Democracy Now!

By Ted Glick

Twice over the past two weeks the Green Party of New Jersey and the Glick for Senate Volunteer Alliance have mobilized in support of my participation in televised, U.S. Senate candidate debates. I was excluded from both the September 5th News 12 New Jersey/Newark Star Ledger debate in Edison and the September 12th NJN/N.J. Chamber of Commerce/Philadelphia Inquirer/Gannett News debate in Trenton.

At the first debate on September 5th I was arrested and charged with “criminal trespassing” as I attempted to peacefully enter the studios to urge NJ12 management to allow me to view the debate so that I could then comment afterwards to the press and to anyone else who wished to know my views. Apparently even this compromise of my position that I should be in the debates was viewed as somehow too radical, too dangerous. The question is, dangerous to whom?

Why have one hundred of my volunteers from around the state been to one or both of these debates demanding my inclusion? Why did I get arrested September 5? Why did nine others risk arrest by sitting down in front of the entrance to NJN on September 12th? Why are we filing a lawsuit demanding compensation from publicly-funded NJN for the damage done to our campaign by my exclusion? And why will we continue this battle as long as it takes, including at future debates if I am excluded?

The reason is simple: fairness and democracy. And based upon our interaction with voters over the many months that I have been actively campaigning, we know that many New Jersey voters agree with us.

We are suffering from a severe democracy deficit in this state. One of my main opponents for the U.S. Senate, Doug Forrester, is a multi-millionaire who has personally benefited from the rising cost of prescription drugs. The other, Bob Torricelli, is dependent upon and beholden to millionaires and corporations, on top of his well-known ethical and legal problems. Neither is willing to challenge big money domination of our political and economic system. Indeed, they are part and parcel of the big money problem. And as a result, we will be lucky if 1/3 of the potential electorate comes out to vote this November unless something is done to give people a reason to vote.

Here’s an original idea: what about letting voters know that there are other choices? There are actually six U.S. candidates who are going to be on the ballot on November 5th. Why can’t at least one of the debates include all of them?

Some will say, but how can you have a six-candidate debate? It’s really no big deal. All we have to do is the same thing that the national Republican Party has done in recent Presidential election years when they have had six or seven candidates in televised debates early in the primary election season. If it’s good enough for the national Republican Party it certainly should be good enough for the citizens of New Jersey.

Or have the two dominant parties, the dominant media institutions, and the League of Women Voters become so afraid of alternative voices that they will continue to exclude us?

There were many critical issues that Forrester and Torricelli and the press representatives who questioned them on the 5th and the 12th did not raise, or widely-held positions on the major issues that were not been articulated. If I am in future debates they will be, including: opposition to the reckless plans for war on Iraq; putting out tax dollars into educating our children, not militarism and war; universal health care for all Americans; clean money/publicly-financed elections; energy independence through solar, wind and other renewable sources; and expanding workers’ rights to organize.

Do we still live in a democracy or not?

Ted Glick is the Green Party of New Jersey’s candidate for the U.S. Senate (