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If the two-candidate presidential debate from Denver proved anything, it was that President Obama is a terrible spokesperson for progressive values.   Romney's fervent claims that free market capitalism solves all problems could not be rebutted in any convincing way by a president who has spent the last four year betraying every progressive constituency that elected him.

At one point the president made the Romneyesque assertion that " The genius of America is the free enterprise system."  Really?  I thought the genius of America was that just power is based on the consent of the governed.

Fortunately, I was able to watch the "expanded debate" on Democracy Now in which the magic of video editing allowed two additional candidates to participate: Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.

Stein and Anderson quickly put Obama and Romney to shame.  They raised the debate out of its tedious quibbling and talked about real solutions that are being ignored by both Obama and Romney.  Voters would have come away much better informed if either Stein or Anderson had been allowed into the debate.

Another striking way in which the two-candidate debate failed was the way it sidestepped some of the most critical issues of domestic policy.  Things would have been different if Jill Stein had been allowed to stand on the podium and raise the issues she has been talking about on the campaign trail.  For example:

• Poverty.  Half of Americans are living in poverty or close to it.  Stein says that this is eating away the social fabric of the nation, and she wants to address poverty as an urgent problem. Obama and Romney spent their time talking about tax breaks for business owners.

• The big Wall Street giveaways, including the Obama Administration's latest massive outlay of $40b a month under the new "quantitative easement" program.  Stein opposes further bailouts and wants to break up the big banks that have grown even bigger since President Obama took office.

• The bloated Pentagon budget that has doubled since the fall of the Soviet Union, resulting in the United States spending as much as the rest of the world combined.  Obama and Romney would continue the spending with minor adjustments.  Stein says we can be just as secure while cutting back as much as 50%.

• Climate change. This is the greatest challenge our generation faces.  It's already killing a lot more people than terrorists, and yet Obama and Romney are foot-draggers in the battle.  Stein wants to push for international climate treaties and to launch a major industrial mobilization to move the nation toward clean, renewable energy.

• Stagnant wages.  While they will talk about jobs, Obama/Romney don't address the fact that the new jobs the economy is creating pay far less than the jobs that were lost.  Stein wants to push for livable wages and for labor laws that help workers get their fair share of productivity increases.

• The student debt crisis.  This is our greatest consumer debt problem and its undermining higher education.  Obama wants to be thanked for keeping the interest rates constant - in other words, for doing nothing.  Romney wants to make things worse by privatizing the loans.  Jill Stein would talk about bailing out students rather than Wall Street banks, and making higher education tuition free so that student debt does not continue to accumulate.

• Real solutions to health care. Romney and Obama propose Obamacare/Romneycare health care reforms that are destined to fail, resulting in cuts in coverage, rising co-payments, and medical bankruptcies.  Jill Stein would talk about a proven solution that is providing affordable health care around the world: Medicare-for-all.

• Big money in politics that is taking over our democracy.  As beneficiaries of the cash, Obama and Romney don't want this discussed.  Jill Stein would note that she refuses to take this money, and that she stands for public campaign financing that would roll back the ability of big donors to buy elections.

• Threats to civil liberties posed by the indefinite detention bill, the Patriot Act, and the growing spying network of the Department of Homeland Security.  Jill Stein would repeal the laws that infringe upon our civil liberties, and issue an executive order to forbid the FBI and Department of Homeland Security from infringing upon free speech.

• The secret contract of the Commission on Presidential Debates which reveals an intention to never allow any other candidates to challenge the Democratic/Republican duopoly.  This strikes at the heart of our democracy and if makes the United States the only developed democracy that allows two private parties to suppress their political opposition.

You don't have to agree with the Green Party on every issue to see that a debate on "domestic issues" is a sham if it dances away from all these topics.  And even more importantly, it could be argued that our nation is put at risk by having possible solutions to our critical problems censored and expunged from the national dialogue.  For our very survival, we need to break up the "only two candidates" censorship and challenge the degenerate journalism that sustains it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Too many Democratic Party leaders are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    conflicted about trickle-down economics. They know that over-concentration of wealth is both ethically and pragmatically problematic for the real economy, but at some level they truly do believe that it is too important to investment and job creation to reign in.

    Your assessment on the longer list of issues is well taken, also.

    Purging predominantly minority voters and requiring them to present IDs to vote in the face of VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT VOTER FRAUD is RACISM! I hereby declare all consenting Republicans RACISTS until they stand up and object to these practices!

    by Words In Action on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 08:34:32 AM PDT

  •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The two-party stranglehold limits debate.

    In multi-party countries, everything is on the table.

    "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed." -- Vaclav Havel

    by greendem on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:10:34 PM PDT

  •  John Nichols at The Nation agrees (0+ / 0-)

    "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed." -- Vaclav Havel

    by greendem on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:25:21 PM PDT

  •  Nice diary, thanks for a good summary, recommended (0+ / 0-)

    I've been giving these questions a great deal of thought and decided not long after I discovered Jill Stein quite by accident (as I was walking down Market St in Philadelphia and she was being arrested in front of Fannie Mae where she was protesting against foreclosures and being hauled off in a paddy wagon) that this was who I wanted to be president of the United States.

    She might not win this round but she is, as she puts it, "winning the day" by drawing the issues in the sky with refreshing clarity. Her party or something similar will win eventually but only if we start now and stop dawdling with this "lesser of two evils” crap.  With global warming and climate change (which Obama has hardly lifted a finger to ameliorate and in fact he has moved to worsen climate change with fracking -- see Howarth/Ingraffea at Cornell (PDF) -- and the Keystone XL pipeline -- see James Hansen at NASA who says development of tar sands served by Keystone pipeline will be "game over" for climate), we don't have any more time.

    Finally my vote counts for something real and not a promise for change that turns out to be the same as Bush or in some ways worse than Bush. Let's go ahead and have Bush again or Romney with the only serious difference being marginal social wedge issues that are largely bluffs anyway. I can't hide behind "lesser" anymore by voting for a president who masquerades as a Dem to gain our votes -- or more precisely to reap the capital in Social Security, Medicare and other public assets for his Wall Street pals. He's not doing it at gun point but merely loosening the bolts on the wheels of our Constitution, Treasury, military, energy policy, foreign policy, trade policy, healthcare and other institutions.

    The first steps back toward sanity have to be taken and I will take mine along with quite a significant number of my friends and family who are (often accidentally since the major commercial newsmedia are largely not covering third parties in any depth which is outrageous) discovering Jill Stein. She embodies the pendulum swinging back again toward sanity.

    Better than sanity, health.

    If my vote means somehow Mitt gets elected, then that is the battle for the next 4 years and at least we can fight more strongly against him to rebuild the progressive brand than have no traction against a president who pretends to be on our side while he betrays us at every turn and the progressive cause continues down the drain, little by little, compromising in advance as Obama loves to do, giving up in advance to avoid confrontation. Enough!

    Jill Stein is the best candidate I've seen in 50 years since I was a "Kid for Kennedy" at 18. All the candidates in between have been mediocre compared to this Harvard-educated medical doctor from Lexington. Mass who left her Trotting Horse Lane address to campaign for poor, disabled, and downtrodden people 10 years ago when she ran against Romney for governor of Mass and this time runs for president with a VP choice named Cheri Honkala who is the head of the Homeless Coalition of Philadelphia.

    She behaves like a doctor in a war zone.

    And that's what I want, an emergency physician who is going after the illness of politics as if life were in the balance. It is and she's here. Catch her if we can.

    I want a truth-teller like Stein who puts people first, and democracy first, not "business first." Not money first to destroy social services to pay the debt incurred by the corporate, Wall Street and military-industrial classes but puts people first with something as economically, socially and even politically smart as the Green New Deal. Read this thing, it's not pie in the sky. It's what FDR put together to get us out of the Depression in the 1930s, this time based on a renewable energy economy, implemented by direct executive action to put 25 million Americans back to work for the same cost as the famed but ineffective stimulus package, as Obama could do -- but won't spend the political capital.

    No matter who you vote for, you would be wise to send the Green New Deal to the next president and tell him (or her) to implement it.

    •  This needs to be repeated (0+ / 0-)

      from this diary:

      For our very survival, we need to break up the "only two candidates" censorship and challenge the degenerate journalism that sustains it.

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