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“There is nothing I dread so much as the division of the Republic into two great parties, each under its leader,” said John Adams, one of the framers of the Constitution.

Those who watched the three presidential debates had every right to believe the exercise was a real airing of views. To the contrary, the debates were organized by a very partisan group, not as interested in the voters being informed, as in the two-party system continuing to be secured.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is the host of the debates. The CPD is a nonprofit organization that secretly awards control of the presidential debates to the Republican and Democratic candidates only. Its purpose is to perpetuate domination of the two-party system (The very thing President Adams feared!).

The co-chairmen of CPD are Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. and Paul G. Kirk Jr., former heads of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee, respectively.

Paul Kirk is quoted as saying, “As a party chairman, it’s my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system.”

That has a nice ring to it, until you realize that such an agenda deprives independent or third-party candidates from participating. A powerful two-party system has evolved that excludes all others. So far this year neither Bush nor Kerry have voiced concerns even close to those of third-party candidate Ralph Nader.

Nader and lesser-known candidates are not afraid to point out problems that need attention. Had Ross Perot not been so strong on budgets and getting the country out of debt, the Clinton White House might not have had the good financial years of the 1990s. Neither Clinton nor Bush 1 were thinking that way. It took the insight of a third-party candidate to wake them up.

The CPD arranges the debates with the handlers of the Democratic and Republican candidates. This way there are no hardball questions, there are no serious follow-up questions and no idea what the two men actually plan to do if elected.

“I have a plan,” so said the men in these recent debates. Great. What is it in plain English? Bring home the kids in Iraq and the other 725 overseas bases and pave our roads and repair our bridges.

Another bad part about these debates is how they are financed. They are primarily funded through corporate contributions. Big business gives to both sides so there can be no way they lose. Alan Simpson is on the CPD board and he argues that independent and third-party candidates should “not be included in the debates because it’s obvious that independent candidates mess things up.”

The CPD argue that third-party candidates do not have a realistic chance to win. This is often true because they keep third-party candidates out of the debates. They are unknowns, but they represent democracy at the grass roots level. In 1992 when Ross Perot got into the debate his status climbed from 7 percent before the debates to 19 percent approval on Election Day.

Much of this column insight comes from George Farah’s book No Debate, How The Republican And Democratic Parties Secretly Control The Presidential Debates. Farah is founder and director of Open Debates, a nonprofit group dedicated to reforming the presidential debate process.

Check out Farah’s Web site for more of his well-researched facts.

Paul M. Weyrich, Heritage Foundation cofounder, said of this book: “No Debate exposes just how far the Republicans and Democrats have sold out the American people in suppressing vital issues that need to be examined by the discerning voter. It is shocking, but maybe this book will shock citizens into action.”

John B. Anderson, third-party candidate in 1980, has concluded, “The two parties had stolen the democratic process from the American people, and nobody much cared.”

Possibly in our lifetime we will have all the issues with more openness and transparency. Then voters can make informed decisions. It will not come easily, but Congress needs to take action before the 2008 election.

Britt Towery is former Southern Baptist liaison to the China Christian Council. He now directs the Tao Foundation. He is a member of First Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas. His column appears weekly in the Brownwood Bulletin. A book of his past columns is available on Towery’s Web site.

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