Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
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Trump Might Call for Four-Way Debates – But Only If He Thinks He Can’t Win

“Trump might do the right thing, but only to protect his own fragile ego.”

On Tuesday night, just as I was preparing to do a commentary on whether Donald Trump might threaten to drop out of the televised debates if the candidates for the Green and Libertarian Parties weren’t allowed to participate, I ran across a story that claimed Trump had already done just that. A website called the Santa Monica Observer reported the Trump decision as fact, but without naming a source. Nobody else ran the story, and the Trump campaign said it wasn’t true, so it was probably a hoax. However, a Trump threat to boycott the debates remains a tantalizing prospect, given that, back in 2000, he said it was “disgraceful” that the Democrats and Republicans were able to shut the smaller parties out of the presidential debates. Green Party campaign senior advisor Kevin Zeese has all but dared Trump to live up to his principled stance of 16 years ago.

Principles aside, Trump has some self-centered reasons to want Jill Stein and Gary Johnson standing next to him and Hillary on September 26th. Very few Green Party supporters would vote for Trump under any circumstances, so a good showing by Stein doesn’t come at his expense. But, according to recent polls, voters that now plan to pull the lever for Gary Johnson’s Libertarian campaign would otherwise be split about evenly between Trump and Clinton. Therefore, Trump would appear to have a relative net advantage over Clinton if there were a vigorous, four-way presidential contest.

“Back in 2000, Trump said it was ‘disgraceful’ that the Democrats and Republicans were able to shut the smaller parties out of the presidential debates.”

I personally don’t think that such mathematical calculations are central to the way Donald Trump thinks. He really is a narcissist who always talks about winning and can’t stand to lose. And, unless that comb-over has affected his brain cells, he should know that Clinton is even better at lying on her feet than he is. She studies her lies, while Trump just makes things up as he goes along. If Trump becomes convinced that he is going to lose this election badly or be humiliated in the debates, he will seek to muddy the waters by introducing other actors into the contest, so that Clinton can’t say she beat him one-on-one. That is, he’ll do the right thing, and call for Stein and Johnson’s participation in the debates, but only in order to protect his own fragile ego. Right now, some polls are showing Trump even with Clinton, which is probably bad news for Stein and Johnson’s chances of getting in the first debate – but that could change quickly.

There is little hope that Stein and Johnson will average 15 percent in the polls – the arbitrary cut-off the Republicans and Democrats have imposed to keep third parties out. That’s because the media corporations that both commission the polls and monopolize the news dedicate only one half of one percent of their election coverage to the Green and Libertarian Parties. As a result, about one-third of the public has never even heard of Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. This is what elections have come to in an age when monopoly capital has a monopoly on information and defines what is and isn’t news and who is and isn’t worthy of public office. Both Trump and Clinton are products of this dictatorship of capital. It’s a crime that Jill Stein and Gary Johnson won’t be seen by the debate’s huge audience unless Donald Trump is convinced he can’t win.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20160907_FourWayDebate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12pm EDT