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No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates Paperback – April 6, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

For pure political drama at the height of election season, there's nothing quite like a televised presidential debate. Though the candidates are stringently prepped before entering the event, surprises and raw candor often slip through as voters get their best opportunity to make direct comparisons. But according to author George Farah, Americans are not getting all the drama they're entitled to. Through the combined efforts of the Democratic and Republican establishments, legitimate third-party candidates are denied an arena to present their views, usually based on the notion that they are not viable contenders. This leads to a tautological situation: they can't debate because they aren't viable and they aren't viable because they're not allowed to debate. In No Debate, Farah provides extensive background on how the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), dominated by Democratic and Republican party operatives, took over the debate process from more non-partisan groups and then entrenched their parties in power. Farah also provides illuminating insight on how, despite such collusion, the major parties continued to joust for power, telling of when the Clinton campaign feigned a desire to include Ross Perot the 1996 debates and agreed to drop the demand only when the hapless Dole camp caved in on all other issues. All of these backroom deals and shenanigans undermine democracy itself, according to Farah, as the electorate is denied access to ideas outside the self-perpetuating dominant parties and is thus disenfranchised from open democracy. To remedy the problem, Farah also proposes to return power of the debates to a non-partisan panel of citizen experts. The magnitude of the entrenchment problem Farah describes bodes ill for the implementation of his proposals, but No Debate is sure to make one watch more skeptically the next time presidential hopefuls approach the podium. --John Moe

From the Publisher

No Debate exposes just how far the Republicans and Democrats have sold out the American people in suppressing vital issues that need to be examined by the discerning voter. It is shocking, but maybe this book will shock citizens into action. PAUL M. WEYRICH, Heritage Foundation cofounder

George Farah argues persuasively that the presidential debates are organized almost entirely to serve the interests of the two major-party nominees and not the public interest. If you want a behind-the-scenes look at candidate negotiations, backstage maneuvering, and the machinations involved in dealing with major third-party candidates, No Debate is the book for you. NANCY M. NEUMAN, former president of the League of Women Voters

No Debate exposes how behind-the-scenes wheelin’ and dealin’ inside the Beltway wrecks our most valuable political forums—the presidential debates— turning them into cures for insomnia that prevent the American people from hearing about issues they want to hear about. JIM HIGHTOWER

At last, a full-scale, documented report on how the Commission on Presidential Debates rigs the process to prevent the public from hearing independent voices not connected with the Republican and Democratic parties. NAT HENTOFF

George Farah examines one of the biggest blasts of arrogance in the history of the United States—the collusion between the Republicans and Democrats to manipulate the public by manipulating the presidential debates. Every American citizen, regardless of party affiliation, should rise up against this un-American strategy. It's not just the White House that’s at stake, but democracy itself. Read this book, get angry, and rise up. PHIL DONAHUE

Presidential debates are both a public function and an essential part of the electoral process. That process is now broken because of exclusionary rules dictated by private interests and narrow partisanship. George Farah has carefully researched and documented that charge. His prescription for reform would honor the principle of public interest and accountability by establishing a system which would provide fair and open debates. JOHN B. ANDERSON, former presidential candidate


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; New title edition (April 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583226303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583226308
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,630,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jay on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
George Farah writes about the current organization that orchestrates the Presidential debates, including its history and the details of how it operates. According to Farah, the Commission on Presidential Debates is not the nonpartisan organization it claims to be, but instead is a bipartisan, corporate sponsored front for the Republican and Democratic parties controlled by the campaigns of the Republican and Democratic nominees. The author points out in great detail the hypocrisies, lies, and manipulations the two parties, the Commission members, and the campaigns engage in to maintain the domination of the two major parties in the debates. He concludes his book by presenting the formation of the Citizens' Debate Commission and the principles under which this new Commission would operate. To those who are interested in how our political system operates and how we might improve it, this book not only offers insight, it offers an alternative to the current system which is a blight on a free and democratic society. The book includes two appendices. The first is a document from the 1996 presidential campaign entitled 'Memorandum of Understanding' which is the agreement reached between the Clinton and Dole campaigns as to all the particulars of how the debate will be conducted. These memorandums are rubber stamped by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The second appendix is a press release from the Democratic and Republican parties indicating the formation of the Commission on Presidential Debates. This document is replete with a lot of civic high mindedness for the formation of this organization which in reality serves the two major parties and not the interests of the American electorate.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a must read for anyone who has found American politics to be oddly and uncomfortably narrow. Have you ever wondered why you don't get to see some of the candidates you want see, like Perot, Nader, and Buchanan? Have you ever wondered why you don't hear about some critical issues, like free trade, government waste, immigration, child poverty, and media concentration? Have you ever wondered why you only hear a series of boring, memorized soundbites, rather than actual discussion between the candidates? In this book, No Debate, George Farah shows just how the Republican and Democratic candidates secretly collude to control, manipulate, and ultimately ruin the most important public forum for the education of the American people - the presidential debates. The presidential debates are the gatekeeper to the election, and when you keep candidates and issues out of the debates, you keep them out of American politics. Farah's book is a truly fascinating exposé of the major party candidates' behind-the-scenes manipulation of the debates, replete with stunning quotes and entertaining anecdotes. Did you know that Perot was included in the 1992 presidential debates because President Bush - who ultimately blamed Perot for costing him the election -- demanded that Perot be included? The book reads with remarkable clarity and refreshing speed, and ends with a proposal for reform that is, in fact, being pushed by leading conservative, liberal, and centrist civic leaders. If you care about democracy and you're tired of being deceived, No Debate is a must read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Pearse O'Sullivan on September 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
Remember that totally boring debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000? Why so much agreeing with each other, why was there no REAL debate going on? Well this book takes that issue head on, and it's about time someone did. These debates are shown for what they truly are, which is orchestrated soundbites. The two party duopoly has monopilized this venue so that other parties/issues cannot invade their control of the subjects and issues of the election.

Mark my words: if this control of the debate continues than less and less voters will show up to the booths. And also, if John Kerry is stupid enough to agree to a protocol for the debate as was done in debates past, he will certainly lose the election because you have to catch George W. Bush off gaurd to see what he's really made of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Haak on November 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
My review is written 7 years after the first one appeared here, so I'll avoid repeating what's already been said. The strength of this book is its streamlined presentation that makes a succinct case without a gram of overkill. His position is unassailable, because it rests on the wide array of statements made by the debate overseers themselves, to the effect that they want the two-party system to sweep all before it, with no wild cards allowed to inject spontaniety or nudge debate into a non-establishment direction. Over the decades, this has resulted in an ever-narrowing range of issues that see the light of day, and even upon these few issues there is more and more agreement between the two parties, so that the "debates" are largely beauty contests. Real issues are put on the shelf and not discussed. Examples aplenty abound in the book.

The committee organizing the events meets in advance with media specialists from the two major parties, with the latter specifying the ground rules that will foreclose anything unexpected. The organizing committee is their hostage and plays ball. They all know the result will further entrench the two- party system and this is what they are all drawing the wagons around. Again, documentation is perfect and examples abound.

All the standard arguments supporting the way things are run, in the organizers' own words, are examined and rebutted with documentation.

It's clear the present debate system is to keep the entrance gates narrow and big-wig approved. The Russ Perot campaign efforts and their (rare!) entry into the debates are thoughtfully examined and lessons drawn.

This is one link in the chain of governments becoming more anonymous in their operations, more elite-managed and citizen imput kept within patrolled boundaries. The "debates" support the trend, while keeping alive the folklore of participatory democracy.
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