Editor Lane Filler writes for NewsDay,
We are a two-party system — not by law, but because the Democrats and the Republicans have seized the mechanisms of government. They use their control to maintain power, and other parties can’t compete. This causes a bunch of self-perpetuating, corrosive behaviors, like government-funded primaries for these major parties, which are really nothing but private organizations. Withholding the money for a Republican primary out of a libertarian’s paycheck makes as much sense as taxing Jews to pay for KKK dance parties (now that’s an idea for a reality show).
Another, more pressing way the Republicans and Democrats control the process came about in the late 1980s when the two major parties created the “nonpartisan” Commission on Presidential Debates, and crowded out the League of Women Voters, which had run the general election debates up until then.
In 1988, the League withdrew, saying in a statement that “the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter.” The League was right. The debates have largely been unfair and prepackaged since then, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is currently run by a former head of the Republican National Committee and a former White House press secretary (under Bill Clinton). And no one from any other party need apply. . . .
In a phone interview, Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who’s heading the Libertarian Partyticket, told a miserable tale. He tried to run for president as a Republican this time, and was barred from most of the debates, even though, he says, he had the 4 percent support in a national poll needed to qualify
“How would you feel about that,” he asked, a bit plaintively. “What if it were you?”
Then he accepted the Libertarian Party nomination, and he can’t get a lectern in the three general election debates, where the requirement is 15 percent support in a major poll. He’s suing the Commission on Presidential Debates, but is unlikely to win in court. Regardless, he believes he’s polling at 6 percent nationally — and higher in many states — and what he draws could decide the race in a few of them, Ralph Nader-2000 style.