Freedom Impinged Upon as Libertarian Candidate Is Excluded from Kentucky Debate

David Patterson campaign
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.

Join PoliticusUSA writers for our live chat during the Kentucky Senate debate Monday evening.

8 Replies to “Freedom Impinged Upon as Libertarian Candidate Is Excluded from Kentucky Debate”

  1. I never heard of him before now. I doubt he is going to win, but maybe he should have been allowed to voice his views. This is an example of why we need campaign finance reform. Seriously, $100,000 to appear on TV? That is extortion. If you want to debate, pay $100,000, or else.
    This debate should be interesting. I plan on watchinh it. So far, from what Has been written on the blogs, not one GOP candidate/incumbents has done well. Alison had better not disappoint.

  2. I see the irony in his argument. I also see my local public television being taken over with hour long infomercials and other things to sell books and more. So, I am concerned about the abuse of PBS. Then again, did anyone here see the horrible ‘debate’ here in Idaho a few months back? (That’s probably what has KET scared).

  3. The typical libertarian has always amazed me with their ignorant, simplistic, selfish views on economic policy but ALWAYS align themselves with the GOP!! when are libertarian finally going to realize that the GOP just uses them for votes???

  4. KY libertarians found via a Open Records Request that this debate was gerrymandered by KET to intentionally exclude 3rd party/independent candidates. Independent Ed Marksberry dropped out shortly after the primaries, David Patterson legitimately obtained ballot access despite the politically bias petitioning process for non establishment candidates but was still excluded from this public contest because his campaign hasn’t raised enough money, I think his quote was very apt in that regard. Also, LPKY identifies more with old school southern democratic values than the GOP & are frequently at odds with KY tea party factions on hosts of issues even though there is some overlap on a few issues. Last but not least Senator Rand Paul is not a libertarian, his staff is actually fairly hostile to real libertarians

  5. That’s too bad. I had a blast watching the libertarian candidate here get into (the extremely poorly covered, internet only) last senate debate. But it seems a common theme. I’m sure when all Rove’s candidates get slaughtered it’ll be because of an evil libertarian conspiracy.

  6. He isn’t the only one being pushed out of debates, Adrian Wyllie, Libertarian candidate for governor in Florida is getting the same response.

  7. Thanks for the comment.

    Politically, Libertarians have led the world campaign against one-and two-party rule imposed by legislation. Liberals have to speak up against these burdensome rules.

    For what L/libertarians are doing worldwide see the mother Libertarian International Organization at

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