Two days ago, Irregular Times blogger J. Clifford asked pointedly, “What’s the Point of the Foreign Policy Presidential Debate?”:
Barack Obama says he’s willing to start a war with Iran over issues related to the processing of materials generated in nuclear power plants. Mitt Romney says the same thing.
Barack Obama has promoted the idea that presidents of the United States have the right to start wars without the consent of Congress. Mitt Romney likes that idea too.
Barack Obama has increased the military budget over and over again. Mitt Romney supports increases in the military budget too.
Barack Obama supports the creation of more free trade agreements like NAFTA, despite their role in sending American jobs overseas. Mitt Romney has the same position.
Really, what’s the point of a foreign policy debate between Obama and Romney?
We could add to this list.
Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support indefinite detention of people abducted by the United States government, with no provision for trial and no provision for full habeas corpus rights.
Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the expanded use of military drones to bomb villages in countries where we haven’t declared war, action that regularly kills peaceable men, women and children.
If Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree on these major points of policy, what can you expect out of tonight’s foreign policy debate other than quibbles over symbolic issues and efforts to provoke gaffes? Why bother to watch the debate?
Here’s one reason to bother: tonight there’s an expanded debate beyond these two candidates, one you most likely haven’t heard about. At 9:00 pm Eastern Time, when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney start their two-person debate, Democracy Now! will start streaming an augmented debate that adds two more presidential candidates — Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson (who interestingly traded endorsements of and from Mitt Romney a decade ago). Every time Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have finished answering a debate question, Democracy Now! will pause the video of that debate and give Stein and Anderson each an opportunity to answer the question as well.
To find a real breadth of foreign policy possibilities, don’t just watch the official debate tonight. Watch the expanded and inclusive debate, streamed live at Democracy Now!.