As I sit here we are closing in on seventy days until the Iowa Caucus. In Iowa the Green and Libertarian Parties are not quite yet official political parties. Therefore they are currently Non-Party Political Organizations in this state. Therefore Libertarians decide if they want to swallow their pride and switch parties for a day to support someone named Paul. Greens get to decide if they want to swallow their pride and switch parties for a day to support a Democratic Socialist that also happens to be a career politician. From my experience I find Iowa to be dominated by Independents that are willing to support someone from a party other than the one that they may currently have marked on their voter registration card. Either way with a relatively short window before the big gangs hold their events you would think that the fourth estate would be strong in Iowa. Let us take a look at where we stand. After all, our motto is still Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain, right?

Let us start with the big blue gang. The Democratic Party just had its second debate right here in Des Moines, Iowa at Drake University. As of press time they feature three candidates currently in their debates. Most people have heard these three names by now whether they wanted to or not, of course, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley. There are two curious omissions from the Democratic Debates that are still technically running. These two people are arguably 4th and 5th in position for the Democratic nomination. Respectively they are Willie Wilson and Lloyd Kelso. Willie Wilson and Lloyd Kelso will get a chance to debate in the Democratic Liberty Caucus debates. One of these debates is set for Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, January 9th, 2016 at 7:00 P.M. The venue is not currently set. All of the above candidates not named Clinton have openly expressed dismay at the debate process for the 2016 election. Martin O’Malley’s campaign loudly protested the rules, and said that it may seek to set up debates outside of the auspices of the party. (The party has threatened to exclude candidates who participate in unsanctioned events.) Senator Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying he was “disappointed, but not surprised,” by the schedule. Both Dr. Willie Wilson and Lloyd Kelso have expressed similar sentiments. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I noticed the name of the Hearst Corporation flash across the screen before the Drake University debate. The Hearst family is involved in the ownership and management of the corporation to this day. The former pater familias, William Randolph Hearst used the power of his newspaper chain to editorialize for the passage of the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act in the 1930’s.

I could talk about yellow journalism all day but let us move on to the big red gang. The Republican Party is on the way to their fifth debate. As of the minute the field has been narrowed down to eight candidates that were allowed to debate prime time. The candidates, in order of airtime in the last debate, were Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, and John Kasich. The most notable omissions from the big red machine this prime time were Mike Huckabee, and Chris Christie. The sixth debate, and the first debate of the year 2016, will be held right in my home city of Des Moines, Iowa, which holds the first caucuses, and will be the second debate to air on Fox News. As in Fox’s first debate, the moderators are set to be Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace.  Iwould be remiss if I didn’t mention that Fox News has a parent company, the Rupert Murdoch controlled News Corporation, that had as recently as 2015, as its second largest shareholder Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Prince Alwaleed’s uncle, former King Abdullah, ruled Saudi Arabia under Sharia law.

I could talk about yellow journalism all day but let us move on to the third largest party currently in the USA. The candidates currently vying for the Libertarian Party Nomination, in the order listed on the parties official website are, Marc Allen Feldman, John Hale, Cecil Ince, Steve Kerbel, Darryl Perry, and Austin Petersen. No candidates are endorsed by the party, nor will be, until delegates select the party’s nominee at the LP national convention on May 26-30, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. If you are not a Libertarian you have no idea if they have any debates scheduled. I am a Libertarian and I have no idea if they have any debates scheduled. In June of this year The Libertarian Party joined Level the Playing Field, the successor group to Americans Elect, and the Green Party to file a lawsuit aimed at the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a Democratic- and Republican-run agency that sets rules designed to exclude third parties and independents from presidential debates. The lawsuit is filed against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which is also run by Democrats and Republicans and which refuses to enforce laws that the CPD is blatantly violating. The Libertarian Party believes that “Any candidate eligible for the Presidency and on enough ballots to be elected should be on the debate stage. Anything else is unfair and perpetrates a fraud on the American voter.  This lawsuit is just one way we are calling out this sham and fighting for all Americans to hear from all of the candidates for President.”

This brings us to the current fourth largest party in the USA. Can you guess which one it is? It is the Green Party. It is expected that the Green Party will nominate Jill Stein for the second national election in a row. Their official website lists Cynthia McKinney as a potential contender. It is worth noting that The Green Party does not accept donations from corporations, political action committees (PACs), 527(c) organizations or soft money. The party’s platforms and rhetoric harshly criticize any corporate influence and control over government, media, and society at large.

There is no rule saying that people vying for President have to announce their intentions light-years before the election. The main road block to a historical victory would be ballot access. If you are not the nominee for a recognized party you have a lot of Federal Reserve Notes to spend and/or signatures to collect to get on the ballot in enough states to be mathematically eligible to win the Electoral College and thereby the Presidency or Vice Presidency of these United States of America. Both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, the nominations for the Green and Libertarian parties in 2012 achieved ballot access sufficient to be mathematically eligible to win the office in our most recent Presidential election. In fact, Johnson finished with over 1.2 million votes, an all-time Libertarian Party record in terms of raw total. The most notable wildcards as of today would arguably be John David McAfee and Jesse Ventura. John McAfee is running for President under the Cyber Party ticket. He has told the media that his candidacy is driven less by any long held desire to become President, and more by a calling to protect the U.S. against cyber threats. Jesse Ventura has been talking about running for President since Wrestlemania XX. Jesse Ventura is one of five independents to govern an American state since the year 2000. If you have access to a public library you can do an internet search for any of the names mentioned in this piece and you will find plenty of biased and some unbiased information on these people. I highly recommend doing it for yourself. If whomever winds up taking the oath when the smoke clears after election day needs any extra sense of urgency as to the direction of this country both Kanye West and Lindsay Lohan have announced interest in running for the office in 2020.

Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.
 Thomas Carlyle

Marco Battaglia writes for the Iowa Free Press and is a proud member of The Fourth Estate

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