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Gary Johnson fights Commission on Presidential Debates for third party inclusion

The first presidential debates will be held at Denver University this Wednesday, bringing the final stretch of the race into the spotlight in Colorado.

The narrative of this campaign has been long established. The parameters of the debate is already known. You’ll only hear a reiteration of talking points and campaign promises on that stage, comfortably free from any third party challengers.


All debates this year (and every debate for the past two decades) has been hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which is currently headed by former RNC chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Clinton’s former press secretary — though it’s reportedly a nonpartisan, non-profit corporation.

And the CDP is nonpartisan — if by nonpartisan you mean they don’t discriminate against either Republicans or Democrats; they’ve teamed up to keep out third parties.

A Gallup poll released on Sept. 12, 2012, asked, “do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people, or do they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed?”

The poll revealed 46 percent of Americans feel that a major third party is needed — yet no third party candidates participate in the debates. Has this always been that way?

No. Before 1987, the League of Women Voters moderated the presidential debates and featured numerous third party candidates.

That all changed when the two major parties announced plans to sponsor their own series of debates. The Republicans and Democrats set up a commission, thanked the League for all they’d done, and urged them to step aside.

Read League of Women Voters President Nancy M. Neuman’s statement on Oct. 3, 1988, where she announced the League of Women Voters “have no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public,” and would no longer be a part of the debates due to the CPD. The statement is chilling.

Since the CDP took over, only one third party candidate, Ross Perot, was invited to participate in the debate by the Commission in 1992. After Perot, the CDP enacted the now infamous 15 percent requirement for a candidate to appear in the presidential debate that has prevented a third party candidate from participating ever since.

On Aug. 20, 2012, Gov. Gary Johnson, Libertarian party presidential nominee, sent a letter to the CPD. The letter argued that any contending candidate (a candidate who has the mathematical chance to win, being on all 50 states’ ballots) should not be excluded from the debates.


“In all due respect,” Johnson’s letter reads, “it is not the proper role of an nonelected, private and tax-exempt organization to narrow the voters’ choices to only the two major party candidates – which is the net effect of your arbitrary polling requirement.”

Gary Johnson meets all of the Constitutional requirements to be president, he is a two term governor with more executive experience than Obama, Biden, Romney and Ryan combined — yet he’s not allowed into the debate.

Is it because Gary Johnson has radical views? The Libertarian party is both fiscally responsible and socially accepting — I’d say the same can be said about the majority of the American population.

Is this radical? Not ideologically, but if the question is whether Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party is a stark alternative to Republicans and Democrats, the answer is unequivocally yes.

The American people deserve an alternative to the Democrats’ and Republicans’ stimulus’s, subsidies, bailouts and crony capitalism.

The presidential debate needs a voice raised in opposition to Republicans’ and Democrats’ War on Terror, NDAA, warrantless data mining, War on Drugs and global interventionism.

I believe Gary Johnson is that voice — all he needs now is a spot in the debate.

There is a way you and I can fix this monopoly that the two parties have on the presidential debates: The polls.

Help Johnson get the 15 percent he needs to be included in future debates. Even if you aren’t going to vote for Johnson this November, there’s no harm in telling a telephone pollster your vote is for Gary Johnson.

Let’s expand the parameters of the debate and give America a real choice this election rather than the lesser of two evils. I choose no evil. I choose Gary Johnson.

Editorial Editor Kevin Jensen is a senior English major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at or on Twitter @kevinrjensen.

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