In Multipolarity

By Lauren Gambino and Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian, Sept 21, 2016

Dr. Jill Stein (MediaPunch-Rex-Shutterstock)

Dr. Jill Stein (MediaPunch-Rex-Shutterstock)

The Green party may try to “escort” candidate Jill Stein into the presidential debates in an attempt to get her onstage, a campaign adviser announced on Wednesday.

Kevin Zeese told the Guardian that Stein, her vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka and 100 of her supporters were willing to risk arrest at the debates, the first of which will be held at New York’s Hofstra University on Monday. “About 300 people have already signed up to protest, 100 are willing to risk arrest,” Zeese said.

“We hope Jill and Ajamu will not get arrested as we want them to respond in live time to the debate but when you are on the frontlines, things are not always in our control.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday [Sept 16] that the third-party candidates Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson had failed to qualify for the first debate. To earn a spot on the debate stage, the commission requires each candidate meet a 15 per cent support threshold, determined by an average of five pre-selected national polls, and qualify for the ballot in enough states that it would be mathematically possible to receive the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

The commission calculated that Stein had 3.2 per cent support in an average of the five selected polls. Johnson also failed to make the cut, with a polling average of 8.4 per cent.

The last third-party candidate to be admitted to the televised presidential debates was the independent presidential hopeful Ross Perot in 1992. Stein and Johnson could still qualify for the second or third presidential debates in October if they are able to increase their support in the coming weeks.

Stein’s campaign is organizing a protest outside Hofstra University, where the debate between the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, will take place on 26 September. The invitation on Stein’s website also offers participants the opportunity to enroll in a one-day, non-violent civil resistance training ahead of Monday’s protest.

“We expect the protest to be people approaching the barricade, having a confrontation with the police, Jill stepping back and calling for a people’s debate ‘right here and right now’,” Zeese said. He said people willing to risk arrest will then attempt to cross the police barrier “if possible”.

The debate over the debate escalated in recent weeks as it became clear that the two alternative candidates would likely not have a podium on the debate stage, despite the record-low favorability ratings of the major party nominees.

In an op-ed for the Guardian earlier this month, Stein called it “undemocratic” to exclude her and Johnson from the debates. “We can’t have democracy without a free exchange of ideas and an informed public. The presidential debates, watched by roughly 70 million people, are the most important way for voters to get information,” Stein wrote.

This weekend, Johnson expressed disappointment with the decision, but maintained a positive outlook.

“The clock still ticks,” Johnson told CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday. “Getting to 15 per cent and being in the second debate and third debate: my partner, fiancee and best friend, Kate, said, ‘Gary, this is just your luck, you don’t have to hassle with the first debate and you’re still going to get elected president’.”

Related readings:
Green Party’s Jill Stein ramps up criticism of opponents, published on Truthdig, Sept 20, 2016

Open up the debates: Green Party’s Jill Stein accuses Democrats and Republicans of rigging debate rules, interview with Jill Stein, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Aug 18, 2016

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