the Republican platform, so I had to link to that PDF.

You'll notice, as you read the Democratic platform that eating Christian babies, raising taxes on everyone, forcing streights to become gay, and surrendering to Osama are not actually part of the Democratic platform. Funny how reality doesn't really match what Rush says, isn't it?

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197888)

So do you, personally, make more than $100,000/year?

Not the issue. The issue is that sole proprietorships and S-corps are also taxes using the individual filling schedule. Most small businesses bring in considerably more than $100,000 a year in gross revenues. Small businesses are the engine that drive the economy: they generate most of the cash flow and they hire most of the employees. Put the clamps on small business and you're putting the clamps on the entire economy.

In case you didn't notice the USA now has the single biggest deficit it has ever had in its entire history.

That's wrong two ways. First, it's wrong in terms of raw adjusted dollars. Our deficit is projected to be $383.7 billion. That's only the fourth-highest since 1940. The 1943 deficit was $486.2 billion, for example. Highest in history.

Second, if you figure the deficit as a percentage of GDP, which is the way the CBO does it, the 2004 deficit is projected to be only the 17th largest in history.

Thou Shalt Not Get They News By Reading Headlines Alone. Okay?

Deficit spending is like using a credit card

No. Credit cards are based on compounding interest over time. The national debt is nothing at all like that. About half of the national debt is what they call intragovernmental debt, which is not interest-bearing at all. The rest is in the form of Treasury bonds which do not compound; they're based on simple interest.

Deficit spending is like taking out a bond, or selling stock in your company. Or, if you prefer, like taking out a mortgage or other bank loan.

I think a more accurate term is "corporatization".

Huh? I don't even know what that means. It's not in my dictionary.

Considering the fantastic record the stock market has given lately (Worldcom, Enron, Haliburton, Disney, etc) I'd rather that my social security money stayed *far* away from it.

The stock market posts an average annual rate of return of 10%. That's very good.

Additionally, due to the various brokerage fees any corporatization of social security amounts to nothing more or less than a huge giveaway to the brokers.

Um. There are no brokerage fees associated with index funds or market accounts. You're kinda just talking out of your ass here, right?

how *dare* Mr. Kerry suggest that the working poor should get health care.

Okay, that's you. Here's another quote.

Deficit spending is like using a credit card, you get instant gratification, then pay through the nose later on.

That's you too. Think on these two things.

Kerry's health-care plan will, if passed, cost the government $900 billion over 10 years. Kerry's tax increases, on the other hand, will raise only $860 billion over ten years. Which means that we can't come anywhere close to affording Kerry's plan, even if we slam the brakes on the recovering economy to finance it. And by the way, that's just his health-care plan. That's not figuring in any of the rest of his legislative agenda, which adds up to an additional $800 billion over 10 years.

That's not the kind of deficit spending you can grow your way out of. That's completely off-the-charts crazy.

You want poor people to have taxpayer-funded health insurance? You figure out how to pay for it.

completely unlike the situation today where our HMO's tell us what doctors we can see

You have a lousy health-care plan. Call your insurance agent. Get a better one.

Less sarcastically, are you aware of the fact that here in the US we spend around $4,500 per capita on health care. In Canada they spend around $2,500 per capita.

You didn't see the big "the sky is falling" article in the Post over the weekend about the Canadian health-care crisis? They're shutting down entire hospitals, for chrissakes. Don't use Canada as a counter-example.

The USA has the absolute highest per capita health care expenditures on the planet

Ever wonder why? I'll tell you why. The largest single cost-factor in health care in this country is medical liability insurance. Liability insurance premiums are going up by 40% per year on average, and the insurance companies are still paying out $1.07 in settlements for every $1.00 collected in premiums. How do we fix that? By instituting tort reform, which Sen. Kerry explicitly rejects in his platform. Instead, he wants to pass down unfunded mandates to the states that require them to provide taxpayer-funded out-of-court arbitration and mandatory second-opinion consultations, plus further regulating the insurance industry which is already buckling.

You can't just wave the legislative wand and make health care cost less, you know. You have to reduce the costs of providing health care, something which Sen. Kerry rejects out of hand.

You'll notice, as you read the Democratic platform that eating Christian babies, raising taxes on everyone, forcing streights to become gay, and surrendering to Osama are not actually part of the Democratic platform. Funny how reality doesn't really match what Rush says, isn't it?

What the flying fuck are you talking about? Do you want to discuss issues, or do you want to make unfunny attempts at jokes?

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197363)

Hiya Twirlip! Sorry to hear the stress has gotten to you, too.

But aside from that, you're mistaken. Senator Kerry did not want to invade Iraq. Well, no, that's not really true. First he did, when it was time to vote on the authorization. Then he didn't when it was time to vote on the funding. Then he did when he started running for president in 2003. Then he didn't when Howard Dean came along and started sucking away all the radical anti-war voters. Then he did when he realized that radical anti-war voters didn't add up to 50% of the electorate.

Can you point me to some speech transcripts, or explanatory memorandums he drafted, or anything concrete that backs up Kerry's flip-flopping?

Yes, I'm currently biased towards the spooky old man. And, yes, I believe that someone having positions and principles is not contrary to compromising and allowing half-measures, especially in a democracy.

But there are parts that Bush & co have said that I do find appealing. I like paying less taxes, so I have money to spend my way. I would like to own my first home in the next four years. I think I would support a constitutional amendment solidifying the current definition of "marriage", so long as it let "marriage equivalents" like those in NJ and VT stand.

So, please, counteract what some virulet character bashing has done and give me a fair chance at voting Republican. I'm an intelligent person who can read legalese and policy-talk. Back up the President's words, convince me, and I'll throw a good half-dozen voters into the red--maybe more.

As for the platforms:

Um. No. Sen. Kerry is opposed to tax reform. He wants to raise taxes. Maybe that's where you got mixed up.

Kerry's stumped on several occasions about closing tax loopholes. So, he's for "reform", but it's for the same broad idea of "reform" that every politician has been for since George Washington.

President Bush wants to give parents school tuition vouchers. Sen. Kerry doesn't.

Excellent clarity of issues.

President Bush wants to make the tax cuts permanent; Sen. Kerry wants to roll them back.

Minor correction (for the A/Cs who we don't want to be misinformed!). Kerry wants to roll tax cuts back for the "rich" - those over $200,000. This may very well slowdown the economy and cost some of those sub-$200k folk their jobs, and raising taxes a little could start a snowball effect where the policial damage is done and the gov't raises taxes a litte more, then a little more... and so on.

I'm all for spin, but omission isn't necessary on a geek site. ;)

Sen. Kerry wants to keep Social Security as it is; President Bush wants to introduce privatization initiatives.

Some counterspin here: Kerry wants to try and make the Social Security system work largely as-is, through small measure reform. Bush wants to introduce major reform.

Sen. Kerry wants to make health insurance a federal entitlement; President Bush wants to cut health care and health insurance costs instead.

This issue is, for me, actually a draw. The best health care* I ever had was as a federal entitlement--as a USAF dependent.

Now that i have to manage on my own, either option--either insurance that takes less a bite of my paycheck or minimum coverage provided by my taxes--sounds good enough for me. Then again, I don't get sick or go to the doctor that often.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197996)

Can you point me to some speech transcripts, or explanatory memorandums he drafted, or anything concrete that backs up Kerry's flip-flopping?

Google it. You can't swing a dead cat in there without hitting a transcript of a Kerry speech. Pick any two in which he talks about Iraq. Odds are fair that his positions are not reconcilable.

Authorization for war: Kerry votes yea. Appropriation for war: Kerry votes nay. (Congressional Record) Last December: Iraq was the right thing to do. (AP, I think it was) Last February: Iraq was a mistake. (AP) Last June: I'd vote for it again. (Boston Globe) Last July: I voted for it before I voted against it. (Kerry's acceptance speech) Last week: Iraq was wrong. (Kerry's new-n-improved stump speech) Last winter: Iraq was a distraction from the war on terror. Yesterday: 1,000 American soldiers died fighting the war on terror.

And, yes, I believe that someone having positions and principles is not contrary to compromising and allowing half-measures, especially in a democracy.

It's one thing to have principles and then reach a compromise. It's another thing not to have any principles to start with and to flap in the breeze.

Kerry's stumped on several occasions about closing tax loopholes.

That's not what the phrase "tax reform" means. Tax reform means rewriting thousands of pages of the tax code with the goal of reducing compliance costs. (Compliance costs, incidentally, add 20 cents to every dollar of taxes paid, on average. If you don't incur any measurable compliance costs--you use the 1040EZ form, take the standard deduction, 10 minutes in and out--then somebody else is spending 40 cents on the dollar. It's an average, and it hits small business the hardest.)

Kerry wants to roll tax cuts back for the "rich" - those over $200,000.

It's not $200,000; it's $100,000. And this is the really critically important part: it's not the rich. It's got little to do with individuals at all. Individuals making more than $100,000 a year don't pay a very large fraction of the country's income tax revenue. Businesses do. And small businesses--S-corporations and sole proprietorships--are taxed using the same schedule that individuals use. So when you raise taxes on individuals making more than $100,000 a year, you're also raising money on sole proprietorships and S-corps.

Do I have to tell you that sole proprietorships and S-corps generate most of the revenues and employ most of the people in this country? Not a group you want to raise taxes on in a recovering economy.

Kerry wants to try and make the Social Security system work largely as-is

Not possible. The CBO says that by 2018, the Social Security system will be running a deficit. We won't be bringing in enough revenue in Social Security taxes to cover the benefits that we'll be paying out.

Without changing the rules, there are only three choices: raise the retirement age (Kerry says no, absolutely not), cut benefits (Kerry says no, absolutely not), or raise Social Security taxes. On that last one, Kerry remains strangely mute.

This issue is, for me, actually a draw.

Then you must not know about health savings accounts. They're new; they just started this year. We won't know exactly how they're doing until we get the 2004 tax returns in, but indications are that they're selling like hotcakes.

HSA's in a nutshell: right now you pay a monthly premium for a low-deductible health-insurance plan. Let's say that your deductible is $500 and your monthly premium is $1,000. (Some of that cost may be covered by your employer and therefore invisible to you. But that's about the right amount, more or less. Also it's a round number, which is good for an example.)

Your monthly check for $1,000 goes to the insurance company. That money is gone, spent, kaput. You'll never see it again. If you're lucky and you live out the year in perfect health, you'll have spent $12,000 and received nothing at all in return.

"Fuck this," you say. You call your insurance agent and buy an HSA plan instead. An HSA plan consists of two parts: a high-deductible, low-premium insurance plan and an interest-bearing bank account. Under the plan, your new deductible is a whopping $2,500, five times higher than under your old plan. But the price is lower: your premium is only $400 a month.

You're allowed to deposit any amount into your HSA up to the value of your insurance deductible in a given year. Which means you can put $2,500 into it that first year. All deposits into your HSA are tax exempt; if your employer deducts, he deducts from your pre-tax income. If you make your own deposits, you can claim the deposits on your tax return at the end of the year to get a credit.

You use your HSA to pay for all health services up to the value of your deductible. If you go to the doctor, you pay for the office visit out of your HSA. If you buy eyeglasses, you pay for the exam and the glasses out of your HSA, usually with a debit card. The receptionist chick swipes your card, the money comes out of your HSA, and off you go.

If you happen to spend more than $2,500 during the year--if you have appendicitis, say--then your insurance kicks in. Once you've met your deductible, you don't pay for anything else for the rest of the year.

Now note that none of this is coming out of your pocket. It's coming out of your HSA, which is a part of your health-care plan. Your HSA deposits (which add up to $2,500) plus your monthly premiums ($400) add up to an annual total of $7,300, just over half of what you were paying under the old plan.

And that's the first year. The second year is much better. If you're young and healthy, you probably won't spend $2,500 on health care during the year. You'll probably have some left over in your HSA at the end of the year. This is, essentially, your unmet deductible. And guess what? It rolls over. Come January 1, you have $2,000 (let's say) in your HSA, in addition to the $2,500 you'll be putting in there over the course of Year 2.

In other words, the less you have to spend on health care in Year X, the more you'll have saved in Year X+1.

You can either keep pumping money into your HSA to the tune of $2,500 a year or, if you prefer, you can stop putting any money into it at all. If you build up your HSA to a nice nest-egg and then stop feeding it, you'll spend only $4,800 on health insurance per year, considerably less than half of what you were paying before you switch plans.

On the other hand, you can choose to keep dumping money into your HSA. Before you turn 65, you're only allowed to use the money for health care, otherwise you have to pay taxes and penalties on it. But after you turn 65, that money is yours to do with as you see fit, no taxes, no penalties. So an HSA is also a low-interest-bearing retirement savings account.

Tell me again that the Bush plan and the Kerry plan are a draw. I mean, you do know that the Kerry plan can't even be funded without a massive tax hike, right? Not even on paper. Kerry's plan will cost $900 billion over 10 years, while his tax increases will only bring in $860 billion. Even on paper, even during the campaign, he's in the red. Most Democrats at least wait until they're in office to propose unfundable legislation.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

VultureMN (116540) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198062)

Why is it that some people think taxes at Clinton-era levels will clobber the economy, when they obviously didn't at the time?

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198186)

Um. They did at the time. Between 1993 and 1999, real GDP growth dropped from 3.4% per year to 2.3% per year, causing tax revenues (among other things) to fall significantly short of CBO projections.

What do you think happened to that multitrillion-dollar surplus that was projected way back when? You don't seriously think that Bush pissed it away in his first two weeks in office, do you?

There's a 3-4 year lag between changes in tax policy and large-scale economic effects. We're just now starting to see the effects of the Bush cuts. If Kerry were inaugurated in January and passed his tax hikes a month later, we'd probably see very little effect in the 2005 GDP figures, but a significant effect in the 2007 GDP figures.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198007)

Read the platforms.

Never mind the platforms. Vote on past performance. By any measure, Bush is incompetent. He is just not good enough to be President. He put the U.S. in debt, wasted our political capital, failed in Afghanistan, cut science, pushed his own religious agenda, and simply doesn't have the long-term thinking that the Chief of State of the United States of America should exhibit.

But the Republicans are putting him up for the position again. They should have cut their losses and nominated someone else for the Presidency. Bush isn't going to do better in his second term than he did in his first--one of his problems is that he can't admit mistakes.

So vote for someone else.

casualties of war (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198100)

Kerry backed a resolution authorizing force "necessary to defend the US" as it developed in the Senate. When it had $15B in unaccountable reconstruction money attached, he tried to cut that out by threatening to vote against it in that form. When that failed, he voted for the flawed bill, which has lately demonstrated the serious defect in that exact reconstruction item. Then Bush used the resolution to invade Iraq, which wasn't necessary to defend the US. So Kerry has truthfully said that he supported the option of force for the president, but would have done everything differently. That's completely consistent, and sound policy - especially the part about Iraq not threatening the US. The only way to make it sound bad is by oversimplifying a giant war against a complex country full of the most prized spoils of war, and the most unstably conflicted population outside of Israel. Congratulations, you've managed to buy, and resell on Slashdot, the propaganda that's perpetuating an unnecessary war that's killing thousands, while threatening billions in its wider consequences.

Next on the agenda is repeating lies about Bush's savings on healthcare. That combines capping liability for malpractice at an arbitrarily small amount with continuing the pharmaceutical corporation entitlements passed last year by fraud. Have you already repressed memories of its $500B price tag, slid through Congress by lying it down to $395B, just below even the Republican "$400B" veto threshold? You remember, the lies enforced by threatening the auditor with firing (and worse) if he divulged the true projections? If you want to say that Bush would cut healthcare, while keeping the insurance and drug corporation entitlements as part of his "supply side" scam (discredited under that name since early Reagan), go ahead.

While you're reading the Republican platform, consider such statements as "nations that train, harbor, or finance terrorists are just as guilty as the terrorists themselves" in the context of Saudi government sponsorship of at least two of the terrorists who planebombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September, 2001. Ask yourself whether your vice president should be making deals with the Saudis to lower gas prices just before the 2004 election, in exchange for the US invading Hussein's Iraq on the Saudi's northern border. Ask yourself which candidate backs Supreme Justices who invoke "original intent" of the "framers" of the Constitution whenever it suits them, but would amend the Constitution to reduce some citizens' rights for the first time, in exchange for some homophobes' votes. Try to keep some of the overwhelming reality of the Bush nightmare in mind as his expert propaganda swirls around you. Try to remember that there's still hope for the truth, once the Republican war on it gets set back at the polls this November.

Re:casualties of war (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198208)

Blah blah blah. See why we don't elect legislators to the executive branch?

That combines capping liability for malpractice at an arbitrarily small amount

The amount proposed is $250,000 for non-economic damages (pain and suffering, etc.) and no limit for economic damages (recovering lost wages including future lost wages due to permanent disability and so on). But it's just a suggestion from the Bush administration. What would you prefer the limit to be?

If you say "no limit," you lose.

with continuing the pharmaceutical corporation entitlements passed last year by fraud.

Please stop lifting your talking points from the Democratic Underground.

You remember, the lies enforced by threatening the auditor with firing (and worse) if he divulged the true projections?

Yes, yes, and Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster. Any more wild-eyed conspiracy theories completely unrelated to the facts you wanna throw out there?

Saudi government sponsorship of at least two of the terrorists who planebombed the World Trade Center

Bzzt. There was no Saudi government sponsorship. You're spinning off into Michael Moore territory now.

Ask yourself whether your vice president should be making deals with the Saudis to lower gas prices

A false rumor.

but would amend the Constitution to reduce some citizens' rights for the first time

Confused again. You seem to think that (1) the proposed amendment would prevent gay people from marrying or that (2) same-sex marriage is a thing. Gay people can marry just like anybody else can: boy-girl, boy-girl. And same-sex marriage is a myth. It's never been an institution recognized by law. So no, the proposed amendment would not, if passed, "reduce some citizens' rights."

And even if it did ..."for the first time?" Just what the fuck do you think laws are? They're abridgments of our rights! You make it sound like the whole notion is entirely new to you.

Try to remember that there's still hope for the truth

I try, but when you spread memes made up out of whole cloth by people who have a very loose relationship with the truth, it's hard.

Re:casualties of war (1)

doodlelogic (773522) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198853)

same-sex marriage is a myth. It's never been an institution recognized by law

Just because something hasn't been recognised by law in the past, doesn't mean it shouldn't be in the future, in most states homosexual acts themselves were illegal in the first half of the last century, and inter-racial marriage was effectively banned in some.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Funny)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197026)

When's the last time any candidate actually tried to show some meat instead of dodging questions?

Last time around [debates.org] .

Just allow the viable candidates (3, Insightful)

ElForesto (763160) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195315)

I think that the basis of a presidential debate should be viability. If a candidate will be on the ballot in enough states for it to be possible of a victory in the electoral college, then they should be let in. Right now, that includes Bush, Kerry, Badnarik, Cobb and Peroutka. Nader, though well-known, doesn't have a chance at an electoral victory due to ballot access issues.

If a debate stays focused on a few key issues and enforces strict time limits, they should be able to whip through 5-6 big issues in a 2-hour debate.

Re:Just allow the viable candidates (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196326)

and what's with this two hour limit?

isn't the future of our country worth more time to educate the people?

How about a debate week, two hours a night?

Re:Just allow the viable candidates (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#10199373)

If a debate stays focused on a few key issues and enforces strict time limits, they should be able to whip through 5-6 big issues in a 2-hour debate.

Let's see, you mentioned five candidates eligible. 120 minutes divided five ways is 24 minutes. Five issues cuts it to ~5 minutes per candidate per issue. Not counting time for the questions to be asked. Call it four minutes per candidate per issue, if you allow no time for follow-up questions.

Why bother? It's not enough time for the debate to be worthwhile, in that scenario.

Re:And this is an issue because? (3, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195323)

first off, the bipartisan (not non partisan) commission has set 15% as the bar for entry to the debates. This is staggeringly beyond any kind of ballot access or entrance requirements in any state. It's also blindingly high for any non major party candidate.

As Jesse Ventura shows, however, if allowed to debate, one can go from below that 15% marker to win an election.

There is no reason why there cannot be multiple debates. There is no reason why any debate should suffer the agreements and back door dealings of the two major players as to format, content, LACK OF FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS, and innumerable other deals made by the D and R coalition here, designed to reduce the debate into a two hour recital of practiced sound bites as it currently is, because the major parties want it that way.

Remember Perot? 3 person or larger debates are doable. Even if we still only had two candidates in the debates, at the very least we could pretend it was a format for real question, answer, you know, DEBATE, instead of a recital on prearranged talking points.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Informative)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195433)

There are so many problems they are difficult to enumerate. You got some of the big ones.

There's also the fact that because the CPD is bipartisan, it is violating federal law, because contributions are campaign donations.

And the fact that Clinton used his power over Dole in 1996 (dangling the carrot named "no Perot") to actually intentionally hold a debate on the same night as a baseball playoff game, to reduce viewership. Stephanopolous even admitted this was the case later on. [fair.org]

The two candidates actively attempt to swindle you. Call them. Tell them you don't want what they're selling. Tell them you want the CDC to take control this year. It's not too late. The only reason they don't change is because we don't ask them to. If you don't call them, they will -- apparently, rightly -- assume that you don't mind that they are staging the entire affair. The affair should be out of their hands.

Re:And this is an issue because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10195633)

In the Canadian election, we had all Four major leaders debate - in both English and French.

Of course it's doable.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197092)

And look what you got stuck with. Sheesh.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Insightful)

PoisonousPhat (673225) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197232)

There is no reason why there cannot be multiple debates. There is no reason why any debate should suffer the agreements and back door dealings of the two major players as to format, content, LACK OF FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS, and innumerable other deals made by the D and R coalition here, designed to reduce the debate into a two hour recital of practiced sound bites as it currently is, because the major parties want it that way.

Oh my, did someone else just say that? These are my sentiments exactly. I recall seeing Mario Cuomo on CSPAN making the case for multiple debates. I thought it would be a marvelous idea: have the candidates spend some of that TV money and "stump speech" time to instead debate 5-10 times. Each debate could have a different set topic, such as "The Economy", "Healthcare" or "Iraq and the Middle East", along with different multiple moderators each time, some of whom would be experts in the field of discussion. Try as they might, I doubt that either (or any, if we have more than two) candidate could "sound bite" his way though two hours of a single topic. Then again, these guys are masterful spin doctors.

Re:And this is an issue because? (2, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197421)

No, they aren't. They are masterful spin doctors when they have a captive spoonfed moderator who will not challenge them when they REFUSE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS over and over and over again, spitting out tired, irrelevant rhetoric instead and never getting called on it.

Having a moderator with the balls to call a spade a spade would make a huge difference especially, as you've mentioned, if they are educated in the field being questioned on. I really, really like that idea of set theme debates or a couple of set themes per debate with an open Q and A or "miscellaneous" debate.

Re:And this is an issue because? (1)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197536)

The debates are controlled by both the Republicans and Democrats.
The bar is 15%.
The debates already run three days.
The bar has been raised over the last 20 years *specifically* to keep THEIR favorite out.

The debates used to be very long. Candidates would get exhausted during them and start to speak bluntly (honestly, if you will). The questions used to be hard-balled to keep the debaters on their toes. The debaters used to be allowed to debate each other. We used to know exactly what the candidates believed by watching the debates.

This is much needed! (2, Insightful)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195077)

A sentiment which seems to be quite prevalent in this election is that, while people are not enthused about John Kerry, they are voting for him because they don't want to vote for Bush. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when you can't cast a reasonable vote for the candidate who represents your issues, and have to resort to voting against the candidate who doesn't.

Things may start to change if the third-party candidates and independants were given enough media coverage to actually present their views to the public. This simply doesn't happen, but allowing them to take part in nationally televised debates would be a step in the right direction.

Re:This is much needed! (4, Insightful)

captnitro (160231) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195217)

while people are not enthused about John Kerry, they are voting for him because they don't want to vote for Bush

This may be true, but remember that many Presidents have been more passive than Bush and rode the wave of the economy, war, treaties, congress, and so on.

Bush, on the other hand, has been very busy from day one. Literally, I mean the man issued how many executive reversals of generally assumed public policy in his first days? ::sigh:: How I wish he would have taken MORE vacation time..

Let's also remember that many people voted Bush not because they wanted to vote Bush, but because of what they felt was a trust issue with the Democratic Party after Clinton. So they were voting for not-Gore. (For those that say Clinton's indiscretions weren't anybody's business but his, remember that his primary indiscretion was never, ever Monica. It was when he lied to the American public in prime time, and made people embarassed for the Office. My father, a straight-down-the-middle moderate, wouldn't vote for anyone from that administration for exactly that reason. I know, I know.. bad reason to vote. But to him, it was immense.)

I don't feel this is totally different from other elections, remember, the presidency is like a four-year term with an option for four more. If it was 2008, it might be different, but this is an election for an incumbent. OF COURSE it's voting for who you don't want.

Re:This is much needed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10195372)

For those that say Clinton's indiscretions weren't anybody's business but his, remember that his primary indiscretion was never, ever Monica. It was when he lied to the American public in prime time, and made people embarassed for the Office.

Same with my father in law. Funny thing is, the lies of Reagon, Bush, and Bush don't count, because they were about policy. That's what he says.

Re:This is much needed! (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196245)

You've hit the crux of the matter. The Republicans are *too effective*. Most of the time, even during Wartime, we don't really need an activist government, left wing or right wing. Most of the time the machinery of the government runs itself quite well, thank you.

We currently have an effective, activist government with no popular mandate pushing its agenda mercilessly over the other half of the country. Talking to some people at work who approve of the current administration, they don't even seem to recognize that meaningful dissent exists, and consider the dissenters to be idiots or others of negligible opinion. That attitude is in itself a problem.

Personally, I like 3 of the Supreme Court Justices, and the other 6 are effectively useless. If I can guess before the case comes up how they will vote, and see no new insight from their deliberation, why bother. I am in no hurry to see the 3 swing Justices replaced by either Left or Right. IMHO it would be best for the country for them to be replaced under a mixed administration, so perhaps we can keep swing Justices, or maybe have more than 3.

In this election I have been Anyone But Bush Again, for the above reasons and others. By the way, I'm a mix between straight-down-the-middle and Contrarian. Right now I feel the whole country is pretty well right of the middle, and my Contrarian instincts are kicking up pretty hard.

I generally haven't held much for Kerry. But just ONCE I saw him unfiltered by the "news organizations" when he gave his acceptance speech at the DNC on C-SPAN, and was quite impressed. There has not been an opportunity for a repeat performance, just more poorly-chosen soundbites. As you say, after 4 years we *know* what Bush has done and presumably will continue to do, regardless of any words. It is much more important to know what Kerry would do. (extra comparison remark removed)

IMHO the News Service is doing a terrible dis-service to our country in the selection of stories they run, and how they run them. THAT statement is non-partisan, by the way.

An upgrade to Nader Traders (1)

mec (14700) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198140)

Here's an idea.

Remember the "Nader Traders" of 2000? They were a way for mainstream Democrats and more progressive liberals to work together to get more votes for Nader without hurting Gore. Indeed, the original Nader Traders said that they signed up several thousand people in Florida in 2000 to trade Gore votes into Florida ... imagine what history would be like if they had gotten 1000 more trades for Gore!

How about setting up some trades for people who are sick of both major parties but feel forced to pick one of them to keep the other one out?

So all the conversatives who think that Bush and the neocons are headed for an American Empire and a crushingly huge government pair up with progressives who think Kerry's an establishment tool but at least he's not Bush. They each agree not to vote for the rotting, corrupt major party candidate. "I won't vote for Kerry if you won't vote for Bush". Kerry and Bush both lose, and Nader, Badnarik, Cobb, and Peroutka gain. So do the voters, because they get to vote for what they *really want*, without running into that "a vote for Peroutka is a vote for Kerry!" crap.

It actually gives some of the advantages of IRV -- registering your real choice -- without having to change the whole election system. Just pair up.

Whaddaya say?

I have my doubts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10195081)

I don't think this will work, since the parties won't want to give up control.

Is that the truth? (1)

photon317 (208409) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195091)


Do the American People really want a fair debate as you've outlined, or are they perfectly happy with the two-party debate control that mirrors the two-party government? I'm a big fan of breakign the two-party regime, but I'm not most Americans really care much.

Look at Dean's fans. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195808)

People DO care if they believe they can make a difference.

But the first step is showing them that they can make a difference. And debates would be a good start.

I want to see a debate in Salem, OR (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195109)

That would be really cool. I probably couldn't get near it, but it would still be cool.

It's about dang time things changed (1)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195136)

The debates should definately be open to anyone who is on the ballot in enough states to be able to win the election. In other words, if it is possible (not necessarily probable) for them to win enough electorial votes to win, they should be in the debates.

Last I heard (this was around the time Harry Browne ran the first time) the commission uses some vague standard of viability which appears to me designed to eliminate anyone other than democrats and republicans.

Re:It's about dang time things changed (2, Interesting)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198201)

The debates should definately be open to anyone who is on the ballot in enough states to be able to win the election. In other words, if it is possible (not necessarily probable) for them to win enough electorial votes to win, they should be in the debates.

Exactly. All this polling percentage crap, and subjective measures of "popularity" need to go out the window. Any candidate who has a mathematical chance of winning, should be in the debates. Right now that would mean, I believe, Bush, Kerry, Badnarik, and Peroutka. Not sure if Nader or Cobb are on ballots with enough electoral votes to have a chance to win. Badnarik is confirmed on enough ballots to have 466 electoral votes available though, so he would definitely be in under this system. Peroutka is on 35 states' ballots, so I *think* he probably has a mathematical chance as well.

There's a reason for two parties - (1)

fastpacket (765728) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195320)

The reason we have two political parties is to foster the middle path. Rather than a parliamentary system where governments are formed from many small parties appealing to fringe interests, two party government was supposed to foster consensus. I don't think any of the original architects of our two party system ever envisioned the current polarized society. Maybe it's time to open it up. Fastpacket Just part of a twisted pair . . .

Re:There's a reason for two parties - (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195602)

There were no "original architects of our two party system" -- the Founding Fathers, based on their speeches and writings of time, apparently wanted a non-partisan government. They should have known better, of course, given that definable parties were forming in American politics well before the Constitution was written, but there's no evidence that they intended it to happen. The fact that our system strongly favors two parties instead of multiple parties is an accident of its structure.

Re:There's a reason for two parties - (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196784)

I don't think any of the original architects of our two party system ever envisioned the current polarized society.

Yeah, um, you might want to look up why we have odd compromises like a bicameral legislature (which I think actually worked out pretty well, until computerized gerrymandering became popular for House seats) and absolutely bizarre things like slaves counting as 3/5 of a person. Our house has been divided against itself (can any housing contractors please explain to me what it means for a house to be divided against itself?) and if the founders didn't realize that, they were incredible fools.

Re:There's a reason for two parties - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10196918)

it means the members of the household are fight amounst themselfs

Re:There's a reason for two parties - (1)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197226)

Slaves counting as 3/5ths of a person was a deliberate move by anti-slavery advocates. It reduced southern representation in the federal government (remember, representatives are assigned by state population), and was one of the reasons Lincoln and the Radical Republicans were able to gain so much power in the house and senate.

Re:There's a reason for two parties - (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197168)

Thank you! I'm glad somebody gets it.

The problem we face, more than anything, is that either lifespans are too short or public schools can't teach history. Like everything else, partisanship is on the end of a pendulm. Except this pendulum's period is measured in decades.

The two-party system, for all its flaws, is demonstrably superior to any other system of representative government yet devised.

Re:There's a reason for two parties - (2, Insightful)

jpop32 (596022) | more than 10 years ago | (#10199214)

The reason we have two political parties is to foster the middle path.

Yeah, a great idea, indeed. But, why stop there? Two party system still allows for some dissent and fragmentation! I think that a clearly superior system would be a ONE PARTY system! Then the nation would be united all the time, no dissenting views, no confision, no tiresome politicking!

That's definitely the way to go, right? One nation, one party, one leader? Hmmm... Sounds vaguely familiar...

Upside and Downside (2, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195358)

There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.

Everything in an election of this level is measured by how it will affect the candidate's chances. If the upside of staying away is greater than the downside of attending, then the candidate will stay away, period.

Former CIA Director George H.W. Bush lost, in no small part, because he let Perot go over his head to talk directly to the American people. Armed with the facts, the people voted against Bush Sr. That's called "democracy", the same thing we pay lip service to in Iraq and Afghanistan these days.

Of all his daddy's mistakes, this is the one that former Texas Governor George Dubya Bush won't make again. He knows better than to trust the people to make an informed choice.

And to be fair, I don't see an upside for Kerry, either. The Greens' candidate (David Cobb, dude, NOT NADER!) will be happy to call Kerry to account for his own sins.

Re:Upside and Downside (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195376)

There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.

Call them and complain!

Re:Upside and Downside (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195581)

Foo: There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.
Bar: Call them and complain!

I may, but I can't put much faith in our ability to convince either candidate to make a decision that is clearly not in his best interest. I'm not willing to try to lie and say I'm undecided, for one thing. It would also be hard to hide where I'm calling from... as great as it would be for Kerry to win Texas, there are still too many folks here who remember George W. as a good governor, not as a poor president.

All I'm left with is an appeal to the candidates' better nature. While I believe that each one is probably a great guy, really, I know that their *campaigns* have no "better nature" to appeal to.

Or maybe I'm just feeling a bit fatalistic these days.

Re:Upside and Downside (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195738)

I may, but I can't put much faith in our ability to convince either candidate to make a decision that is clearly not in his best interest.

That misses the point, I think. If enough people complain, it becomes in their interest to deal with it, in various ways. Mostly, because if enough people complain, the bad press will follow. Then one of them will leap up to grab the good press, and the other will follow soon after.

Maybe the next Gore or McCain will change things (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195700)

There will be no change until, for some reason, the two major parties both think it's in their best interest. And I can't imagine how that would come about.

If we had run the final 2000 presidential election based on Condorcet or approval voting instead of plurality voting, Nader wouldn't have been a "spoiler" and Gore would have won. If we had run the whole 2000 presidential election based on Condorcet or approval voting, McCain could have run past the primaries without worrying about splitting the Republican vote, and in a vote including both Republicans and Democrats he would have beaten Bush and Gore by a nice margin.

If our two-party system (for which plurality voting is the primary cause and closed debates are just a symptom) was just screwing third party candidates, then I wouldn't expect it to ever change. But popular Democrats and Republicans are feeling the pinch now, too, and eventually some of them may be smart enough to realize why and try to fix it. And once the underlying causes are fixed, it won't matter what the "Official Republicrat Debate Rules" are, because if more than two candidates stood a real chance of winning the election, reporters would be beating down their doors to give all the contenders a forum to speak.

Debate? Debate what? (3, Insightful)

FFFish (7567) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195398)

I'm just a lowly Canuck, so I can't claim as to have been paying a great amount of attention to what's going on with that smaller country beneath us, but my general impression is that the two US candidates are far more focused on 30 year-old war records instead of things like, oooh, say the economy, or healthcare, or foreign affairs, or education, or...

So, what exactly would they debate?

Re:Debate? Debate what? (1)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197240)

You're right. You haven't been paying much attention. Only one of the candidates is focused on a 30-year old war record. The other candidate is busy focusing on the current war the U.S. is fighting.

Remember this past Democratic Primary? (2, Insightful)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195405)

This is an awful idea. Doesn't anyone remember the Democratic debates we just suffered through? They'd have ten people up there--half of which were clearly just up there for publicity (all the ones who didn't have Senator, Governor, or General in front of their name were just shameless attention grabbers with no hope of winning) and you'd only hear about five minutes each from the candidates who were serious about running. It was a complete waste of their energy and the viewer's time. I'm sorry, but in a country of 270 million people, there is simply no possible way to hear from every single idiot who wants to be president. Debates are not supposed to be excuses to get your name out or for radicals to "send a message" to the establishment--it's how we pick the leader of the United States of America.

While Kerry is certainly infinitely better than Bush, I think a lot of Democrats are starting to rethink their belief that he was the most electable candidate in the pack--and no wonder, they only listened to him talk for five minutes, with a soundbite or two on the evening news every day.

Sure, I hate the two party system--but that hatred does not extend to two-person debates. I mean, they don't invite every single baseball team to the World Series, do they? It's not fair to rely on the debates at the end of the election season to boost yourself out of single-digit territory.

Re:Remember this past Democratic Primary? (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195492)

You're only seeing half the picture. The other half would include a reform of the form of the debates, as well. There are many different ideas of how to accomplish it. Just because the Democrats did it one way doesn't mean anything.

Also, you misunderstand the criteria. Likely, it would be based on a. elgibility (35 years old, born citizen, etc.), b. on enough ballots to win, c. running at least 5% in the polls.

The 5% is a compromise, based on the fact that it is already codified into our laws: if you get 5% of the "popular vote" in one election, you get federal matching funds in the next. The current criterion the CPD uses is 15%, so you have candidates who qualify for federal money (as Perot did in '92), getting federal money (in '96), but not being heard by the people whose money he is getting (because Dole and Clinton would not let him be heard).

Re:Remember this past Democratic Primary? (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196717)

The 5% is a compromise, based on the fact that it is already codified into our laws: if you get 5% of the "popular vote" in one election, you get federal matching funds in the next.

That sucks. It's way the heck easier to subdivide money than it is to subdivide time in debates. 15% sounds like a good criteria to me--if in four years you can't get more than 15% of people to care about you, maybe you aren't worth further attention.

On the other hand, if everyone is so hung up on the difference between federal matching fund rules and debate eligibility, why not TRULY bring both of them in sync--lower debate eligibility to 5% but offer MATCHING TIME--the more popular candidates should receive more time than 5% also-rans.

Re:Remember this past Democratic Primary? (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198242)

if in four years you can't get more than 15% of people to care about you, maybe you aren't worth further attention.

If you are not getting high poll numbers, the media won't cover you, and you won't get high poll numbers. It's a catch-22, and saying that it invalidates your candidacy is very undemocratic. They got enough signatures to get on the ballots in enough states to win the Presidential election: that in itself demonstrates validity.

Re:Remember this past Democratic Primary? (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195850)

I'm sorry, but in a country of 270 million people, there is simply no possible way to hear from every single idiot who wants to be president.

Why? It's easy to have a list of questions, and have every candidate fill it out. We do that here for local issues, it would work just fine for the President. Should also have y/n answers, so we can find out who is for or against an issue. Cut right through the bullshit.

Then you debate on the issues, not the person. Which this whole presidency is just about the person. The DNC/RNC had little talk about issues, but how the other guy "Sux"...

Neither Bush or Kerry is that impressive, but you have to vote for the least evil person.

And for me, Personal rights vs Taxes, thats a tough choice, who the fuck do you vote for?

Re:Remember this past Democratic Primary? (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196040)

They'd have ten people up there--half of which were clearly just up there for publicity (all the ones who didn't have Senator, Governor, or General in front of their name were just shameless attention grabbers with no hope of winning)

And the funniest part was that the only candidate out of all these that actually showed a personality was Al Sharpton, the biggest joke candidate of the lot. No wait, that was the saddest part.

Come on, now (1)

JavaRob (28971) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196154)

Insightful? This isn't a yes/no question. And comparing *one* aspect of the idea, lowering the current bar (which would only allow two candidates) to the Democratic primary debates, which had, yes FIFTEEN people, is nonsense. No one except your straw man is arguing for lowering the bar *that* low.

I'm wondering about your last remark, too:
I mean, they don't invite every single baseball team to the World Series, do they? It's not fair to rely on the debates at the end of the election season to boost yourself out of single-digit territory.

Not fair? Do you think politics works anything like baseball? Imagine a baseball game where the team against the Yankees wasn't even allowed to take the field at most games, because they couldn't afford the turfing fees. And instead of competing, the teams would each broadcast their own, grossly conflicting accounts of the game, over competing (and very expensive) loudspeakers, and at the end of the World Series the spectators would pick the champions based on who has the coolest uniforms, whose faces they remember more, and which loudspeaker they were sitting next to most often.

But hey, that's politics for you. 95% of the time it's the candidate who spent the most money who wins the election. 99% of the electorate is going to vote based on what their friends/family say, plus vague ill feelings from smear ads with blatant falsehoods in them, and vague good feelings because candidate A or B kind of reminded them of a frat brother, or an uncle, or whatever.

So if we wanted to make this *more* fair, instead of less fair, a few changes even in the limited realm of the debates would be a step forward.

I want to see someone point it out, right away, when a candidate is asked a question and provides an answer that is pure fluff set on high spin. I want the question to be asked multiple times if necessary, until an answer is provided.

What did Kennedy do after the Bay of Pigs fiasco? He was no god among men, but he said "how could I have been so stupid?" He called it a "colossal mistake". Is there some magic involved? Why does no politician even admit to changing an opinion, nowadays? I just want to smack 'em, all of them, and say "grow up". Whoa, sorry - ranting.

So yes, I want debates where hard questions are asked, and where citizens get to hear more than just the same plastic answers, unquestioned. I want an army of fact checkers working in the back room who will provide clarifications to misleading or just false statements that are made, all while the candidates are still there (not the next day, on a website somewhere). I don't think this will fix everything, but it's a step in the right direction.

And if a candidate comes roaring out from the wee digits in the polls after the debates... isn't that a glorious thing? How is that in any way unfair? I'd see that as a rare sign of fairness in the system -- they got to say their piece, they answered the hard questions, and people liked what they had to say.

Whew; sorry for the harsh tone, but the political nonsense really pisses me off. Anyone up for a drink? Raise your glass and clink the monitor with me now -- to a better world for our children. Or, you know, maybe their grandkids.

Re:Come on, now (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196678)

Not fair? Do you think politics works anything like baseball?

No, I think a debate is similar enough to baseball games--or contests in general--to make my analogy valid. Think of the season up until the debates as the baseball season, and the debates themselves as the world series.

No one except your straw man is arguing for lowering the bar *that* low.

Well, everyone keeps saying 5%. That's pretty freaking low--a theoretical maximum of 20 candidates. So what they're saying is even LOWER than my straw man. Which wasn't really a straw man--it's not like the Democratic primary debates (or the 1996 Republican primary debates) were imaginary.

And if a candidate comes roaring out from the wee digits in the polls after the debates... isn't that a glorious thing? How is that in any way unfair?

It's not unfair that you roar out to the front, what's unfair is that you only had single digits and you expected equal debate time with other candidates running 30, 40, or 50 or 60 percent.

It sounds like you want a much more complicated, time consuming debate--which is cool, but if that's the case, it sounds to me like all the more reason we need to exclude single-digit candidates.

Re:Come on, now (2, Insightful)

JavaRob (28971) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197505)

Well, everyone keeps saying 5%. That's pretty freaking low--a theoretical maximum of 20 candidates.

Okay, I know math, too, and you seem to be claiming that it's *likely* that we'll have 20 candidates, each with precisely 5% of the vote. Huh? Check some actual polls -- once you cut Bush and Kerry voters out of the numbers, you only have somewhere between 3-11% left, including undecideds (most of whom are deciding between Bush/Kerry). In the 2000 election, candidate #3 (Nader) got 2.75% of the vote. Candidate #4 (Buchanan) got 0.42%. So... we're going to get 20 debate candidates? We might not even get 3.

That's why I called straw man. I'm not saying the Democratic primary debates were "imaginary" -- I'm saying it's disingenuous to claim that's what we'll get if we try to make any changes to the current presidential debate system.

It's not unfair that you roar out to the front, what's unfair is that you only had single digits and you expected equal debate time with other candidates running 30, 40, or 50 or 60 percent.

I don't agree, because I think the system's weighted from the start against the smaller candidates (and the debates is finally a place where your facetime doesn't depend on how much you pay!), but I understand your point here.

It sounds like you want a much more complicated, time consuming debate--which is cool, but if that's the case, it sounds to me like all the more reason we need to exclude single-digit candidates.

Well, see above re. the "much more complicated, time consuming" bit... but there are other arguments for the 5% bar. Another poster made a good point that seems relevant here -- your party can get federal money to support your campaign if you got more than 5% in the previous election. If our money is paying for these campaigns, shouldn't we get to hear them speak on even ground, even if only for a couple of hours out of the entire campaign?

Re:Remember this past Democratic Primary? (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197117)

I'm sorry, but in a country of 270 million people

294,221,787 [census.gov]

Not an important point. I only bring it up because you were off by twenty-four million people. Which is, you know, huge. That's more than the population of Australia. You were off by a whole continent.

Anyway, it's just a point of trivia.

Wow, fuck the politics logo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10195436)

It's bad enough when god damn political parties wrap themselves in the flag. The flag is not *political* damnit, it's not *partisan* and it shouldn't be used to label political or partisan things. It's supposed to be a respected symbol of the United States, a "seal" if you will.

#00FF00 (1)

xenostar (746407) | more than 10 years ago | (#10195507)

I think a 3-way debate with Ralph Nader would bring a very sobering realization to alot of people watching it. Too bad it would never happen.

Re:#00FF00 (1)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197181)

Yes. And that realization is, "Ralph Nader is a fucking loon. I feel much better about voting for my party of choice now."

Open to "all"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10195652)

Just like we had here in California for the recall election? We had a porn star, a black midget, a bitchy lady, the terminator, so arrogant hispanic guy, and a couple other dudes.

A waste of time but entertaining!

fuck them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10195835)

I hate telmarkters, and the politicals ones are the evils, well this fucking year I am going to plug my phone line into my computer, fuck you political telmarkers enjoy the high pitch sounds

Awesome write-up on the history of the debates. (4, Interesting)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196246)

Commission on Presidential Debates [everything2.com]

I found this a few months ago and I think it's an awesome little history of how the debates were wrestled from the control of the League of Women's voters. Please read this before complaining about third party candidates entering the debates.

There are more brief histories on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and Disinfopedia [disinfopedia.org] . If you are at a university with access to bigger encyclopedia that cost money I suggest you poke through the history of the debates on one of those.

The overall lesson you'll learn is that the United States Commission on Presidential Debates is completely unfair to everyone but the two big parties... and how many of us completely agree with either or those?

For those of you who don't like Bush, check here [electoral-vote.com] and notice that all the midwestern states that support him are also the larger supporters of Nader. All those complaints that Nader is taking points from Kerry are self-defeating. Those complaints are just causing the conservatives who don't like Bush to vote for him anyway since they really don't like Kerry and they don't believe there's anyone else available since the other options get downplayed so heavily.

America needs debate reform, and that's a requirement before we'll get more parties.

--Matthew

no shit they should open up the debates (3, Insightful)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 10 years ago | (#10196517)

of COURSE they should open up the debates.. why is this even in question? One thing that never ceases to irk me is that the US goes around talking about democracy and how great it is and goes as far as starting WARS in the name of democracy, when they BARELY EVEN HAVE ONE. I'm sorry, but a two-party system is NOT my definition of democracy. Democracy is supposed to represent CHOICE, and when you're forced two choose between the lesser of two evils, in what way does that represent freedom? And as to whether or not it is doable: We have 4-party debates in every election in Canada and although granted the votes usually fall mostly on two of the more prominent parties, at least we give people the option. (Consider that if a party has no voice, it's not really an option, is it, since no one will have any idea what their vote would be representing.) Frankly I was apalled this year in our election debates when I discovered that the Green Party had a candidate in almost every riding, and yet was not invited to the debate. I'm not a Green Party advocate, but I think if you've got something to say, and you're willing to say it all over the country, you should be given a chance to do so. Face it, the "democracy" in the states is nothing more than two huge power groupings fighting over control. It is focused entirely on collecting votes, and has nothing to do with actual issues. It has nothing to do with what's good for the people, which is supposed to be what democracy is all about. The American political system doesn't consider votes the be the expression of peoples' opinions on various issues, it considers them some kind of currency, and the political parties are nothing but profit-centered corporations that use commercialism and subversive techniques to make as much "vote-profit" as possible.

zerg (2, Interesting)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197991)

You know what? Fuck the debates. They're not important.

I'll tell you what is important: Slashdot interviews. It's shameful that the wankers running this site haven't already solicited slashdotters for +5 insightful questions that they want answers to.

Celebrity Deathmatch (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#10197997)

"Bring it on!"

Funny (1)

shfted! (600189) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198030)

Whenever I see CDC, I think of Cult of the Dead Cow [cultdeadcow.com] .

Badnarik vs Cobb (1)

mec (14700) | more than 10 years ago | (#10198090)

I saw the Badnarik/Cobb debate in New York City last week.

There were about 200 people in the audience. C-SPAN had a crew there.

The candidates didn't directly question each other. They made opening statements; the moderator asked prepared questions of them both.

And then the really good part: the moderator asked both candidates questions submitted from the audience. And I got a kick because one of the questions was mine. ("Each of you has a small chance of winning. What goals do you hope to achieve by running a third party presidential campaign?")
Afterwards I chatted with some real live people from across the aisle. This is what politics is supposed to be: go out to a church or town hall, listen to some candidates, ask them some questions, talk with some people with different views.
Cobb and Badnarik will debate again on October 6 at Cornell.

OD is a radical cheap labor conservative scam. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10198755)

Check the gang leaders [opendebates.org] .

Make special note of Paul M. Weyrich, infamous for the 'drown government in a bathtub' quote. Want to know why the debt is so high? Not a bug, by design, by thugs like Weyrich.

Now take a look at the astroturfing in this thread, the dreaded 5th column.
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