Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested outside of the second debate Tuesday, October 16 after attempting to enter the debate hall at Hofstra University, but were turned away due to lack of credentials. Stein, who is running on the Green Party ticket, will be included in 85% of the ballots this year and believes this entails her to an equal voice among her more well-funded colleagues.
After calling the debate a “mockery of democracy,” and stating they were there to “bring the courage of those excluded from our politics,” Stein and Honkala sat down in the street and refused to move until the officers blocking her entrance allowed her access to the debate. After being told she was blocking traffic, she told officers she did not want to create a disturbance but merely wanted, “to practice our first amendment rights.” Shortly thereafter Stein and Honkala were removed from the premises and charged disorderly conduct. Stein however, was prepared for this and told reporters, “the CPD has tried to silence us and the millions of Americans we represent, but today we will not be silenced.”
The CPD is the Commission on Presidential Debates and it seems they have a long history of silencing opponents. Formed in 1987 by the Democratic and Republican parties as a way to establish the way the presidential debates are held, the CPD has held secret meetings to create “memorandums of understanding,” that decide who can participate in the debate and how the questions are moderated. In 1988 the League of Women Voters withdrew support for the CPD claiming, “the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter.” This tendency to collusion was made obvious at the press conference announcing the commissions creation, when then Democratic national chairman, Paul G. Kirk, expressed his opinion that third-party candidates should be excluded from the debates.
Jill Stein is not a new face to those disillusioned with party politics. Her “Green New Deal” promises to end drone strikes, a better regulation of Wall Street, and the cessation of all foreign occupations. The blatant disregard shown to her by most major media outlets only serves to increase her popularity among those who believe politics to be a tightly controlled old boys club.
I applaud Jill Stein’s example of civil disobedience. In a country whose rallying cry is democracy the desires of the people are too often swept under the rug. If she has the potential for a significant portion of the votes this November, what’s the harm in letting her opinion reach a larger audience? I say, let them debate!