Politics: February 1997 Archives

Sec. 315 and Other Things

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Do you want democracy back? Fix the frigging debates.

There are many problems with the debate system we have. For starters, we have Republicans and Democrats in Congress basically deciding how they should be run, which is inherently unfair to third-parties and "renegade" party members. We need to abolish the congressional debate committee.

But then we need to focus attention on the FCC and Sec. 315, which used to say that third parties who hosted a debate did not have to allow all potential candidates to speak, but news organizations did. But after a lawsuit with Citizens Party candidate Sonia Johnson in 1984, her plan backfired and the court held that even NEWS ORGS could refuse candidates.

So now we are in a situation where not all candidates are allowed to speak out of some sense of expediency that is based on poll data. Take the Atlanta station, for instance, that refused Alan Keyes to debate during the Georgia primary based on NEW HAMPSHIRE results. Regardless of your political affiliation, this should send chills up your spine. That in this case, we allow primary data from one state to dictate who is allowed to speak in another state. That in the presidential election, we allowed POLL DATA to dictate whether or not Ross Perot should be allowed to debate.

I like to quote Bob Dole, who said last summer that "the only poll that matters is election day" ... unless, of course, we are talking about Ross Perot.

We have the FCC for a reason, that reason being that airwaves are a public commodity. While I am tempted to use this as a reason for forcing the FCC to allow all candidates to speak, I won't, because airwaves might not matter so much in the not-too-distant future.

Instead, I will plead my case on the basis of the people's right to information. The two most important notions to the preservation of this nation are liberty and democracy. In this case, we are talking about democracy. Democracy depends -- totally relies -- on the free flow of information. Without free information, democracy is impossible.

But what has happened is that the government has given control over this information to the mass media, and in truth has given control of democracy itself to the media. That is unconstitutional and needs to be fixed immediately.

The federal government has a specific, vested interest in how the information in elections is presented, and has the right to regulate it if that regulation is specifically designed, and results in, freer information for the people. It has the right. It should use it.

What should be the requirements, then? If you are on enough ballots to win the election, you should be allowed to speak in all debates. Period. That simple. Democracy, being totally reliant on free information, mandates no less.

Now, obviously, this can only be specifically applied to the presidential election. But the federal government could set an example for the states to follow in primaries, senatorial, congressional and all local elections.

It is not too early to get together on this. Something needs to be done now, before it is, once again, too late.

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from February 1997.

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