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A project of Our America Initiative

With the help of concerned individuals like yourself, which is a DBA of Our America Initiative although not a plaintiff, is proud to help finance the lawsuits and advocacy activities to change the Presidential debates through its fundraising efforts and to support the plaintiffs and their lawyers in other ways.

FairDebates is a DBA of Our America Initiative which is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy committee that may receive unlimited donations from both individual and corporate donors. Contributions and gifts to FairDebates are not deductible for Federal income tax purposes. FairDebates, although not a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates, is proud to help finance the lawsuit through its fundraising efforts and to support the plaintiffs and their lawyers in other ways.

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When do we say​ ENOUGH?!

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A 2014 Gallup revealed that Americans are fed up with the two major parties.  Imagine if Americans got a chance to hear from all the electable candidates.

Yet, both Johnson & Stein were excluded from the "official" televised presidential debates.

They were the only two candidates other than the Democrat and Republican who appeared on enough state ballots to get elected as the President of the United States. ​

"A majority of U.S. adults, 58%, say a third U.S. political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties 'do such a poor job' representing the American people." 
​ - Jeffrey M. Jones

The CPD lost three sponsors in 2012 due to their bipartisan-exclusive-to-democrats-and-republicans- political-theater. ​
The bipartisan commission conveniently ignored the surveys  revealing that more than 60% of Americans wanted Ross Perot to participate in the 1996 Presidential Debates. 
​The official-sounding and acting Commission on Presidential Debates is, in reality, a private organization created by the Republican and Democratic parties and funded by special interests whose goal is to protect the status quo. Thus, it is no surprise that the Debate Commission has adopted “rules” that make it virtually impossible for an independent or third-party candidate to ever participate in the ​all-important Presidential debates.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has a rule that candidates must average 15% in popular polls...the catch is that those polls don't have to include ALL the candidates' names.  

Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were omitted from over 90% of the popular polls, even ones used to determine inclusion in the 2012 Presidential Debates.

Governor Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein both obtained their ballot access the hard way - collecting petitions in states across the country and satisfying different rules for each state 

TWO electable candidates were excluded from the 2012 Debates ... because they didn't score well in polls that OMITTED their names.

The BI-PARTISAN commission and its advisory committee voted unanimously to exclude Perot.  

They had decided that only a Republican or Democrat could win the election.

"Our decision ...was made on the basis that only President Clinton and Senator Dole have a realistic chance, as set forth in our criteria, to be elected the next president of the United States."

- Paul Kirk, co-chairman of the commission

In welcome news for GOP nominee Bob Dole, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to exclude Reform Party candidate Ross Perot from this fall's series of presidential debates.

September 17, 1996

Debate Commission Excludes Perot

The League of Women Voters is announcing today that we have no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public. Under these circumstances, the League is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October (1988) in Los Angeles.

Between themselves, the campaigns had determined what the television cameras could take pictures of. They had determined how they would select those who would pose questions to their candidates. They had determined that the press would be relegated to the last two rows of the hall. They had determined that they would pack the hall with their supporters. And they had determined the format. The campaigns' agreement was a closed-door masterpiece.

Since their press conference that day, the League has argued that an organization set up by the political parties is not an appropriate sponsor of presidential debates. Obviously, the political parties have a huge stake in the outcome of debates and elections. And obviously, a political party will not be party to an event that puts its titular head at risk.  Under partisan sponsorship debates will become just another risk-free stop along the campaign trail.

In early 1987 -- our site selection process and other planning already under way -- the chairmen of the two political parties announced plans to sponsor their own series of debates. They had set up a commission, they said, and they thanked the League for all we had done and urged us to step aside.

1980 and 1984 were election years when television's potential as a campaign tool was fully realized. In both elections, the League stayed in the game, and we got the presidential candidates to agree to debate. The League is proud that we were able to bring Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, John Anderson, Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Robert Dole, George Bush and Geraldine Ferraro before the voters in debates that proved informative even as campaigns were proving more and more image-driven and scripted.

Excerpts from Nancy Neuman's historical statement regarding the League of Women Voters' withdrawal from the debates:

October 03, 1988

Nancy Neuman takes questions from the press after announcing the League of Women Voters' withdrawal as the sponsor of the 1988 presidential debates. 

Credit: Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution

What happened to the REAL Presidential Debates?

A short history lesson