Letter to the editor
Like a bolt of lightning I recently came to the realization that the Candidate forum sponsored by the Hughes Foundation (https://stockton.edu/hughes-center/ index.html) at our state university, Stockton, is an undemocratic event which is ultimately serving an unsustainable status quo. For many election cycles invitations have been given to only the 2 corporate party politicians. Independent candidates whose names are on the November 2nd Congressional ballot have been barred. Their mission statement is made meaningless by their actions:
“The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University serves as a catalyst for research on public policy and economic issues facing southern New Jersey. The Center provides a forum for public discussion of policy issues to engage citizens and policy makers, frame policy issues in a manner that encourages broader civic engagement, and strengthen the voice of Southern New Jersey in public debate. The Center enjoys broad regional support embodied in an Advisory Board of prominent citizens throughout the region.
The Center also sponsors research projects designed to educate New Jersey residents and policy makers about our environmental resources, community development and citizen engagement. These projects incorporate the expertise of faculty leaders at Stockton University in collaboration with members of the Hughes Center to inspire broader citizen engagement and more effective participation in public policy matters. The Hughes Center welcomes opportunities to collaborate with organizations and individuals who lead similar initiatives or wish to engage in a partnership.”
It is arrogance for the Hughes Foundation to believe that they have the right to be the decider as to who can participate, and worse still our State University Stockton is serving as an accomplice.
The 2 criteria for Independent candidates to be invited give a false veneer of legitimacy.
1. They must have $7,000 in their campaign account with receipts showing that $5,600 has been spent.
2. They must poll at least 7% on a survey the Hughes Foundation sponsors before the debate. Recently the Director of the Foundation sent me an email requesting a phonetic spelling of my name so the survey callers can clearly pronounce it. It is almost flattering that the Director thinks me so innocent and naïve that this could convince me that this meaningless survey has meaning.
What meaningful discussion could possibly emerge from such a rigged debate between the 2 corporate party politicians? Certainly, there will be no sparks flying regarding the biggest problem threatening our Democracy ...the obscene amounts of special interest campaign contributions. For both corporate parties amassing money is their objective and lifeblood. They get the money and the special interests get served. The people are denied Medicare For All which is a major priority in my campaign.
We see a nearly $700 billion 2018 Defense budget supported by 117 Congressional Democrats and all but 18 Republicans on the basis of lobbyist money. Clean water and Clean Air are at risk to special interests. Gun madness with 96 Americans dying each day from gun violence is protected by the NRA lobby. Everything in the public interest is threatened by big money buying political influence with the 2 corporate parties being the middle men & women.
Is it a criminal offense for a legitimate candidate to claim their place in this debate?
Are the 2 requirements set by the Foundation legitimate or bogus?
Does the Foundation have a legitimate right to proclaim themselves as the ultimate arbiter of what is legitimate speech? How does this action square with the Mission statement of the Foundation?
The only thing that is certain is my legitimacy as a candidate for the 2nd Congressional district. I fulfilled all the election requirements to qualify for my name to be on the ballot. That should be the only criteria for participating in this debate on 10/10/2018. — Steven Fenichel, 2nd Congressional Candidate
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