By Sherill Borg
Moraga, CA, September 2, 2010

Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina were not joined by Peace & Freedom challenger Marsha Feinland or the other minor party candidates in their hour long televised debate last night due to an oversight in the program. The organizers forgot debates were supposed to appear democratic.

Therefore, an "Open the Debate" protest was launched and organized by Feinland. Press releases were sent out, and on September 1, the night of the debate at St. Mary's College in Moraga, over 30 community protesters comprised of Peace & Freedom Party members, SDS students, Green Party members and Code Pink members demonstrated with picket signs and megaphones to remind debate participants and their organizers of their civic duty.

Except that Channel 2 News just basically panned protesters; there was very little news coverage for the "Open the Debate" demonstrations.

The media -- evidently more interested in contest than freedom of speech rights -- chose instead to spotlight the 40 demonstrators on the other side of the street. The "Vote Boxer Out!" Tea Party-leaning group supporting Fiorina and the "we won't vote for Fiorina" CNA and SEIU union groups supporting Boxer captured the headlines because of their affiliation with the candidates allowed to debate.

The efforts for democratic debates seemed for naught until KPFA, inspired by the "Open the Debate" demonstration, stepped up.

The next day, September 2 at 8:30am KPFA added a segment in their program to include independent and third-party candidates for U.S. Senate in the Moraga debate by asking them to respond to excerpts from those debate. They engaged in free and open dialogs on the campaign issues - in stark contrast to the scripted exchange of talking points held at St. Mary's.

Feinland's organizing paid off and third-party candidates for U.S. Senate were heard by many more than would have had the "Open the Debate" protest not occurred.

Democracy exists albeit in small enclaves after much organizing and protest.

To learn more about Marsha Feinland's Senate campaign, go to her website and campaign page. To listen to the September 2 KPFA debate, click on the green Play button immediately below.

Sherill Borg is the Peace and Freedom Candidate for State Board of Equalization, 1st District, and a member of the Contra Costa County Cental Committee.

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