Over at See the Forest, Thomas Leavitt blogged recently about a Green Party Press Release called, "Top 12 Issues Censored From the Bush-Kerry Debates." I left a comment, but decided to elaborate here.
I'm not going to publish the entire press release. Rather, I will respond to the main charges (as I have before); the Greens claim the two-party candidate debates "effectively censored numerous issues important to Americans."
Leaving aside the fact that the candidates didn't write the questions, meaning that they literally could neither set the agenda nor censor specific items, what are the issues Greens want to emphasize?
First, Greens say the Iraq invasion violated international law. OK, this may be true, but Kerry's "global test" for preemptive war and his discussion of legitimacy are about preserving international law, which only matters because of legitimacy (there's no coercive power of a global state, since no such central authority exists). Preemption under imminent threat has long been viewed as legal, by the way.
Charges two through five are about Iraq and I've blogged extensively about them. Leavitt skips them too. It's hard to argue that Iraq issues have been censored in the 2004 campaign.
Sixth, the Patriot Act. Kerry voted for it, but now calls for changes, especially in application. This came up in the second debate.
Seventh, climate change: Kerry supports the US re-entering the Kyoto negotiation process. He also supported the McCain-Lieberman Stewardship bill that would have required EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. 43 Senators voted for it in October 2003. This issue also came up in debate #2. Did the Greens miss that one?
By the way, I argued with my Green friends that Al Gore was a stronger environment candidate than Ralph Nader in 2000, and given Kerry's very strong record on this issue, it is probably true in 2004 as well.
Eighth: Ah, the familiar Green argument that the Republicans and Democrats have abandoned working people and suck up to corporations. Kerry supports a higher minimum wage, which is clearly a step towards a living wage (an issue mentioned in the press release). Moreover, Kerry supports a wide variety of reductions in corporate welfare, which he did mention in the second debate. Kerry's positions on media, health care, and long-term military bases in Iraq aren't popular with the corporate crowd.
Ninth: health care. OK, so Kerry doesn't advocate a single payer system in 2004, but he does offer a plan to insure millions more Americans and the issue was not "censored" in the debates.
Tenth, the drug war is bad. True, this hasn't received much attention in the campaign, but TalkLeft had a nice summary of Kerry's progressive positions back in August.
Eleventh: media concentration. Kerry is against further corporate consolidation of media and wants greater diversity. He would reverse many recent decisions that promote corporate media growth.
Twelfth: Election reform. Kerry supports paper ballots, of course, and has sought amendments to McCain-Feingold that would move towards partial public financing of campaigns. He has also sought to make election day a half-day national holiday (to allow voting).
Summary: The green agenda isn't all that different from the Democratic agenda.
And Kerry is arguably the most progressive Democratic Presidential candidate since JFK in 1960. Certainly, he is the most progressive Democratic Presidential candidate with a very good shot of winning the election (just in case readers favor Walter Mondale).
Greens are going to reward that choice by voting for Nader?
Update: Or David Cobb, who is the Green party candidate in 2004.
I said Nader because polls show that more people looking for an alternative to the Kerry Democratic ticket and sympathetic to the above "Green ideas" are going to vote Nader, rather than Cobb.