Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Third parties and the great debate

When we think about the presidential race, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are of course, the forerunners. However, there may be a dark horse amongst the candidates. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson has garnered a lot of attention of late and many voters would like to hear more from the New Mexico governor. Johnson’s sudden surge in support and popularity poses the question: Should we let Gary debate?
According to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), presidential candidates need to poll at at least 15% nationally in order to debate. The 15% threshold was put in place because it would be “inclusive to invite those candidates considered to be the leading candidates” without excluding those candidates who don’t have as extensive followings.
Johnson has been doing well in the polls recently. On September 14th, he polled at 13% among 960 voters in a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University. Following the poll, a Politico article, “Gary Johnson cuts into Clinton’s lead,” stated that the amount of people Johnson has “pulled” from Trump and Clinton are more or less the same; however, the candidate is trying to gain recognition in the western states. This is clear as Johnson has managed to reach above 20% in the polls in certain states such as Utah (23%) and New Mexico (25%), his own state. About a third of his support comes from these western states, and such a following has allowed him to poll 10% nationally, just 5% shy of what he needs.
Regardless of his polling, Johnson should be given the chance to debate. Since Clinton and Trump were chosen as the nominees for their respective parties, there has been a large group of people expressing their disappointment with both candidates. Clinton’s trustworthiness and Trump’s questionable racist comments have led many people to seek a third party candidate that could make the U.S. run a little more smoothly for the next four years.
Whenever a political issue is brought to light there always seems to a view that is “leftist” and “rightist.” As a libertarian, Johnson can call himself neither a leftist nor a rightist, and that maybe just what the public needs. Yes, a voter should be aware of how he or she feels about certain issues, but for many voters it is often difficult to describe their views as Republican or Democrat. That’s where Johnson comes in.
A third party view on issues of the economy, right to life, and foreign affairs along with an answer to “Do black lives matter or do all lives matter” would be beneficial for voters. If voters are being tasked with choosing the best candidate as their next president, they should be able to do so by surveying outside of just a Republican or Democratic platform. Johnson may have a perspective that would open voters’ eyes to a new way of looking at issues.
Though Johnson does not quite meet the threshold, there is no reason why his voice should not be heard. The votes and rallies of citizens all across the country allow their voices to be heard, so why should Johnson be exempt from doing the same?

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Third parties and the great debate