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Should Third-Party Candidates Be Included in Presidential Debates?

(WCTU) - Marianne Williamson, the progressive self-help author and former presidential candidate, took to social media and voiced strong objections on TikTok to the exclusion of third-party candidates from the upcoming presidential debate slated for June 27. Her remarks raised concerns about the diminishing diversity of political discourse in America.


The debate, which rapidly became a two-person event between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, followed Biden's public request for debate modifications, including the exclusion of third-party candidates. This move, endorsed by CNN and other major networks, is a continuation of what seems to have become a historical trend that has seen the consolidation of political debate formats around the two major parties since the 1960s.

Williamson, referencing the historical advocacy by George Washington and John Adams against the overreach of political parties, criticized the current debate setup, which she described as being dominated by what she terms a "Democratic-Republican debate commission." This commission, in her view, primarily serves the interests of these two parties at the expense of broader democratic engagement.


“When I was growing up, the idea was that we are a representative democracy, meaning the people decide. We are losing our country to forces beyond our control," Williamson stated, invoking Thomas Jefferson’s ideals of democracy rooted in the hands of the people. She lamented the sidelining of third-party candidates like the Green Party's Ralph Nader in 2000 and expressed concerns about the potential exclusion of contemporary third-party voices like Bobby Kennedy and Jill Stein.


The debate's format, a subsequent product of historical changes initially sparked by third-party candidate George Wallace’s influence, has evolved under the oversight of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Critics like Williamson argue that this has resulted in a narrowing of the political field to a duopoly, which she says does not reflect a true democracy.


"This isn’t about any particular candidate; it’s about democracy. Gandhi said the end is inherent in the means. You can’t save democracy by suppressing democracy," Williamson emphasized, urging her followers to demand inclusion in the debate process through social media campaigns and direct appeals to media and political parties.


Williamson called on her followers and upon all Americans to actively voice their discontent with the current presidential debate format. "We need to start making noise on social media, write to the Democratic Party, write to CNN, and tag them, saying we want other candidates to be part of the debate on June 27th," Williamson urged. She stressed the importance of being vocal and persistent: "Write to CNN, the DNC, and whomever else. Make noise. This is more than uncool; it's undemocratic."


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