The right to vote means little unless we have the right to know who we can vote for. Most people don’t know that the Commission on Presidential Debates is a corporation controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties; they have a vested interest in stifling democracy by locking out independent candidates from the debates. In fact, Green Party candidate Jill Stein was arrested trying to enter the room where the debates were held in 2012 — while she was a candidate on the ballot.

Stein is the only candidate who refuses to take money from lobbyists, PACs and special interests. Her Green New Deal would get the US to 100-percent renewal energy by 2030 while providing 22 million new jobs at home in America. She would make higher education a right so that we have a stronger work force. She is an exceptional candidate and much of America has never heard of her. The Democratic and Republican candidates would like to keep it that way.

Citizens are currently voting against Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton without any real conviction for the candidate they are ultimately voting for. No one is voting for anybody, only against somebody. The people are shielded from independent parties, from true democracy. They have no idea there is a better candidate on the ballot. Sign the petition at http://www.jill2016.com/openthedebatespetition to allow Jill Stein into the debates, to give us the true democracy America advertises. Don’t let “democracy” become some slogan or ambiguous word like “chocolatey” is used to sell food products that don’t actually have any chocolate in them.

I share a lot of people’s fears about “throwing their vote away” by voting for a lesser-known but better candidate. Fortunately, there is a strategy to resolve this fear: the “I’ll vote for Jill if you will” pledge that’s gaining momentum. (Visit http://jdrachel.com/2016/07/21/the-ill-vote-for-jill-if-you-will-pledge-campaign/).

There’s a massive pool of voters who refuse to be disempowered. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” We have the power to save our environment, our education and our political system. You have the power, now be the change.

Lindsay Goodwin

Santa Monica