Citing controversy over Fox News' decision to limit inclusion in the Aug. 6 Republican Party presidential debate to the 10 (out of 17) candidates, Richie calls out the R's and D's for the gross double standard that exists:
... let's acknowledge the elephant in the living room. Even though the major parties go out of their way to be inclusive in debates during their nominating process, they have colluded to block any presidential candidates other than their own from general election debates.
With a board co-chaired by two prominent major party activists, the self-appointed Commission on Presidential Debates has established an indefensible debate inclusion rule for the general election that has kept all independents and minor parties out of the debates since Ross Perot's first presidential run in 1992. It requires candidates to have an average of 15 percent in national polls despite the Catch-22 of such candidates being likely to be relegated to second-class media status in large part to the assumption they won't be in the debates.
Applied to this year's Republican field, the Commission's 15-percent threshold would leave Fox's stage with exactly one candidate: Donald Trump. The absurdity of that outcome underscores the case for broader debate inclusion, at least in the first Commission-sponsored debates. As a start, the call by Change the Rule for a process to guarantee a third voice in the debates, deserves strong support.
Anyone who thinks the Republican debate could be effective even when including just three of the current candidates as opposed to two of them should support Change the Rule's call for changes for general election debates.
Richie says, "[the Republican] debates are a time to hear more voices within the party, not just echoes. Allowing the party's diversity of views to have time on the stage means that those backing those views have more reason to watch -- and ultimately care about and be invested in the eventual nominee."
Certainly, the same can be said for the general election debates. Under current rules, inclusion in the debates this fall will be limited to 2 candidates - one Republican and one Democrat.
The broad Republican field and growing controversy over inclusion in the Republican debates show us that Republicans don't want their choices limited any more than unaffiliated or Independent voters do.
Richie closes his piece with a simple thought: "let's hope organizers of upcoming debates find a better way to determine who's on stage."
We couldn't agree more.