In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Register your discontent with the Register (Des Moines that is)

Rep. Dennis Kucinich at the December 4th NPR debate.

I decided to do this blog because, as I indicate with the name I chose, I feel it is important to understand our options; however, I feel the ability to do so was muddied tonight. This evening, the final Democratic debate was held before the all-important Iowa caucus in January. The Des Moines Register held the debate, and made the decision on who could participate. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, in his sixth term in Congress and second run for the White House, was excluded, along with former Sen. Mike Gravel. The legitimacy (or not) of the exclusion is the question, and apart from your stance on one candidate or another, one party or another, I think it is a sobering reality check to consider that some of the most important exposure for voters (if not the only) , is via the various television debates. There are no one-on-one conversations and handshaking with the candidates for most Americans, and so, apart from the internet, the debates are the closest we will get to those one-on-one conversations, the best sense we may get of their character and commitment, integrity and so forth. Therefore, based on the facts I outline in the below letter I sent to the editors of the Des Moines Register, I find it an encroachment on my right, and the rights of US citizens, to hear and consider the full swath of candidates, for an exclusion to take place on the basis that it did tonight (check here to read an overview that hits some key points from the Kucinich campaign on the exclusion). I would urge, again, no matter your stance or perspective, any who feel the basis of this exclusion inequitable, to write (or call) the editors yourself at:

Carol Hunter - 515-284-8502

Laura Hollingsworth - 515-284-8041

You may also want to consider visiting this site to sign a petition to send a quick (or more detailed if you prefer) note to Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee Chair, and Mike Duncan, Republican National Committee Chair; the petition includes Rep. Ron Paul and former Sen. Mike Gravel in the language. Here is the note I sent to Mr. Dean and Mr. Duncan, which includes the longer letter I sent to the Des Moines Register:

Greetings, Mr. Howard Dean and Mr. Mike Duncan:

I sent the following letter to the Des Moines Register editors, Ms. Carol Hunter and Ms. Laura Hollingsworth. I feel it expresses clearly the issues with Rep. Kucinich's exclusion from the Dec. 13th debate (along with the related issues with previous exclusions of him, along with Rep. Ron Paul and former Sen. Mike Gravel). I hope you both will work to remedy this situation, perhaps by holding another forum prior to the Iowa caucuses, as our democratic process depends on voters hearing the candidates, particularly at such a decisive time when more and more citizens realize the primaries are almost here, and are naturally beginning to pay attention to the process. Here is the aforementioned letter:

Greetings, Ms. Hunter and Ms. Hollingsworth:

I am deeply frustrated that Rep. Dennis Kucinich was excluded from tonight's debate--the last debate before the Iowa caucuses. It is disturbing enough that elections ride so much on money, I cannot believe that this was done. This is untenable at a time when, to name one example of note, on National Public Radio, the Senior White House correspondent for Newsweek pointed out that the Democratic candidates' positions are beginning to drift towards Rep. Kucinich (albeit not in substantive enough ways; ). This is still the only candidate that is proposing a not-for-profit health care system, among other stances which truly require courage to take. The answer should not be to exclude viable stances such as this from the discussion, if at all possible to include.

Further, numerous online polls have shown that Rep. Kucinich has noteworthy support. The ruling suggests that the decision-makers at the Register have lost sight of the fact that this is a national debate, and at a time when over half of the voters in important primary states have still not made up their mind (not to mention the rest of the country). And although he himself admits he is a long shot candidate, the idea of electability is, as Sean Penn pointed out in a recent endorsement of Rep. Kucinich, changing, else the democratic right to choose whom one will vote for is stripped. The American people deserve to hear and consider the voice of this serious, six-term Congressman who has functioned as a clarion voice in an otherwise overly cautious campaign season. I simply feel more equitable rules could have been formed if those in charge had more carefully considered the possible scenarios that could develop. I am less familiar with former Sen. Mike Gravel, however I think he may also have deserved to participate.

I hope a more thorough explanation and engagement with the true concerns of myriad Americans is published and made available to the public via the Register, and in a more thorough fashion than the short explanation currently available on the site ( ). According to the site, "Campaign officials say Kucinich's Iowa office is in donated space at the home of a Dubuque organizer. Register Vice President of Marketing Susan Patterson Plank said the campaign's explanation did not suffice. 'The decision by the Des Moines Register was that they needed to have an office, not in someone's home,' she said." The premise of this rule that requires a definite office in the state of Iowa in order to participate in the debate, is questionable in and of itself, particularly when there are clear campaign strategies that could encourage a candidate to focus more on other states. Furthermore, this rule (number 3 of those posted on your site), says "Candidates must have had a campaign office inside the State of Iowa as of October 1, 2007," yet there is no stipulation of the details on what the office should be. Are there further details on this? If so, they should have been sited and posted on the site, along with the basic set of rules I am referencing. However, given Ms. Patterson Plank's above explanation, it does not appear that the rules did stipulate between offices and home-based offices, as she seems to be stating that "a decision" was made after the issue with Rep. Kucinich's home-based office surfaced. Without clear stipulations beforehand, how should Rep. Kucinich's campaign know what type of office is needed? I respectfully ask for greater explanation, and if this decision proves unjustifiable (as it appears to be), another debate with Rep. Kucinich and perhaps former Sen. Mike Gravel in attendance--prior to the January Iowa caucus.



By the way, as a note to those reading my blog, if you got this far, you should really check out the text at the NPR link above, as it gives a good sense of Rep. Kucinich's place amid the current campaign (along with this bit on the NPR site with a slew of public comments on Kucinich). As I mentioned in the letter to the Register, he is certainly, by his own admission, a long shot candidate, but really speaks of vision and conviction and integrity from where I sit.

Update: I posted this in a section on the Des Moines Register site, where they allow you to start a blog. Check it out here, as there may or may not be some interesting comments that come around; and check here and here for their two (unsatisfactorily short) pieces on Kucinich's exclusion, as there are myriad comments, many of which are just various people who come across as sincerely bothered by this.

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