Ron Paul’s lack of media access a violation of U.S. commitments on democratic elections

Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney at the Nov. 22 CNN presidential debate on national security

To ensure that the will of the people serves as the basis of the authority of government, the participating States will hold free elections at reasonable intervals, as established by law … [and] provide that no legal or administrative obstacle stands in the way of unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis for all political groupings and individuals wishing to participate in the electoral process …

OSCE Copenhagen Document, signed by the United States, June 1990

With the unorthodox candidacy of Texas congressman Ron Paul doing better than expected in the Republican primary race, the media, together with the GOP establishment, is resorting to equally unorthodox measures to sideline his campaign.

Having endured a near blackout in the early days of his campaign, Ron Paul has received some grudging respect from the media lately, but while the antiwar libertarian has been granted some access to the media of late, it is frequently hostile and disingenuous — as seen in this Nov. 20 exchange on CBS’s Face the Nation:

In the Republican primary debates, Paul has sometimes been given just the bare minimum of time to make his points. In the first hour of the GOP debate in South Carolina on Nov. 13, for example, he had just 89 seconds to share his views on television. After numerous public complaints from Paul’s presidential campaign and his supporters, he received a higher percentage of speaking time at CNN’s debate on Nov. 22, having a total of 600 seconds to make his points.

Now, however, Ron Paul is being excluded from the debates altogether.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has declined to invite Paul to its presidential candidates forum this Wednesday in Washington, citing his “misguided and extreme views.”

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said Paul was not invited because the organization objects to his positions that run contrary to Republican Party orthodoxy. “He’s just so far outside of the mainstream of the Republican Party and this organization,” he told Washington Jewish Week.

In an opinion piece published on RJC’s website on Friday, Jonathan Tobin writes, “Just as no one would consider a demand the GOP group provide a platform for a Democrat, there is no reason for it to allow Paul to pretend he is anything but an extremist who is far outside of the mainstream, especially when it comes to issues concerning the U.S.-Israel alliance.”

“Paul claims his opposition to aid to Israel ought not to disqualify him for pro-Israel voters,” Tobin declares. “He says aid is bad for the Jewish state and that he respects its sovereignty more than many of its friends who seek to impose American solutions to the peace process that it rejects. But this is not a serious argument.”

Apparently the RJC – which calls itself “the sole voice of Jewish Republicans to Republican decision makers and the Jewish community” – doesn’t feel compelled to allow a frontrunner in the Republican primaries to present his “not serious” arguments in his own voice.

It seems likely that the RJC and the Republican establishment as a whole are taking the advice of Republican strategist and former senior staffer in the Bush administration Bradley Blakeman, who explained to Fox Business News in September, “Ron Paul is neither selectable by the party to be nominated or electable by the people.”

“Let’s get real,” said Blakeman. “He’s a gadfly and nothing more than that. If I were [Mitt] Romney and [Rick] Perry, I would be thinking of a way to get Ron Paul off the stage because he is a distraction.”

By prohibiting Paul from participating in its presidential debate, the Republican Jewish Coalition has seemingly taken Blakeman’s advice “to get Ron Paul off the stage” to heart.

It is not only the height of hypocrisy for a Jewish organization which claims to “respect the differences of opinion among our membership” on “abortion, gay rights, gun control, global warming” and “other topics” to silence the voice of Paul on the issue of the U.S.-Israeli alliance. It is also arguably a violation of the United States’ international commitments on democratic elections.

As the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) explains in its handbook for election observation,

Equal conditions should be ensured for all participants in the election process so that they compete on a level playing field. … Candidates and political parties should have unimpeded access to the media on a non-discriminatory basis, and state or public media should meet their special responsibility for providing sufficient, balanced and impartial information to enable the electorate to make well-informed choices.

As an OSCE participating State and signatory to the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document, the U.S. is as bound to those obligations as any other participating State, including frequent targets of U.S. criticism such as Belarus and Russia.

If the Republican candidates who were invited to RJC’s forum have any integrity at all, they will decline the invitation unless and until all GOP candidates are permitted to debate.

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About The Compliance Campaign

Campaigning for a United States in compliance with its international obligations. Follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/compliancecamp Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/compliancecamp Comments, article submissions or news leads are welcome at compliancecampaign [at] gmail.com.

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