Monday, 1 October 2012

The consent manufacturing of the Commission on Presidential Debates

On 3 October in the United States, the first of three presidential debates between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will take place. There is arguably definite differences between the two candidates; it would be naive to claim them as indistinguishable. But nevertheless, they are mutually inclined to certain tendencies: such as warmongering on Iran and support for the Israeli government's violations of international human rights law, the failed and damaging 'War on Drugs', authoritarian laws eroding basic civil liberties such as the NDAA and SOPA, the CIA's mass-killing drone strikes in the Middle East, and general pandering to the interests of multinational corporations and financial institutions. Romney is undoubtedly a mendacious neoliberal kleptocrat in his own regard, but one of Obama's largest financial contributors is Lloyd Blankfein: the CEO and Chairman and chairman Goldman of Sachs, and a former economic adviser to George W. Bush. So though Obama and Romney will dispute their differences and attempt to have invented one-liners catch on in the public consciousness, they will be in the highly stage-managed confines of rhetorical monopoly, with no challenge to the opinions they mutually share, which will likely be dismissed and unaddressed entirely.  This is quite an explicit representation of the manufacture of political consent: by a two-headed one party state allowed to express their servile policies by corporate media control in the U.S., which Noam Chomsky has always described.

The Commission on Presidential Debates who coordinate them decide to obey to this pathetic whitewashing entirely. But there is no reason for them to: only their own pre-set guidelines of candidate inclusion which, perversely, make the opportunity for the candidates who are not the Democrat and Republican to participate an impossibility, due to their deliberate and systemic unacknowledgment by the very same media. I have emailed the media representatives of the Commission:

I am contacting you to join many others in expressing my dissatisfaction and disappointment with the Commission of Presidential Debates' exclusion of the Libertarian Party candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein from October's presidential debates (as well as that of of their respective running mates Judge Jim Gray and Cheri Honkala from the vice-presidential debates). The candidates are being excluded despite their eligibility and hypothetical mathematical possibility to win the election. The Commission should at least consider the inclusion of Gov. Johnson, given the fact he has major ballot access and has polling numbers on par with that of H. Ross Perot, who was allowed to debate with then President Bush and Gov. Bill Clinton in the 1992 election campaign.

The Commission claims itself to be non-profit organization without bias and in informative journalistic service. If so, then it should not limit the prism and openness of the national debate in evident partiality to the two main parties. Such exclusion, in my view, is in totally lax abandon of journalistic integrity and democratic legitimacy. The media in any free society should challenge power; not adhere to its dictated wishes. A number of your sponsors who have withdrawn their financial support of your activities appear to have the same view. I suggest their sentiments are heeded in accordance to the freedom of speech the American people deserve. How can it be justified to exclude such candidates based upon an arbitrary set of standards they are implicitly impeded from achieving by such inbuilt censorship of their views to a national audience? 

Whether or not we personally agree with candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to whatever extent is irrelevant. I encourage anyone, anywhere in the world, who cares about freedom of expression, do to the same accordingly. The emphasis of and by many people on the narrow prism of the debates may at least convince them to modify their lack of openness.

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