Americans deserve better than the status quo presidential debates

Jeff Hewitt headshot portrait wearing dark pinstripe blazer, royal blue shirt, red striped tie, goatee, looking at viewer, mottled grey-blue studio backdrop (color photo)

Jeffrey Hewitt

Libertarian National Committee representative and Riverside County, California Supervisor Jeff Hewitt had the following opinion piece on last week’s presidential debate printed in two of southern California’s largest daily newspapers, the Press-Enterprise and Orange County Register on October 10, 2020:

After finally watching the first presidential debate in its entirety, I came to the conclusion that this country has allowed its political system to devolve into something more farcical than a WWE wrestling match.

Most of the debate reminded me of the movie “Grumpy Old Men.” It was akin to neighbors in a retirement community arguing over the length of grass in the front yard.

How this addresses any real concern of the people who make up the voting public is beyond me.  How we got here a lesson in conflict of interest.

The Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 under the joint sponsorship of the Democratic and Republican parties.

I believe each party would exclude the other if they had not realized early on that “it takes two to tango.”

Having this group dictate the rules for inclusion of any debate is like having the fox guard the hen house. To allow any “third party” to participate in a debate they require that ticket to be polling at least 15 percent in at least 3 of 7 different national polls leading up to the debates. That might not be too biased if it weren’t for the fact that such polls often do not include any third party candidates, and even if Mother Teresa was running she wouldn’t get 15 percent if you had to write in her name.

Remember, our current president was polling very low when he was in his first Republican presidential primary debate and may have gone no further without the exposure the format gave him.

According to a 2018 survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, 61 percent of registered California voters say they want to see a viable third party.

There is now a viable party in our country that received over five million votes in 2016 and was kept out of the presidential debate because of the corrupt rules of exclusion.  Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson was a former two-term governor who would have brought important issues that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump avoided.

This year we have another opportunity for an intelligent candidate who would bring up the relevant issues of our time. If she could make it to the debate stage, more Americans would realize that Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen offers real solutions to the problems plaguing our nation.

Jo Jorgensen would also force a discussion of our runaway federal debt. Jo Jorgensen would force the candidates to finally have an honest discussion about our endless wars abroad. Jo Jorgensen would also be able to explain how the fallout from the catastrophic War on Drugs directly links to national calls for criminal justice and policing reform.

But the dominant parties have all the power to block out other perspectives.

The Libertarian Party has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and put in months of hard work with thousands of volunteers and paid signature gatherers just to get Jo Jorgensen’s name on all 50 state ballots.  The other two parties don’t have to raise a thing to get automatic access.

All we need is to be included in the debate and then America could see how we measure up.  As of Oct. 9 the future debates are “in limbo.”

As an alternative to the two-party-controlled presidential debate system, the Committee for American Debate is planning a debate at the Pritzker Museum and Military Library in Chicago for all three candidates that will appear on all 50 state ballots at the end of the month.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Jo Jorgensen are invited and this might be the last chance each of these candidates have to make their case to the nation.

If you are interested in seeing this become a reality, visit and let us know how you can help. I am a proud Libertarian and an elected county supervisor.  We need other voices now more than ever. If this happens it’s because of you.

Let’s aim higher and open up real debate.