As my regular readers know, I have always taken the position that the maximum number of candidates should be included in all debates for the presidency. In this campaign I have argued that both Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) should be included, even though I have not supported either candidate.

Here I offer a proposal to address this question once and for all, and my suggestion is this:

Any television forum for debates should agree when they choose to exclude any candidate, and the national chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties would have authority to either confirm that candidate's exclusion or reverse it, in which case the candidate would be included.

This solution is the lesser of evils, but in my opinion far less evil than the alternatives, for these reasons:

I do not believe it is right for any profit-making corporation, basing its business on commercial interests, to make this decision. This is not an argument against profits. It is an argument against decisions fundamental to American democracy — decisions regarding who has access to the airwaves — being made with the inherently conflicted interest of profit-making corporations.

Nor do I believe the decision to exclude candidates should be made by government, including the courts. This would give a very dangerous level of power to the government, with those holding existing power having a huge interest in preserving their power and excluding candidates who threaten it.

I would not want the court that engaged in a party-line judicial vote to decide the 2000 election deciding which candidates should be excluded from the airwaves.

Giving the national chairmen of the political parties the authority to insist that candidates not be excluded from debates is imperfect, but at least brings these decisions closer to our democratic process with some checks and balances.

Let's take the current situation with Democrats, which is similar to the situation with the Republicans. Assume Howard Dean could say to television debates: "I want Dennis included" or the opposite.

Howard is responsible to national Democrats. Dennis's supporters would obviously weigh in, but so would Democrats such as myself. I support Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) but would vehemently call for Kucinich to be included.

In the current dynamic, Clinton, Obama and Edwards would all be asked to take a public position. I would predict they would all state that Dennis should be included, but whatever position they take, Democratic primary and caucus voters would have the opportunity to evaluate the candidates based on their position of expanding or limiting the debates.

For good reason, there is now a major public backlash against media coverage of the campaign, which is almost 100 percent limited to insider gibberish with predictions about who will win, and political tactics, while voters want a far more serious discussion during an enormously serious high-stakes election.

The issue of totally excluding any candidate from televised access to voters during the debates strikes at the heart and soul of our democracy. This issue will continue in this primary season for both parties.

These is no simple solution, but I propose the decision should not be made by profit-making companies, and should not be made by the government, but should be kept as close as possible to our democratic values, with as many checks and balances as possible.

I welcome all proposals and hope this note can initiate a very serious debate, aiming for a very specific and fair solution, which is very long overdue.