For too long, the Democrats and Republicans have worked together to protect their grip on our political system. Over many decades, they have built up a fortress of systematic advantages that shuts out independent competition and limits the political discourse to false binary choices.

Record numbers of US voters now believe we need a third major party, and far more Americans identify as independent (39%) than either political party (31% Democrat, 28% Republican). But the two-party duopoly and their associated political industrial complex works diligently behind the scenes to control the narrative and thwart any would-be competition.

The most insidious way the two parties block new voices and choices is through exclusionary political debates.

Starting with the bipartisan launch of the private Commission on Presidential Debates in 1987, the Democrats and Republicans have worked to keep independent and third party candidates out of presidential debates, with Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign being the one exception. At the local level, Democratic and Republican candidates routinely compel debate hosts and sponsors to invite only candidates from the two major parties, and the media plays along.

Voters don’t even know this is happening.

The good news is that the arguments in favor of closed debates are weak and unpopular. In fact, 3 out of 4 of voters think debates should be open to all ballot-qualified candidates.

By taking on closed debates, we will take on the duopoly at their weakest defense point. We will shine a bright light on the fundamental and widely-held principles that closed debates violate:

  • Our democratic republic is healthiest with a well-informed electorate
  • Voters deserve to learn about all of the choices on their ballot

We will use the small handful of statewide elections in 2019 as a proving ground for our strategies. We will organize to bring grassroots pressure to bear on the people and institutions that work together to justify, excuse, implement, and promote exclusionary debates. We will organize broadly to change the prevailing mindsets that limit the effectiveness of independent and third party campaigns. And we will change the narrative about what's possible in the fight to fix a broken political system.

We know we can win locally, and gaining momentum with some local breakthroughs will help set the stage for opening up the presidential debates in 2020.

The time is ripe to open up the political debates of our nation at every level of government. We hope you'll join with us and support the fight to end the travesty of closed debates.


Since 2012, a small group of citizens across the political spectrum who felt marginalized by exclusionary debates has been using social media to challenge the duopoly control of these important public interest forums. We each had petitions on that were gaining traction, but we decided to pool together our efforts to create a unified, non-partisan and cross-partisan voice, and have been coordinating ever since as Open the Debates, without spending a dime.

Now we are taking the fight for open debates to the next level. We’ll be focusing on the small handful of statewide races in 2019 to test out our strategies and build momentum for 2020 with some local breakthroughs. We are confident that with the right organizing, we can grow our support to over 100,000 people in 2019 and one million strong in 2020—becoming a force that can no longer be ignored.


The money raised here will go directly into the startup costs for getting Open the Debates off the ground as an effective national organizing vehicle on this critical issue, including the hiring of a full-time director. We hope to raise a total of $25,000 by February, 2019 through crowdfunding and major gifts, and another $100,000 by June, 2019.


Great news! Thanks to a generous donor, the next $10,000 that we can raise on this Crowdpac by February will be doubled!! Help us smash through our $10,000 goal by donating & sharing widely!

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • endorsed

    “You can't spoil a system that's rotten to its core. But you can fix it. #OpenTheDebates to #MoreVoicesBetterChoices!”

January 9, 2019

25% of the way!

THANK YOU to the 20 generous donors who have helped us reach the important milestone of 25% of our crowdfunding goal.

WITH YOUR SUPPORT we will seize this unprecedented opportunity to remake our political system so that it truly represents We, the People. 

We need more voices and better choices in the political discourse, now more than ever. 

We're happy to share that our first article published at the Independent Voter Network, and the associated graphics, have gotten a lot of traction. We're reframing the story about this broken system and the common sense fixes that are at hand and gaining steam.

Please share the article and the graphics that help make the case that it's time, past time, to #OpenTheDebates to #MoreVoicesBetterChoices.

And thank you for getting in on the ground floor of this growing push for fair and informative debates.

Back to all updates

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!