For the first time since Ross Perot’s campaign twenty years ago, it seems as though a third party presidential candidate could be allowed into the televised debates. Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico, has gained a large enough following, sufficient ballot access and (theoretically) adequate poll numbers to be granted a spot on stage alongside Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a prospect that has invigorated alternative party enthusiasts and independent voters from all ends of the spectrum. But these celebrations, egged on by the jubilant activists who are readying themselves for an electoral revolution, may be a bit premature.
As of this writing, Johnson still hasn’t been invited to Wednesday’s debate. Time is rapidly running out, and even after three sponsors rescinded their financing in protest of Johnson’s exclusion, the bi-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates is trying to pretend as though the former governor doesn’t exist. It’s the same old song and dance voters have endured for the past sixteen years. The thought of a three-person debate sends chills down the calculating spines of both major parties, which aside from controlling the American electoral process are also actually in charge of the debates. Long gone are the days when the League of Women Voters, completely neutral and civic minded, selected who could bring their message to the masses. Now the Republicans and Democrats control the show, and both are wary the ardently anti-war and rigidly fiscally conservative Libertarian could pull enough votes from either nominee to “spoil” the election.
It was this logic, a devotion to the two-party duopoly, which locked previous third party candidates out of the debates. In recent years, famed consumer advocate Ralph Nader, columnist Patrick Buchanan and Congressman Bob Barr were all refused a podium alongside their peers, though logic dictated they should have been present because each had the ballot access in enough states to feasibly win the election. The preservation of the corrupt status quo triumphed over the public good, over your rights and best interests. Each debate has remained a two-candidate show, mildly entertaining at best, a farce at worst.
After Perot’s powerful showing in 1992, deals were made behind closed doors to assure no independent candidate would ever be given the opportunity to challenge the major party candidates on their own turf. During a campaign season this uninspiring, where a Democratic nominee is trying to rehash the promises he failed to keep four years ago is squaring off against a Republican who has shown almost no understanding of economics or foreign policy, the chance that Gary Johnson could have an impact is very high. After all, Johnson is the only anti-war candidate (he has gone to great length to assure voters there wont be a strike on Iran under his watch). Unlike Obama, he is pro-gay marriage and in favor of marijuana legalization; in contrast to Romney, he has a track record of actual fiscal conservatism during his time as governor. In summation: Gary Johnson actually stands for something. He is the real deal, and as such, he would likely shine during a debate which will otherwise only feature two empty suits.
American voters need to stand up and demand Johnson be allowed to debate, even if they don’t personally agree with his politics. The philosophy of freedom is too noble to be thrown away for the preservation of a corrupt duopoly; if you believe in the principles that made this country what it was (and could be again), then there is no justifying the censorship of a candidate who could secure enough electors to become president. Contact the debate’s sponsors and let them know you are outraged they are supporting a corrupt, closed event. Let them know there are two additional candidates, Governor Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein, who have just as much of a right to be on that stage as our failed president and a snake oil salesman from Massachusetts.
America has been pushed far enough. It is time we stop letting the two major parties tell us what we can think, which candidates we can vote for, and how we should exercise our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.