By Peter Ackerman and Douglas Shoen | October 4, 2020
After the first presidential debate, there was one conclusion that almost everyone came to, which is that it was the worst debate in modern history. After a disastrous debate and in the midst of a heated partisan campaign, a critical issue arises. What can we do to change this?
From our view, the answer lies with opening up the process to unaffiliated participants. Does anyone believe such raucousness would exist if a third party candidate was there? Just look at the 1992 debates between George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot. We need to reform our voting system to make a level playing field for unaffiliated voters. Indeed, nearly 70 percent of all Americans along with about 80 percent of Americans under the age of 40 want unaffiliated candidates elected to office.
Our current system of “first past the post” voting allows two parties to dominate our elections by denoting unaffiliated candidates who run as spoilers. This hurts our democracy by shutting out independents. It has corrupted debates as it gives the two major parties absolute power. The two major parties can block third party candidates from participating by creating rules for entry that only their candidates can meet, like the rule that candidates must each have at least 15 percent support in national polls in September of a presidential election year.