Baltimore, MD – On October 3, 2012, the first presidential debate will be held in Denver, Colorado and a people’s dialogue will be held at the same time to provide broader perspectives. The live-streamed event (details below) will provide an opportunity for the public to discuss how to solve the pressing challenges of the nation.
The presidential debate is being produced, as it has since the mid-1980’s, by the corporate and partisan Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) and only the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates will be permitted to debate. George Farah, Executive Director of Open Debates which joined 17 good governance groups in calling for release of the debate contract, said, “The Commission on Presidential Debates undermines our democracy. Because of the Commission’s subservience to the Republican and Democratic campaigns, the presidential debates are structured to accommodate the wishes of risk-averse candidates, not voters.”
Occupy the Debates is concerned about the anti-democratic restrictive nature of the debates and about the lack of connection between what will be discussed in the debates and what the people actually care about. “Most people who watch the highly-scripted debates will believe that they are seeing two sides of a debate when in fact the corporate-party candidates mostly agree within a narrow spectrum on each issue. The views of other viable candidates and the concerns of the people will be excluded,” says Dr. Margaret Flowers, co-director of It’s Our Economy, who helped to organize Occupy the Debates.
To bring the people’s voices to the forefront, Occupy the Debates worked with Occupy Denver and other local advocacy groups to canvas the community and determine their top concerns. This past weekend, public events were held in Denver to bring people together to discuss these top issues, which were corporate influence over politics, education and student debt, the environment and climate change and health care.
“We found that the discussion in the community is very different from what is being said in the campaigns,” said Kevin Zeese, also co-director of It’s Our Economy, “People at the Occupy the Debates events developed solutions to key problems facing the country. It was evident to everyone in the room that none of these solutions will be discussed by either Obama or Romney. The duopoly politicians are out of touch with the people.”
On the night of the first debate, Occupy the Debates will bring together a diverse group of people who are in touch with what is happening in the communities and who have perspectives different from what will be said in the debate and among the commentators on corporate TV.
This alternative debate coverage program will be live-streamed on UStream (http://www.ustream.tv/itsoureconomy) and Global
Revolution (http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution). It. It will begin at 8:30 pm eastern with pre-debate commentary and will be moderated by Lisa Simeone (bio below). During the debate, the panelists will comment on what is said and will respond to comments and questions from the audience through social media such as twitter and online chat. After the debate, the panelists will break down what was said and how that compares to the candidates’ records and will explore what was omitted.
Occupy the Debates is partnering with Its Our Economy and U Stream TV for this dialogue. U Stream TV has 57 million unique hits each month and 1.4 million twitter followers. The debate will appear on the U Stream channel: Economic Democracy Media, Its Our Economy.US.
Only two candidates are allowed to participate in debates organized by the National Corporation on Presidential Debates (they call themselves a commission, but that is just to disguise the fact that they are a private corporation created by the Democrats and Republicans and funded by big business interests). Two other candidates, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, are on enough ballots to receive 270 Electoral College votes, but the Debate Corporation has created barriers to their participation.
Jill P. Carter represents Maryland’s 41st legislative district of Baltimore City in the Maryland House of Delegates. She was elected to the Maryland legislature after defeating four incumbents in the Democratic primary that September. She is currently a member of the House Judiciary Committee and chair of the Estates and Trusts Subcommittee. She was the third African-American female attorney elected to the Maryland Legislature and has served from 2003 to the present. She has received the largest vote total of any member of the House of Delegates in the last two elections. Carter is the daughter of the late Walter P. Carter, who was a civil rights activist and leader in the desegregation movement in Maryland in the 1950s and 1960s. Carter received her B.A. in English from Loyola College in Maryland in 1988, and her J.D. from the University of Baltimore, School of Law in 1992. Prior to law school, Carter was a journalist for Afro American Newspapers. She served as the Executive Director of the Maryland Minority Business Association in 2002, chair of the Baltimore Branch NAACP Legal Redress Committee, and was listed in Maryland’s Top 100 Women in the Daily Record in 2006. In 2009, she was the honored as an “Exceptional Woman in Business and Government,” at the first annual “Pretty in Pinstripes” Women’s History Month celebration.
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Ph.D. is an EPA whistleblower who served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of the Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo won an historic lawsuit against the EPA in 2000 on the basis of race, sex, color discrimination, and a hostile work environment. She led a successful effort for passage of the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act [No FEAR] — the first civil rights law of this century. Thousands of federal workers and their families have directly benefited from this law which allows federal employees to raise red flags when they see misconduct. She is the founder of the No FEAR Institute, devoted to educating the American public about federal sector discrimination and the implementation of the No FEAR Act. She also founded the No FEAR Coalition, a grouping of civil rights and whistle blower organizations that fight for increased legislative protections for federal employees. She is the author of No Fear: A Whistleblowers Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA published in 2012. She organized the Occupation of the EPA which protested corporate domination of environmental policies. She has held various academic positions as Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University – School of Foreign Studies and Visiting Scholar in the Department of African-American Studies at George Mason University. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo received her BA degree from Barnard College/Columbia University and her doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Sergio Espana is from Baltimore, MD. He spent the first 15 years of his life in Los Angeles and Guatemala. He studied philosophy and sociology and was an active student organizer at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he graduated in 2008. He has been involved in the Student Farmworker Alliance since then, now serving on the steering committee. He is also a co-founder and serves on the board of the Civilian Soldier Alliance where he works alongside veterans and military family members nationwide. He worked with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida and United Workers in Maryland, both are nonunion worker’s organizations. He is a small business owner and writer for the Indypendent Reader. He currently works as the organizer for the Maryland Health Care is a Human Right campaign. The inspiration for his work came directly from the transformative organizing model he learned from organizations such as the CIW, Student Farmworker Alliance, and United Workers.
Glen Ford is executive editor of Black Agenda Report. He has had a long career as a radio host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America’s Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.
Margaret Flowers, MD, co-director of Its Our Economy and an organizer of Occupy Washington, DC/October2011. She is a Maryland pediatrician who graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1990 and completion of pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Flowers worked first as a hospitalist and then in private practice. She left practice in 2007 to advocate full-time for a single payer health care system at both the state and national levels. Flowers served as Congressional Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program during the 2009-2010 national health reform process. She organized briefings, lobby days and testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in June, 2009 and before the National Commission for Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in June, 2010. She was co-founder of the Mobilization for Health Care Reform. She is currently a spokesperson for PNHP and is on the board of Healthcare-Now.
Lisa Simeone (moderator) is a freelance writer and radio host. She hosts World of Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Series, and is an editor and contributing writer for Style Magazine. Simeone hosted the public radio documentary series Soundprint until she was fired from the show in 2011 because of her involvement in Occupy Washington, DC/October2011. Also because of her political activism, NPR stopped distributing World of Opera. WDAV in North Carolina, which produces the show, immediately began distributing the program itself. Simeone has hosted All Things Considered, Performance Today, Weekend Edition Sunday, and The Metropolitan Opera, and has written for City Paper, Urbanite, and the Baltimore Sun. She also writes for and edits the civil liberties watchdog site TSA News.
Kevin Zeese is co-director of Its Our Economy and an organizer of Occupy Washington, DC/October2011. He is an attorney who has been a political activist since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980. He works on peace, economic justice, criminal law reform and reviving American democracy. He advocates for democratizing the economy as co-director of It’s Our Economy and works to oppose to war and shrink the military budget through Come Home America. Zeese serves on the steering committees of the Bradley Manning Support Network which advocates for alleged whistle-blower, Bradley Manning. Zeese served as press secretary and spokesperson in the 2004 Nader for president campaign. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and was the only person ever nominated by the Green Party, Libertarian Party and Populist Party. His recent election integrity work has included challenging the activities of the national Chamber of Commerce through StopTheChamber.org, as well as the activities of Karl Rove’s Americans Crossroads as part of AmericanCrossroadsWatch.org and seeking to overturn the Citizen’s United decision, including filing complaints against Justice Clarence Thomas, as part of ProtectOurElections.org. Zeese has also led the effort to prosecute Rupert Murdoch of NewsCorp for hacking into private phones and bribing officials. Zeese serves as president of Common Sense for Drug Policy. He is a co-founder of Voters for Peace, Prosperity Agenda, True Vote and the Drug Policy Foundation, now known as Drug Policy Alliance