To the Editor:
Among other things, Tuesday night's gubernatorial debate displayed one of the various limitations imposed on our democracy. CBS, the host of the debate - and frequent contributor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign -- arbitrarily excluded Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Larry Sharpe and independent Stephanie Miner from participating in the event. Now, one might argue that these candidates don't have a shot at winning, so what does it matter that they were excluded? Well, for one thing, despite polling higher than the other candidates, due largely to simply being a major party candidate, Republican Marc Molinaro's chances of winning are almost as slim as those of the other candidates. (The website fivethirtyeight.com's best projection for him is a 0.4 percent chance.) If he's going to be allowed to debate, why not the other three?
More to the point, an open debate would have been helpful in both reflecting and shaping public opinion going forward. Had Hawkins been on the stage, for instance, the debate about which of the two candidates was the bigger supporter of charter schools could have been supplemented with a viewpoint that rejects the privatization agenda; Molinaro's mischaracterizations of the New York Health Act proposal would not have gone unchallenged; and a more productive conversation about ending the failed war on drugs could have happened.
Additionally, when we hear as much as we do about the role a strong military plays in protecting democracy, it doesn't look very good when two former Marines (Sharpe and Hawkins) aren't allowed to debate. New Yorkers deserved better.