Presidential elections are coming up, and with each election come the debates. Depending on your level of interest, you either watch these or find a movie on cable to watch. The debates are stirring up controversy even before they start this year--the 'noise' is being made by three high school girls from New Jersey. It all started with a project for their civics class.
Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis, three high school sophomores have launched a petition on Change.org, calling for the Commission on Presidential Debates to have a female moderator for at least one of the three 2012 presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in October.
Carole Simpson of ABC News, was the last woman to moderate a presidential debate. Simpson served as the moderator of a 1992 debate between Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot.
PBS' Gwen Ifill moderated two vice presidential debates ( 2004's Dick Cheney-John Edwards and 2008's Joe Biden-Sarah Palin), but the rest have been moderated by men.
Axelrod was quoted in a press release as saying: "The fact that there hasn't been a female moderator of one of the debates in so long is just another sign that America is a long way away from being as equal as it thinks it is."
The young women started the petition as part of a project for their civics class. However when the girls tried to deliver the nearly 100,000 signatures to the Commission on Presidential Debates they were not allowed into the building and were blocked by security guards. (I guess those signatures must have been a real threat to the CPD?)
The web page the girls put up on Change.org has six suggestions for possible moderators but the girls say they are not limiting the options of the Commission on Presidential Debates, they would be happy with any intelligent woman well versed in politics and the election. Their suggestions included: Ifill, ABC News' Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, CNN's Christiane Amanpour and CBS News' Lesley Stahl.
It should be noted that of the commission members, only two are women. They call that equal? Below you can see the letter the students wrote to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Dear Presidential Debate Committee,
A lot has happened in the United States since 1992--the last time a woman moderated presidential debates: the crashing of the World Trade Center, the election of our first African American president, and an increasing involvement of women in politics. Or so it would seem. Yet, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, women hold only 17% of the seats in Senate and 16.8% of the seats in the House of Representatives. In the past twenty years, they have made up 0% of moderators of the Presidential debates.
Women and men will never be truly equal in our country until they're one and the same in positions of power and both visible in politics. We need to take immediate action in order to move towards this change. It is time for a woman to have a chance to show what she's capable of by moderating debates in the upcoming election.
Please, in one of the three upcoming presidential debates, appoint a woman moderator.
This is one civics project that is rocking the political boat!
The question is have we 'come a long way baby?' or are we going back to where we were when the women's movement started? Are young women today not as involved in women's rights because they have reaped the benefits their mothers and grandmothers fought so hard for so they don't appreciate them?
If you want to have a moderator who will represent what is important to all Americans, it's time to ensure that one of the moderators is a woman, who has a woman's point of view and who knows what issues women care about. Not the issues men THINK we should care about because it's what is important to them.
So make your voice heard! Sign the petition. Write to your representatives and senators about the Commission on Presidential Debates denying these young women access to drop off petitions signed by the American people about an issue that directly effects them. Maybe it is time someone else organized the Presidential debates.
I want to say we've come a long way baby, but I think we're still just taking baby steps. It's time to get up and WALK like a WOMAN!