Broken Turtle Blog

Broken Turtle Blog

Friday, August 10, 2012

UD to Limit Election Debate?

Andrew Groff for US Senate
(Green Party &
Endorsed by Libertarian Party)

Does anyone else in the UD community object to the lack of fair academic and democratic principles underlying the exclusion of minority parties and independent candidates from the October 17 and 18 UD-sponsored congressional and gubernatorial debates? Others are weighing in.

It is one thing for corporate media to be complicit in the deals cooked up by the major parties to exclude minority parties from debates; it is another for a university seeking “prominence” to truncate the discourse. Demonstrating a commitment to principles lacking at UD, the League of Women Voters withdrew their support for the Presidential debates after the two big parties took them over in 1988.

According to the press release published in UDaly, organizers of the debate, Director  of UD’s “nonpartisan” Center for Political Communication Ralph Begleiter and Delaware First Media President Micheline B. Boudreau, justify their exclusionary policy based on “nationally recognized debate inclusion criteria established by the Debate Advisory Standards Project.” Recognized by whom? by a political class that has discredited itself to many Americans?

Alex Pires for US Senate
They also rely on precedent, because they got away with this before in 2008 (and 2010), except that they had to suffer the embarrassment of Green Candidate Michael Berg hopping onto the stage with a campaign sticker over his mouth. The video went viral on YouTube.  

Among the criteria for inclusion: “3 campaign contributions per 1,000 residents . . . of $50 or more. “ Alternatively, candidates could poll 10 percent or more or have previously held political office. 50 bucks is a lot of money for folks unemployed or living on poverty wages. They may be disenchanted by the political class but know nothing about the alternatives, thanks to UD, and will be unlikely to cite minority candidates when polled.

Bernard August for US House
(Green Party)
Without irony, Micheline Boudreaus boasts that “[p]roviding avenues for civil discourse is a core component of our mission at DFM and WDDE. These debates also offer a premier learning experience to our student interns who assist in the production of the event.” Narrowing the discourse is hardly a “premier learning experience,” unless you are trying to indoctrinate students in received wisdom. For UD to take part in this pseudo-debate is a violation of its educational mission.

Scott Gesty for US House
Libertarian Party
So, how do the faculty, who are supposed to be guiding lights of the university curriculum, feel about this? Does their fear of left or right spoilers trump their obligations to an open discourse? I say the UD should insist that candidates who want to use their facilities must abide by the spirit of free inquiry and take on all comers. They include Andrew Groff (Green Party and endorsed by Libertarians) and Alex Pires (independent) for US Senate and Scott Gesty (Libertarian) and Bernie August (Green) for US House.

Your thoughts?