It appears that the Commission on Presidential Debates is preparing to include Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. The commission has told the universities hosting the debates to be prepared for three people.
“With [former Gov.] Gary Johnson polling in some places more than double digits, they might have, some of our production people may have said, ‘Just in case, you need to plan out what that might look like,’” Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair and former Bill Clinton White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry told POLITICO. “We won’t know the number of invitations we extend until mid-September.”
To participate in one of the four general-election debates (three for president, one for vice president), candidates must be eligible for the presidency and “appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College,” the commission announced last year. They also must have a level of support nationally of at least 15 percent as “determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.”
The only candidate close to the 15 percent mark is Gary Johnson. According to the Real Clear Politics voting average, Johnson has 8.6 percent.
Still, the debate commission should go further and drop the 15 percent requirement entirely, and not just for this election. Any presidential candidate who gets on enough state ballots to reach 270 electoral votes should be allowed to debate.
One of the things we must do this year if the American republic is to survive is smash the two-party system. Both major parties have become too ideologically polarized and have resorted to demagoguery to win elective office.
When Americans see their political opponents as the enemy, that is a threat to liberty. It’s easy to support taking away the rights of someone we see as “the other.” Just ask American Muslims, the LGBT community, African Americans and other minorities who have been robbed of their freedom.
A multi-party system would force a new political dynamic, based upon cooperation rather than “winner-take-all.” For example, what if no presidential candidate can get 270 electoral votes? Instead of taking a chance in the House of Representatives, it’s not inconceivable that candidates might instead try to cut a deal.
There will need to be some major electoral reforms before America can truly be a multi-party republic, but a strong third-party showing for president this year can begin the process. Allowing Gary Johnson, along with Green Party nominee Jill Stein and others, to debate Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is a good start.