September 15, 2015Dr. Jill Stein, who is seeking the Green Party nomination for President, announced today the launch of a petition for meaningful, inclusive presidential debates in the 2016 general election. Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested, handcuffed, and chained to metal chairs for 7 hours at an undisclosed detention facility in 2012 for attempting to enter the Hofstra University campus in order to listen a Presidential debate from which she had been excluded. Stein commented, “People have had enough of the mockery of democracy we’ve come to expect from the Presidential debates. By restricting these critical encounters to the Democratic and Republican nominees, the Commission on Presidential debates excludes the views of 50% of Americans, who do not identify as Republican or Democrat.” According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in July of 2015, 29% of voters identify as Democrats, 21% as Republicans. “Restricting debates to the political establishment ensures that the corporate sponsors of both parties – big finance, fossil fuels, insurance, big pharma and war profiteers – will be the real winners of these contests.” While the Democratic and Republican candidates can be expected to differ on hot button social issues, they have been aligned for decades in their support for Wall Street banks, austerity, the destruction of social safety nets, war, corporate trade agreements, tax favors for the wealthy, inadequate action on climate change, abusive student loans, high stakes testing, school privatization and union busting. Stein noted, “The American people deserve to hear about real solutions from candidates and parties that are not bought and paid for by the economic elite – solutions like Medicare for All providing health care for everyone as a human right; abolishing student debt and making public higher education free; enacting a Green New Deal to put everyone back to work greening the economy, turning the tide on climate change, and making wars for oil obsolete; creating a welcoming path to citizenship; and ending police violence, the racist war on drugs, and mass incarceration.” Stein and Honkala are plaintiffs, along with the Green Party, in a soon to be announced law suit against the Commission on Presidential Debates. The petition, which is also supported by the Green Party and other organizations, can be signed at is reprinted below. BACKGROUND: OPEN THE DEBATES TO 3RD PARTY AND INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES! Polls show that 50% of Americans do not identify as either Democrat or Republican. This means that the Presidential debates as currently managed are locking out the diverse voices and views of half of all Americans. The “Commission on Presidential Debates” may sound like an impartial, public body, but it is actually a private organization run by the Democratic and Republican parties. When these two establishment parties took over the debates in 1989, the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship, rightly observing that the “unprecedented control” demanded by the Democrats and Republicans would make the debates “campaign-trail charades” that would “perpetrate fraud on the American voter”. Voters have a right to hear directly from their possible choices for the highest office in the land. These choices should reflect the diversity of American political opinion, and not be restricted to two candidates nominated by establishment parties awash in corporate donations and billionaire support.The need for “more voices and choices” can be met by including all candidates who are on the ballots for a majority of voters, a number that has typically ranged from 4 to 6 candidates in total.The Commission on Presidential Debates says it will make a decision about new debate criteria in October of this year, so speaking out now is critical! Now is the time for the 58% of American people who say we need parties outside the corporate two party system to stand up for our right to open debates.   Sign the petition and show your support for opening up the debates! PETITION TO THE COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATESWe, the undersigned, demand that the Presidential debates include the third party and independent candidates who have qualified for enough state presidential ballots to be a choice for over half of voters.