by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast Sept. 3, 2016
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Lola Acanmu: On Tuesday, Sept. 6, Bay Area Green Parties will protest the Commission on Presidential Debates’ youth engagement function at Dominican University in San Rafael. KPFA’s Ann Garrison reports.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: By calling itself the “Commission on Presidential Debates,” the private corporation that controls presidential debates masquerades as a government entity. It is in fact a private, corporate-funded corporation controlled by the Republican and Democratic National Committees.
A federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush recently tossed out a lawsuit brought against the so-called commission for excluding Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. The judge ruled that the commission is a private entity and that only government institutions have First Amendment obligations.
Nevertheless, Dominican University is partnering with the private entity to produce College Debate 16, an event they say will encourage student involvement in the upcoming debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. A promotional YouTube video describes the event:
Promotional video narrator: This spring, students from partner colleges and universities from across the country will be chosen to represent their schools and states. These student delegates will convene at Dominican University of California, a voter education partner of the Commission on Presidential Debates, to organize, collaborate and plan outreach at their schools and virtually to peers near and far. Using social media, the delegates will connect and rally students nationwide to expand the conversation about what matters most.
After engaging their peers, the delegates will return to Dominican University of California in September for the 2016 college convention. The main event, a town hall, will be streamed live to partner colleges and universities across the nation. At the town hall, the delegates will identify the top issues they want the presidential candidates to address at the debates.
This newly formed national network of college students will inform the presidential debate moderators about the top issues that influence how students vote. Through the power of peer engagement and social media, young voters will hold the candidates accountable to addressing what matters most to this valuable youth constituency.
Student in video: Never before has access to information and engagement in civic life been so accessible. We can’t sit on the sidelines. We have to stand up, speak out and vote!
Students: Together we make a difference. Our vote counts.
KPFA: In its emphasis on social media, College Debate 16 resembles campus promotions of humanitarian militarism, including campaigns for intervention in Darfur, South Sudan, Syria and Uganda.
Student in promotional video: College Debate 16 is a social media initiative where we partnered with the Commission on Presidential Debates to create this social media initiative to get college students across the entire country involved in the presidential debates by keeping the conversation going through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Another student: Young people are the future. We don’t read the news but we’ll read a Twitter feed. We’re going to know what’s going on through our social media and so using Instagram, Twitter, can bring up terms like “foreign policy.”
KPFA: Students in the promotional videos identified the cost of education as a key concern, but Dr. Jill Stein, who advocates the abolition of student debt, will be excluded from the presidential debates. Stein says that 43 million college students and graduates are trapped in predatory student debt and that their votes are enough to swing the election.
Bay Area Greens say that they have been stopped from passing out campaign literature at Dominican University and that they will be at Dominican on Tuesday to protest that and Dr. Jill Stein’s exclusion from the presidential debates. In 2010, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Laura Wells was arrested while protesting her own exclusion from a debate at Dominican.
Greens will protest at Dominican University, 550 Acacia, San Rafael, CA during the college convention from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm on Tuesday, September 6. The Facebook page for the protest is https://www.facebook.com/events/514387055428976/.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.