EDITORIAL: All parties should take part in presidential debates

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There are a lot of stories coming out from the presidential debates between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

But you might have missed one story from the most recent presidential debate, one that is a cause for some concern. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her vice president running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested outside the last presidential debate Oct. 16 at Hofstra University. The two were attempting to peacefully enter the debate and represent their party, after being shut out and dismissed as viable presidential candidates.

When officers, standing three deep in front of Stein and Honkala, would not let them through, the Green Party candidates simply sat down in front of them. An officer then stood above them, reading from a card, and asked them to move. When they did not, they were arrested.

The reason for the arrest? The officer, who was reading from his card, stated Stein and Honkala were “blocking traffic.” A video recording shows the officers attempting to stop the Green Party candidates from entering the debate were the ones blocking what little traffic there was.

It’s baffling to us that Stein is not being taken seriously as a candidate for the presidency. This is not a statement of endorsement for her. It is a simple question of why a party, who will occupy 85 percent of ballots this election year across the country, cannot get their presidential candidate in a political debate for the public. According to a ballot access map on Stein’s official Web site, she and Honkala will appear on the ballot in 37 states, including Kentucky, and the District of Columbia. They will appear as write-ins in five states, including Indiana.

How is it possible that a candidate from a party with a popular stand throughout the U.S., and who will be on the ballot in the majority of states is denied the chance to address American voters?

According to truth-out.org, the Commission on Presidential Debates “stipulates that a candidate must garner at least 15 percent in national polls in order to participate…” The Green Party campaign states, Stein and Honkala only have 2 to 3 percent.

However, it is ludicrous in a democratic nation such as ours that the Green Party is being shut out of the presidential debates, especially when candidates from the party will appear on the majority of ballots in the country.

This is not about agreeing with the Green Party or Stein’s views and platforms. This is about her right to speak as a presidential candidate and the fact that not only was she denied, but she was arrested after attempting to peacefully enter the debate. The job of the media is to present all the facts to the public so readers, such as yourself, can make an informed decision. It is impossible for American voters to make an informed decision about who to vote for president this coming November when third-party candidates are shut out of debates and mocked for seeking exposure.

As stated above, the staff of the News is not giving an endorsement to Stein and Honkala. We simply believe that to make the presidential race fair, to give voters all the information they need, the Green Party candidates should be included in on media exposure.

Most American voters today talk of being bogged down by the partisanship in Washington, how they want a change and how they are looking for something different in a candidate. What is more different than a third-party candidate? Stein would bring a different perspective to voters, one that some may agree with. More people may even decide to head to the polls because they would have another choice.

We support having future presidential debates with third-party candidates like Stein involved. Let their voices be heard and give them a chance to answer the questions of the voters. It’s only fair to give Americans the chance to hear all sides and make a decision for themselves.

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