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Reinstate Debates That Serve Democracy

June 17, 2004

Re "Take the Gloves Off," editorial, June 12: The Times rightly condemns the Commission on Presidential Debates for its anti-democratic manipulation of debates and exclusion of serious contenders from outside the Republican and Democratic parties. Your endorsement of the new Citizens' Debate Commission as the best hope of reinstating debates that will serve democracy is well placed.

You erred, however, in calling the CDC bipartisan. The CDC exists to remove bipartisan control of the debates and replace it with nonpartisan events that produce real debate, not the "chewed-over sound bites" you noted. The CDC represents views from all over the political compass and will permit discussion of a wide range of issues excluded under current bipartisan control. All Americans who value vigorous debate and fair participation standards should urge the networks and candidates to reject the glorified infomercials that have come to characterize these "debates" and instead engage in nonpartisan Citizens' Debates.

Jeff Milchen

CDC Board of Directors

Bozeman, Mont.

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What is intriguing about candidates responding to questions they know in advance? Instead of these debates being conducted by TV anchormen, it is the public that should be asking the questions. This would do more to get the answers to questions that the voters need to make their decisions.

Deanna Palic

Woodland Hills

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