Imagine going to the store to buy some laundry detergent and finding only Era and Tide on the shelf. If you are in the minority, you might ask the manager if there are other detergents available. Her response would be "Yeah, we keep them in the back because we didn’t think anyone would be interested." The majority of people will simply settle for one of the two detergents that coincidentally are made by the same manufacturer and differ primarily in brand only. Why? Because they assume that the store would only offer the best products. The truth is that the store only promotes these two detergents because they’ve signed an exclusivity contract with Proctor and Gamble. So much for choice! Some might argue that such practices would be considered illegal and monopolistic.
Unfortunately this same scenario will be playing out starting this week as the 2008 Presidential Debates begin. The grocery store is The Commission on Presidential Debates. The exclusive detergents are Barack Obama and John McCain. The manufacturer is the corporate-sponsored Republican and Democratic parties.
Should the American voter have any other choices? Those in power certainly don’t think so. The fact is they will do everything they can to keep the majority from being exposed to other viable candidates. One candidate, on 45 out of 50 state ballots, is Ralph Nader. Infamous for his tough stances on corporations, is it any wonder that he isn’t invited to these corporate-sponsored debates? Does anyone else sense something drastically wrong here? Why has the USA sold out to private corporations such an important part of our election process?
Will the coming debates truly show the American people that they have a choice? A choice between two cut from the same cloth perhaps. We need Ralph Nader participating in these debates to ask the hard questions that won’t be asked otherwise. I don’t care if anyone votes for Nader. I do care that every voter is well informed of all issues and where each candidate stands. Only then can we have the most effective democratic election.