Precinct 333

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Libertarians Seek To Stop Non-Inclusive Debate

Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik is on the ballot in 48 states and the District of Columbia, and failed to make the cut in New Hampshire and Oklahoma only because of technical errors in submitting petitions, not a failure to obtain sufficient signatures. Despite the fact that this places him on more than enough ballots to potentially win the electoral college, Badnarik is not included in the presidential debates because the Commission on Presidential Debates requires that included candidates have 15% support in polls by five different polling groups.

So the Arizona Libertarian Party has taken action. Arguing that the requirements make the debates nothing more than a contribution to the two major parties, they want the October 13 debate at Arizona State university cancelled, and have filed suit in state court to make sure that happens.
Party Treasurer Warren Severin said Thursday that the cost of the debate - estimated at more than $2 million - amounts to an unconstitutional gift of taxpayer funds for the two major parties. Severin, one of the plaintiffs in the legal action, wants a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to block the use of any public funds, a move designed to kill the event.

ASU publicist Carolyne Kennedy said there are no tax dollars involved. She said the out-of-pocket expenses are going to be borne by local individuals and businesses.

Severin said he's not convinced that ASU has, in fact, received sufficient donations to cover those costs. But even if it has, he said the university continues to devote staff time to putting the Oct. 13 event together.

All-in-all, not an unreasonable position to take. After all, if a candidate is clearly national in the scope of his campaign, why shouldn't he be included in a debate?

Besides, I'd like to see Michael Badnarik up there. I have a certain admiration for the Libertarians, and would love to see them grow as a political national force. They certainly don't fit the stereotype of "all politicians are the same." And since more political speech, debates, and ideas are healthier than fewer, his inclusion (along with nadir) would be a good thing for America.


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