I’m far from a Libertarian, but this is not cool. A federal judge denied Kentucky Senate candidate David Patterson’s request to be included in Monday night’s debate between Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“Level of support” is a viable reason to refuse to include a candidate in a debate, while political views are not. And this makes sense in order to keep a variety of people from basically trolling a political debate. It is necessary to keep the debate down to a certain level of candidates who are viable contenders.
But the question can be asked, is this process serving voters overall? When we exclude candidates based on their lack of support, is this an equivalency of a financial requirement. This is the question raised by the Kentucky Libertarian Party. The Courier Journal reported:
Libertarian Party of Kentucky chairman Ken Moellman said he was not happy with the decision but said the state party does not have enough money to appeal the ruling. Patterson, in a news release, criticized KET for requiring candidates raise a minimum of $100,000 to appear in the debate.
“That means you must be rich or have rich friends to even stand a chance,” Patterson said. “Kentuckians now have their hard-earned tax dollars being used to deprive them of knowing their options when they walk into the ballot box.”
Van Tatenhove said the legitimacy of the $100,000 threshold “is not presently at issue.” But he did note in a footnote that former Kentucky Congressman William Natcher, who died in 1994 and served 44 years in Congress, refused to accept campaign donations, thus making him ineligible to appear on Kentucky Tonight based on the current criteria.
At issue for all voters of any ideology is what we miss when we only get to hear the voices of those with broad financial support broadcasted. Where are the vigorous debates of ideas that our country was built upon? Yes, it behooves us to keep out trolls and nutters, but why do we so rarely hear from the Green Party? The Libertarians get more press because they have a louder voice in elected office and within the Republican Party post Tea Party/Libertarian fusion takeover. But again, that only goes to party condoned Libertarians.
It is ironic that Patterson argued he was being discriminated against, and sought legal remedy to force a public institution (Kentucky Educational Television is a public institution) to stop discriminating against him, as Libertarians usually respond to issues of discrimination with cries of free markets and totally decry public institutions at all. But he did, and as a liberal, I have to say he might have a point:
U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled that Kentucky Educational Television did not exclude David Patterson from the debate solely because of his political views. Patterson argued KET had discriminated against him based on thousands of pages of emails where KET officials discussed tightening the criteria to participate in the debate so as to exclude non-serious candidates.
It is Patterson who says our government needs to stop legislating morality, after all. But now he wants to impose a moral fairness regarding political views no matter how extreme. I’m with him, but I’m just pointing out that this is actually an argument that kills the Libertarian argument against forcing stores to serve African Americans, for example (something Libertarian Sen Rand Paul is against because he opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, though he acknowledges that it’s okay for public institutions to operate under the scope of government). It’s even more ironic that Patterson would have a better chance of success with his argument with public television than he would with a major network, where Libertarian values like the free market would render him a bad investment with too little demand to justify air time.
Our political process does become stifled and bought when only those who can get the backing of big money can be heard. That automatically forces candidates to the right in terms of being big business puppets, and edges out Libertarians who might actually walk their talk and thus cut off subsidies to Big Oil.
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