Sen. Joe Lieberman wrote those words today in a powerful opinion piece headlined "Frozen Out" in U.S. News & World Report.
No one in America can testify more expertly on the wrongs being perpetuated by the Commission on Presidential Debates ("CPD") than Lieberman. In addition to being Al Gore's running mate in 2000, he served six years as attorney general of Connecticut and 24 years as U.S. Senator, first as a Democrat and then as an Independent.
Lieberman is one of 50 respected Americans who are signers of a letter to the 17 Directors of the CPD, demanding that it change its debate access rules, which purposely prevent an independent candidate from participating in the final fall debates.
The CPD has come under intense criticism in recent months, both from Change the Rule, the group of which Lieberman is a part, and from the Annenberg Working Group on Presidential Campaign Debate Reform.
The Annenberg reforms would put the unelected CPD out of business. Change the Rule, by contrast, is trying to persuade the CPD, which is dominated by party regulars, to end its obstructionism and follow the will of America's voters.
As Lieberman writes, "In short, the two major parties - through the Commission on Presidential Debates - have concocted a rule that makes it almost impossible for independent candidates to run successfully for president. That is wrong."
In record numbers, America's voters today are independents. On July 5 on "Meet the Press," moderator Chuck Todd cited a NBC/WSJ poll showing that independents very nearly outnumber Democrats and Republicans, combined.
The largest political party in the United States is no longer a party at all. In fact, check out these stats: 45% of Americans now identify as independent according to our latest polling. That compares to just 27% who call themselves Democrats and 20% who say they are Republicans. What does this mean across the country?
Well, take a look at this. The number of unaffiliated registered voters has grown rapidly. In the 31 states plus the District of Columbia where voters have to pick a party when registering to vote unaffiliated or no-party voters are now the leading political party in 12 of those states. And in a few of them they're a majority of all registered voters.
No wonder Americans are disillusioned with their government and their political system. Lieberman put it well:
The public has become alienated by the two major parties because they are too often captured by the forces of ideology or partisanship, which is especially evident during the primary process... The public must have the option of voting for viable independent candidates when the two major parties no longer reflect or address their views. But the Commission on Presidential Debates...is denying the public this right at the presidential level.
Meanwhile, members of Change the Rule are pushing the CPD to support a spring competition to determine the independent on the stage in the fall of 2016. They're calling it "America's Primary" - and it would consist of a series of televised debates and an online election to determine the single independent candidate for the finals.
There are other solutions, certainly, but the CPD has been stonewalling for ten months. Perhaps if the members of the commission stopped plugging their ears and listened to distinguished Americans like Joe Lieberman, the CPD itself could take credit for improving the health of America's ailing democracy.