American voters feel like they are caught between the extremes of both parties, and while it should be inevitable that a competitive independent candidate runs for President - our political system is controlled by a duopoly doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening.
It doesn't seem to matter to them that distrust of our government is at an all-time high, or that by a wide majority, Americans say they want to vote for an alternative to the Democratic and Republican nominees in 2016.
Esteemed political strategist and pollster Doug Schoen writes in Forbes last week that "the key lesson of the primary season thus far is this: Americans are hungry for political outsiders." He says there is a "tide of anti-establishment sentiment" and that this cycle, "when you preach political revolution, people listen."
Why then, has no serious, independent contender stepped up to run for president? The answer is they know they can't compete because the two major parties have rigged our system to prevent anyone who is not affiliated with the two parties from getting elected. Just take the two-party stranglehold on access to the fall debates, for example. As long as something called the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) sticks to its current debate access policy, there will be only two debaters.
As InsideSources, a popular Internet news site, put it last week: "If there remains one secretive, smoke-filled backroom in the process of picking an American president...it's the Commission on Presidential Debates - a powerful, privately funded nonprofit that does much of its work behind closed doors."
While most Americans refuse to identify with the two-party system, the CPD does its damnedest to preserve it. As the CPD's board members know very well, you can't get elected president without being in the debates. Ever since Ross Perot frightened the two parties in 1992 with his presence on the stage, the CPD has worked hard to avoid a repetition. No more independents!
In its latest charade, the CPD pretended to deliberate for 11 months to come up with a new set of criteria for debate access. Politics has changed, some of its board members acknowledged, and the CPD needs to reflect this new America. But in the end, after an inexcusable delay, the rules were finally issued - and they were exactly the same as before!
The CPD did, however, concede that the decision was the result of a "majority" vote. In other words, the board's decision was not unanimous. There was no consensus.
David Eldridge, the reporter who wrote the InsideSources piece, quite naturally, asked the CPD how many directors dissented and who they were. But the secretive CPD refused to tell him.
Our own sources say it's even worse than that: CPD board members reportedly took a vow of silence on the vote. While most of the commissioners are party stalwarts, three are respected journalists: Charles Gibson, Bob Schieffer, and Jim Lehrer. How did they vote? Please tell us they did not agree to keep their votes secret?
Secret voting or not, 19 people should not control who has a credible chance to win the presidency.Stop anyone in the street and ask if they think a Presidential candidate can win the election without participating in the October debates. They will say no. Then ask how they would feel knowing for as long as they and every member of their family will live, they will only see Democratic and Republican nominees in the debates. Tell them there are 19 individuals unknown and unaccountable to the American people with the power to change the rules determining who can be in the Presidential debates, but who have again refused to do so. Dr. Schoen says he doesn't need a poll to confirm "Americans would never support the permanent restriction of their choices for the White House."
We sure hope that Matthew Dowd will turn out to be right, and that a serious, qualified alternative to the Democrat and Republican nominees will emerge.
America's voters, demanding their right to hear from a third, independent choice, can restore the integrity of our political system - which is meant to be non-partisan - and relegate the apparatchik who dominate the CPD to the ash heap of history.