As Israelis anxiously monitor the high-stakes 2024 U.S. presidential election that will determine their closest ally’s leadership, many are eyeing the exclusion of independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from the first debate with a mix of disappointment and weary recognition.

RFK Jr.’s failure to qualify for Thursday’s CNN-hosted debate showcases the strict barriers confronting any White House hopeful from outside America’s two-party establishment. To make the stage, candidates needed to reach 15% support in four qualifying national polls and secure ballot access in enough states to theoretically obtain an Electoral College majority.

Despite RFK Jr. ostensibly checking many of the prerequisites needed to be a legitimate candidate, he fell well short of securing ballot spots with just seven states bearing his famous name and only 3 recognized polls by CNN giving him a 15% chance of defeating Democratic incumbent Joe Biden and Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Kennedy subsequently accused CNN of being unfair by placing standards intended to keep him off the stage.

“Presidents Biden and Trump do not want me on the debate stage and CNN illegally agreed to their demand,” Kennedy’s campaign said in a statement. “My exclusion by Presidents Biden and Trump from the debate is undemocratic, un-American, and cowardly.”

“If the debate goes forward without Mr. Kennedy, the Kennedy campaign intends to pursue this issue for as long as it takes to obtain justice against these illegal acts.”

The harsh reality is that such towering obstacles are simply standard operating procedure defending the two-party status quo in modern American politics.

Even for a Kennedy, attempting to successfully get on all 50 states’ ballots has become virtually impossible. There’s the dizzying patchwork of state ballot access laws requiring tens of millions in upfront costs, along with a herculean grassroots army of signature gatherers just to get an independent’s name printed in consequential battlegrounds like Florida or Pennsylvania.

The last independent candidate who appeared on a presidential debate stage was Texas billionaire Ross Perot against former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush in 1992, who ended up winning 18.9% of the popular vote and 0 electoral votes.”

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