The arrest of candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala before Tuesday’s presidential debate deserves more than just an acknowledgment.
Oh, we would’ve expected them to be there – Stein should have been a participant. She is on the ballot on 37 states and, as her Green Party has pointed out, that is enough, given the electoral college system still in place, to possibly win election.
Similarly we could’ve predicted she’d be detained. We couldn’t have predicted the shabby treatment or the length of detention she and Honkala endured.
What made it a sad day in American politics, though, is that more people aren’t talking about it. When you stop and think about it … well I really can’t think of anything quite similar since James Michener’s description of the politics in pre-civil war Spain.
Stein noted that, in the past, the League of Women Voters sponsored the debates – not the committee that does so by contract with the Democrats and Republicans (including stipulations and restrictions on the content of the debates). Here is then League President Nancy M. Neuman’s published explanation that accompanied the 1988 withdrawal of the League of Women Voters from participation as debate sponsor:
“The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates…because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”
The conclusion I’ve come to is that Americans are just too proud to admit that anything’s really wrong here … that’s how we got hoodwinked and that’s why we won’t admit we got hoodwinked. Perhaps the answer is in a different kind of system, one in which the people participate a little more in government than just casting a vote every now and then.
Suffice to say that one could hear a lot of “who dya think won?” following the debate, or what passed for a debate, and hardly a whisper about Stein and Honkala’s arrest.
Nobody “won” … the event was another sham in an elaborate series of same.
Here’s an interesting question, though: If Stein wasn’t being taken seriously as a “competitive” candidate, why not simply let her and Honkala participate in the debates? Perhaps it’s moot; I rather doubt she’d have agreed to the stipulations of the “contract” keeping the debates free of substance.