Debates are incredibly important for Greens, anyone who supports Green candidates, and anyone who supports independent politics in general, for a number of reasons.
First of all, debates are watched by people across the political spectrum, so they offer a rare chance to publicize Green positions outside the usual echo chambers that politics has been boxed into (corporate media that only covers horse races, independent media outlets that cater to small self-selected audiences, Fox News and talk radio that serve as a megaphone for right-wing corporatist propaganda, etc). This ability to reach a general audience with a Green message not only attracts new people to vote for Green candidates and join the Green Party, it puts pressure on politicians of other parties to adopt Green positions that are popular. Conversely, when Greens are excluded from debates, many vital issues don’t get addressed at all: single-payer health care, runaway military spending, climate change, the failed war on drugs, corporate personhood, and the utter corruption of pay-to-play politics, to name but a few.
Secondly, watching (or attending/participating in) debates and inviting others to join you is an essential act of participating in a healthy democracy. It keeps you informed, open to new ideas, and aware of the crucial role of civil discourse in a pluralistic society.
Finally, there may be no better way to make a case for the Green Party than to actively demand that our candidates participate in the debates. Every time a qualified candidate is shut out from the debates, it makes a mockery of democracy – and people recognize that when it’s brought to their attention. The various mechanisms used by the political establishment to shut out independent voices and maintain the stranglehold of the corporate-sponsored political duopoly need to be exposed for what they are: a concerted attack on the right and freedom of Americans to choose their own government. Open debates activism is also an opportunity to build transpartisan alliances with Libertarians, Socialists, Constitutionalists, and other independents, which helps our pro-democracy message to reach a larger audience across ideological lines.
Right now, I know of a handful of broadcast debates in which Greens will participate. We need your help to find out about others: where Greens will be in the debates, and where they are planning actions aimed at getting in the debates. Such actions can be successful: Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May was included in a nationally televised debate after her supporters publicly protested her exclusion with letters, calls, and other activism. Even when our actions fail to get our candidates on the debate stage, they help open the eyes of our fellow citizens to what we are fighting for. So without further ado, here is a short list of upcoming debates to watch; please help me expand it by looking up debates/debate activism in your state and leaving information in the comments.
9/21 MA Governor debate with Jill Stein – 7 PM – WCVB-TV (Channel 5), WHDH-TV (Channel 7), WGBH-TV (Channel 2), New England Cable News (NECN), WBUR, WTTK-FM, WBZ-AM
9/26 AZ Senate debate with Jerry Joslyn – 6 PM – KTVK channel 3 in Phoenix, streamed at AZfamily.com
10/11 AR-1 House debate with Ken Adler – 6:30 PM – AETN
10/11 AR-2 House debate with Lewis Kennedy – 6:30 PM – AETN
10/12 AR Governor debate with Jim Lendall – 8 PM – AETN
10/12 CA Governor “eco-friendly” debate – Greens likely to protest exclusion at Dominican University in San Rafael
10/13 AR Senate debate with John Gray – 6:30 PM – AETN
10/13 AR-4 House debate with Joshua Drake – 8 PM – AETN
10/15 AR Attorney General debate with Rebekah Kennedy – 7:30 PM – AETN
10/26 MA Governor debate – Jill Stein must raise $100,000 by 10/1 to participate