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Nancy Smith

Let Gary Johnson Join the Debate

September 8, 2016 - 6:00am
Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson

Who is the Commission on Presidential Debates to decide which presidential candidates the American people get to see in a televised debate? I ask you.

These are the folks who make all the rules for debates and have since 1987.

In case you don't know much about it, the nonprofit, "nonpartisan," 501(c)(3) corporation was established behind closed doors by the two majority parties. 

So that makes the CPD nonpartisan only if you're talking about Republicans and Democrats, whose interests it protects. 

Any other party doesn't get the time of day.

I Beg to DifferAnother year, probably nobody notices. But in 2016, with both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates disliked at historic levels and a rising share of political independents frustrated with the two major parties, this is the year a third-party candidate like Libertarian Gary Johnson deserves a closer look.

Unfortunately, the not-so-nopartisan CPD isn't flexible enough to break its rules. Even in the interest of liberty and true democracy.

When the Commission was organized in 1987, after the League of Women Voters complained of collusion between the Republican and Democratic parties and pulled out as an organizer, Frank Fahrenkopf, the Republican co-chair said the Commission would not likely include third party candidates. Paul Kirk, the Democratic co-chair at the time, was even stronger in his opinion that third-party candidates should be excluded.

So here we are today with the Commission's etched-in-stone criteria and no room at the inn for former New Mexico governor Johnson.

The criteria announced by the CPD require a 15 percent average in five pre-selected polls. Never mind that the weight of support for Johnson's inclusion -- 62 percent in this recent Quinnipiac poll), or that Johnson is polling over 15 percent in 15 states and over 10 percent in 42 states, or that major newspapers like the Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune, Washington Examiner and Richmond Times-Dispatch are calling for him to debate with Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

Ask the CPD why a 15 percent average. Why not 14 percent? Why not 18 percent? How did 15 percent get to be the magic number? Go ahead, ask them. I'm telling you, no one can tell you where it came from.

The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in all 50 states. For that reason, Gary Johnson should be on that debate stage because he is an alternative available to the entire nation.

I am not endorsing Gary Johnson here. All I'm saying is, as I learned American history, the most fundamental aspect of liberty in the U.S. Constitution is the right to decide issues on your own.

How does liberty thrive? As the Washington Examiner pointed out in its editorial, it thrives only "in the free market of ideas, where different ideas are allowed to compete and the best idea wins." 
The best chance America has in a year like this one, when so many Americans say confidence in our leaders is at rock bottom,  is if they hear competing visions for the future, not the back-and-forth nonsense flying between the two major candidates day after day, and no doubt on the debate stage.

Having said all this, if Johnson is on the eligibility cusp, then the CPD may exercise subjectivity in making a determination whether to include him.  They are an entity apart. They can interpret the criteria in all kinds of ways. 

In the meantime, if the people want Johnson in, they might try signing the Libertarian Party's petition to let him debate Sept. 26 at Hofstra University, and at the three debates that follow. I'm for that. In 2012, when Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney, a Reason-Rupe poll found 48 percent of Americans said they would be willing to vote for a candidate who described him or herself as "conservative on economic issues" and also "liberal on social issues," which is how Gary Johnson self-describes. I doubt that answer would change much today.

Let's at least hear what Johnson has to say.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


We don't need 2 in the debate that have no clue in foreign matters. Yesterday Johnson didn't even know what Allepo was about........ And as Trump showed last night he has no clue, plan either........ And did anyone add up to the cost of his rantings?.... just how does he pay for it cutting taxes on the rich, corporations, etc?..... the answer is more massive debt. And many of you want to vote for that fool? ?.......... it says a lot about you if you do. If you want to fire those responsable for the bad ecomomy, fire the repubs that have caused it.

This is more an issue about the RULES, that exclude 3rd Party Candidates. THAT IS THE GENUINE PROBLEM! No, I don't care much for Gary Johnson - and his polling really doesn't justify putting him in the middle of the Presently Scheduled debates - Although it might be an advantage for BOTH of the other candidates (perhaps a bit more time to 'conjure' responses while Johnson flaps his jaw). Somehow, I cannot envision a SERIOUS third party. It would have to appeal to ALL Independents to gain a foothold. Not gonna happen....

So Nancy, I guess that you yourself, has written the CPD with your argument? I'd love to read a copy! But then, all you can attempt is to agitate others without standing on your own! GO TRUMP!!

Gary Johnson was asked by an interviewer what he would do about Aleppo. He responded, and I quote, "what is Aleppo?" Any candidate who has no clue as to the importance of Aleppo in the Syrian mess has no business being a candidate for President of the United States just as no candidate who has no idea what the nuclear triad is should be considered to be a serious candidate. Sadly, these know nothing candidates have many know nothing voters supporting them.

I've listened to Gary Johnson, he's a nut case. He's a combination of Hillary and Bernie! His ideas would turn the USA into smoking rubble.


Dump the two-party dictatorship! Call or write the media now to urge Gary Johnson's inclusion in the debates!

Endorsements for Gary Johnson's inclusion in the debates has included: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Mitt Romney, Boston Herald Editorial Board, Washington Times, Orange County Register, Wall Street Journal, Hufffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Watereloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Forbes, Newsweek, The Hill, Christian Science Monitor, Sunshine State News, National Review, Post and Courier, and Let Gary Johnson debate! Visit #LetGaryDebate Google: “Gary Johnson”

This has been the most unfair election thus far. Media has coddled Hillary and lied about Trump. He is not a monster the media is making him, but Hillary is the monster that they are protecting. I cannot see how adding another anti-Trump candidate, with about as much a chance as a snowball in hell, take the stage to echo what the media has been lying about for the past year.

He is way too low in the polls to be taken seriously.

Washington Times: Gary Johnson receives virtually no coverage from networks A startling new analysis of major network news coverage from January to August conducted by the Media Research Center reveals all. . GOP nominee Donald Trump got 1,773 minutes of coverage, Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton got 1,020 minutes. And Mr. Johnson? “Thus far in 2016, Johnson has received a mere 11 seconds of evening news coverage — just a single sentence on the NBC Nightly News in May,” says Mr. Noyes. “That means Clinton has received more than 5,000 times more coverage than Johnson, while Donald Trump garnered nearly 10,000 times more evening news airtime than his Libertarian challenger.” “Without significant media coverage, most voters probably won’t even consider the alternative candidates of 2016, no matter how dissatisfied they are with the two major party nominees.” Let Gary debate! #LetGaryDebate

Quit whining about the rules. If you don't like the rules then change the damn rules!

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. Let Gary Johnson debate! Google: "Gary Johnson"

By the way, a USA Today poll taken after Quinnipiac showed that 76% of respondents wanted third-parties in the debates.

Right on, Nancy. Who appointed these people anyway? Democrats and Republicans! So when only Democrats and Republicans (there are no Independents on the commission) get to choose who is worthy of debating, it's no surprise that only Democrats and Republicans get chosen. I tweeted out your story.

Gary Johnson should have the chance to debate. If the commission does not allow all candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to win, to debate, then they are condoning a system akin to the Communist Party. The United States of America deserves better.

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith


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