Apparently not aware that their microphones were still on after speaking at the NAACP Annual Convention on Thursday, Fox News picked up Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards discussing their desire to eliminate some of the lower tier candidates from future gatherings. According to the AP Edwards said, “We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group.” Clinton agreed, “We’ve got to cut the number…They’re not serious.” She added that the two campaigns have been discussing steps to eliminate candidates from the debates and forums. “We’ve got to get back to it,” Clinton said to Edwards.

Yesterday, Clinton blamed Edwards for it all. “I think he has some ideas about what he’d like to do,” she said in New Hampshire yesterday. Edwards said that he wasn’t in favor of excluding candidates, but that he would like to see the field divided in half and groups of four invited to each event. “The result would be that we would have a much more serious discussion, and people would actually be able to see what the differences are between us,” he said. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has taken up the fight for himself and his fellow lower tier candidates. “Candidates, no matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not. Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President.” said Kucinich.

Kucinich said that he would be happy to debate just the two of them. “I accept their offer to participate in a debate with just the two of them,” Kucinich said. “John should be happy with this, since he wants a small group.” It is clear now that the Democratic primary is being railroaded to an inevitable victory by Clinton, Obama, or Edwards. The most troubling aspect of this is that candidates are trying to cut down the field six months before the first ballots are cast. The lower tier candidates aren’t raising enough money to advertise, so if they are excluded from debates and public forums their campaigns are doomed to obscurity.

Edwards wants the field thinned because he is lagging in both fundraising and the polls, while Clinton wants an easier path to the nomination. Edwards could use all the free media attention that he can get, and Clinton is looking to consolidate Democratic support around her. Kucinich is correct. Candidates should not be the ones to determine who is important enough to speak to the American people. In about 6 months, the voters will decide who they want to hear more from, and who they think should go home. Both parties by frontloading their 2008 primaries have created a system that is designed to help the wealthy nationally known candidates.

The establishment in each party has picked their frontrunners and now they are trying to direct voters towards their choices. What both political parties are doing is an insult to democracy. They are turning next year’s primaries into a sham. Money had already become a barrier to inclusion in our modern politics. Now the parties are using money to create a barrier to exclude candidates who can’t raise enough cash to compete in a de facto national primary on February 5, 2008. The democratic process has already been short circuited. Edwards and Clinton are only trying to kill the last bit of fairness left in the system.

Kucinich press release

Washington Post story 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics
 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse

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