On Sept. 7, NBC and MSNBC will present an event called The Commander in Chief forum. While there is some irony in this forum being hosted by the “Karl Marx Channel,” there is a huge problem with this forum and the subsequent debates planned for this fall.
Someone is missing.
It is Gary Johnson.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the Libertarian nominee for president this year. Johnson is polling in double digits in most polls that include him and like both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, he is on the ballot in all 50 states.
NBC/MSNBC are a private organization and are certainly free to invite whoever they want to be a part of their “forum.” However, there will be three Presidential debates this fall, and so far Gary Johnson is not included in those debates.
The Presidential Debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The parent organizations of the Commission on Presidential Debates are the Republican and Democrat Parties. Is anyone really shocked that they are not including third party candidates, like Gary Johnson, in the debates?
When the Commission was organized in 1987, after the League of Women Voters pulled out as an organizer, complaining about collusion between the Republican and Democrat parties; Frank Fahrenkopf, the Republican co-chair said the Commission would not likely include third party candidates. Paul Kirk, the Democrat co-chair at the time, was even stronger in his opinion that third party candidates should be excluded.
The American people should be outraged that this “Commission” is controlling the debates when it is little more than an extension of the two major political parties.
The Commission rules state that for a third party candidate to qualify to be on the debate stage, they must score at least 15% in five major polls. A number of people have pointed out that is simply a formula to keep a rising third party candidate off the stage.
Not every third party candidate should be on the stage. Jill Stein of the Green Party shouldn’t be. Darryl Castle of the Constitution Party should not be. Vermin Supreme should not be, though if he were on the stage, the debates would be a lot more fun to watch.
But Gary Johnson should be on that stage. The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in all 50 states. It is an alternative that is available to the entire nation.
Third party candidates have sued multiple times to get on the stage. Those lawsuits have all been dismissed, mostly on jurisdictional grounds. The law is not going to get Gary Johnson on the debates stage. Only public demand will.
The most fundamental aspect of liberty is the right to decide issues on your own. Liberty thrives in the free market of ideas, where different ideas are allowed to compete and the best idea wins. In a year when voters are extremely dissatisfied with the choices offered by the two major parties, a third party should be given the chance to compete with the Republican and Democrat.
This is not an endorsement of Gary Johnson for President. So far, none of the major or minor candidates for President has made the case that they should be President. In 2016, so far, the choices are not great. But the best chance America has is if they hear competing visions for the future, instead of the kindergarten level banter that is flowing between the two major candidates.
Put Gary Johnson on the stage and let him debate!