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It's unfair Gary Johnson isn't part of the Presidential Debates

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    What are the odds Gary Johnson's national average polling numbers of 7.2% would surge if he were allowed into the presidential debates, with Clinton and Trump? Imagine if he were on the stage for the first debate, with several weeks to go. A third option you say? A wildcard ? I thoroughly dislike the other two candidates, and you are telling me there is a third option? And on and on. I bet his numbers would shoot way past the necessary 15% needed to get into the debates. That's the ironic part of the game. Can't play if no one knows your name, and they won't, unless the media and the debate committee allows for that to happen.

    I think it's wildly unfair to have a system so stacked against a 3rd party candidate, especially when the 2 candidates we have to chose from are more unpopular than any duo in modern history. More than HALF the country dislikes both. We need election reform in the worst kind of way.

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    I don't necessarily disagree with you that the system is set up in a way that makes it hard for alternative options to have their voices heard, but that isn't going to change by allowing one or two more people on the debate stage.

    We've basically had a two party system for our entire Republic and anytime another option comes along it only winds up helping one party over the other without actually changing the system. An alternative option came about when the Republican Party came to be in the mid 1800's and eventually pushed out the Whigs. What many people don't talk about is the Republican Party played the spoiler and ensured the Democratic Party stayed in power longer because they split the ticket with the Whigs. The same thing happened when the Democratic Party split in the 1960's, which ensured Republican dominance for quite some time after that.

    This election would be no different. Trump or Clinton is going to win. That is an incontrovertible fact. The only thing a third party can do is play spoiler.


    There's also no third party representation in Congress, so it's not entirely clear how a third party President could ever get anything done. Congress still holds the vast majority of power in the country, which far too many people often seem to forget.

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    JaredS Wrote:

    I don't necessarily disagree with you that the system is set up in a way that makes it hard for alternative options to have their voices heard, but that isn't going to change by allowing one or two more people on the debate stage.

    Did you mean hard, or virtually impossible?

    And I disagree. It very well could change. I think the country is primed for a change in how we elect candidates, and how many options we are 'allowed' to have. It's all well and good to be cool with Johnson (and others) not being allowed to be part of the national debate conversation, if you find yourself in the Clinton or Trump camp. But what about the millions of us that do not? I would argue the 'independent' or 'anti-Trump/Clinton' crowd is very large, and we honestly don't know exactly just how big it is right now. Would you be wholly surprised if it were 1/3 of the country? I think that's a fair guesstimate. I have heard numbers saying as much. I'll see if I can substantiate that though..

    JaredS Wrote:

    There's also no third party representation in Congress, so it's not entirely clear how a third party President could ever get anything done. Congress still holds the vast majority of power in the country, which far too many people often seem to forget.

    I don't think having a Libertarian in the White House would make Congress automatically incompatible with that mindset, or set of values. Fiscally conservative and socially liberal? Actually, I am pained to think of a better set of 'working both sides of the aisle' skill sets these days. Both Clinton and Trump would be devisive and more of the same. Someone like Gary could be just what we need.

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    bryce28 Wrote:
    JaredS Wrote:

    I don't necessarily disagree with you that the system is set up in a way that makes it hard for alternative options to have their voices heard, but that isn't going to change by allowing one or two more people on the debate stage.

    Did you mean hard, or virtually impossible?

    And I disagree. It very well could change. I think the country is primed for a change in how we elect candidates, and how many options we are 'allowed' to have. It's all well and good to be cool with Johnson (and others) not being allowed to be part of the national debate conversation, if you find yourself in the Clinton or Trump camp. But what about the millions of us that do not? I would argue the 'independent' or 'anti-Trump/Clinton' crowd is very large, and we honestly don't know exactly just how big it is right now. Would you be wholly surprised if it were 1/3 of the country? I think that's a fair guesstimate. I have heard numbers saying as much. I'll see if I can substantiate that though..

    I mean virtually impossible. Actually I lean more towards wholly impossible and less towards virtually impossible.

    The country isn't close to being primed for a change in how we elect candidates because we aren't a parliamentary democracy like the vast majority of democracies out there. The way our Constitution is written basically guarantees that we will continue to have a two party system because unlike a parliamentary system that has various political parties who must form a coalition who then elect a Prime Minister, we have a tripartite that gives the three branches of government different powers and the ability to be a check on the others.

    If the President doesn't like what Congress does then he (or she) can overrule them unless he (or she) is then overruled in return by 2/3's of both legislative branches. If the Courts don't like what the Executive or Legislative branches do then they can overrule them, which can then only be overturned by a new Constitutional Amendment. If the Legislative doesn't like what the Courts are doing then they can impeach judges and remove them from office.

    That is wholly different than Parliamentary Democracy and why a viable third, fourth, or fifth party will never take hold in this country until we have a brand new and completely different Constitution.

    It's also important to remind ourselves that we are a country of 320 million people who have 320 million different opinions. That's why the vast majority of legislating is done at the local and state levels. Europe consists of roughly fifty countries. Canada only has 35 million people. America is an entirely different beast.

    bryce28 Wrote:

    JaredS Wrote: There's also no third party representation in Congress, so it's not entirely clear how a third party President could ever get anything done. Congress still holds the vast majority of power in the country, which far too many people often seem to forget.

    I don't think having a Libertarian in the White House would make Congress automatically incompatible with that mindset, or set of values. Fiscally conservative and socially liberal? Actually, I am pained to think of a better set of 'working both sides of the aisle' skill sets these days. Both Clinton and Trump would be devisive and more of the same. Someone like Gary could be just what we need.

    I have a hard time believing that Gary Johnson is the answer to all of our nations ills. He is far from fiscally conservative and a quick look at his record shows that he is all over the place on social issues.

    The President just doesn't have that much power when it comes to what the Legislature would, could, or will do. Their main power when it comes to actual legislation is the veto and the bully pulpit. They have far more power with military matters, which is why I am terrified of a Donald Trump Presidency. Do you want your protest vote to wind up giving a completely unqualified person the keys to our nuclear weapons?

    A vote for Gary Johnson on the right or Jill Stein on the left is a waste of time and a waste of a vote. It just is.

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    JaredS Wrote:
    Do you want your protest vote to wind up giving a completely unqualified person the keys to our nuclear weapons?

    A vote for Gary Johnson on the right or Jill Stein on the left is a waste of time and a waste of a vote. It just is.

    Lots to respond to here. But I'll start with these first two comments. I have heard that before, the 'protest vote', as if you aren't for Hilary and you don't vote for her, regardless of what you think of her, then you are responsible for voting in Trump. It wouldn't be a 'protest vote' if Johnson was on the debate stage, and given the same amount of serious media attention as the other two.

    Of course, this post is essentially about complaining about the current structure of the presidential election system, and how unfair it is to anyone without a D or R beside their name.

    I don't know anyone in my circle of friends and family that is for Hilary or Trump. All that I can say is that everyone I know or have talked to (dozens and dozens over the many months) that are actually voting are doing so because they are so against the other candidate, that they feel compelled to vote against him/her, regardless of if they actually like them or not. And that's almost the uniform argument I hear in the media, on podcasts, the radio, and everywhere really, as well. I hear very little impassioned cries for Hilary or Trump, from people I consider seriously anyways. Always just anti-Trump/Clinton stuff. It happens, but it's not the norm. "Sure maybe you don't like Hilary, but Trump is insane!" .. And on and on.

    I would say that's a failed system, built perpetually on the idiom of taking the lesser of two evils approach. No thanks.

    I'm not saying necessarily that Gary Johnson is the answer to all the United States' ills. But I am saying that he could be a serious candidate, with this election cycle especially.

    I do fail to understand what parliamentary democracy has to do with allowing a 3rd party candidate onto the debate stage as well. I am no history buff, but we have done it before. And we can do it again. Debate rules get updated all the time. They just got harsher on allowing 3rd party candidates in, for example. They are fluid, hardly concrete at all.

    It's not like its in the constitution that we are a 2 party system country. In fact, I challenge you to quote the part of the constitution that's for a 2 party system at all, as well as for factions in general. In truth, I have heard several citings from the founders that are explicitly against factioned government.

    Are you saying that we are only ever allowed Republicans and Democrats as choice party elects in this country until the end of the United States as we know it? Then why do we even allow third party systems to form in the first place?

    I think we are totally capable of having more than 2 choices. But, both the Democrats and the Republicans would much rather keep the game rigged against outsiders. They would rather the devil they know (the current setup of a 50/50 chance) then the free-for-all system I would rather see.

    Also, what do you mean by the whole checks and balances not working if a non-dem or gop POTUS is in office? I'm confused. Why would it matter if they were Libertarian, or Independent, or whatever.. the president would have the same abilities regardless of what party they subscribe to.

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    Also, I live in Texas. So a vote for Hilary is a protest vote. :-P Same can be said for so many states. Why do you think so many people don't vote? They feel like it doesn't matter. Gerrymandering, only 2 choices, electoral colleges instead of popular vote winning... it's an entirely rigged affair, assuring the outcome to only ever be a Democrat or Republican.

    But it's entirely within our power to change this, step by step, if we really wanted to. A great start would be taking a 3rd candidate seriously.

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    bryce28 Wrote:
    JaredS Wrote:
    Do you want your protest vote to wind up giving a completely unqualified person the keys to our nuclear weapons?

    A vote for Gary Johnson on the right or Jill Stein on the left is a waste of time and a waste of a vote. It just is.

    Lots to respond to here. But I'll start with these first two comments. I have heard that before, the 'protest vote', as if you aren't for Hilary and you don't vote for her, regardless of what you think of her, then you are responsible for voting in Trump. It wouldn't be a 'protest vote' if Johnson was on the debate stage, and given the same amount of serious media attention as the other two.

    Of course, this post is essentially about complaining about the current structure of the presidential election system, and how unfair it is to anyone without a D or R beside their name.

    I don't know anyone in my circle of friends and family that is for Hilary or Trump. All that I can say is that everyone I know or have talked to (dozens and dozens over the many months) that are actually voting are doing so because they are so against the other candidate, that they feel compelled to vote against him/her, regardless of if they actually like them or not. And that's almost the uniform argument I hear in the media, on podcasts, the radio, and everywhere really, as well. I hear very little impassioned cries for Hilary or Trump, from people I consider seriously anyways. Always just anti-Trump/Clinton stuff. It happens, but it's not the norm. "Sure maybe you don't like Hilary, but Trump is insane!" .. And on and on.

    I would say that's a failed system, built perpetually on the idiom of taking the lesser of two evils approach. No thanks.

    I'm not saying necessarily that Gary Johnson is the answer to all the United States' ills. But I am saying that he could be a serious candidate, with this election cycle especially.

    You didn't respond to my statement though. Is a protest vote, in the current structure we now have, worth giving Donald Trump the keys to the nuclear codes?

    Look. I get it. Many people are angry. I have plenty of opinions why (certain) people are angry - the end of Jim Crow, racial integration, white people quickly becoming a plurality and not a majority, etc.-, but that's for another thread. But giving the keys to the White House and our nuclear codes to an entirely unqualified racist misogynist is not the answer to their anger.

    And Gary Johnson nor Jill Stein are serious candidates. Ross Perot was a serious candidate. Ralph Nader was not. The same goes with Johnson and Stein. They are "we're angry" candidates and not serious candidates for the highest office in the land.

    bryce28 Wrote: I do fail to understand what parliamentary democracy has to do with allowing a 3rd party candidate onto the debate stage as well. I am no history buff, but we have done it before. And we can do it again. Debate rules get updated all the time. They just got harsher on allowing 3rd party candidates in, for example. They are fluid, hardly concrete at all.

    I am a history buff. Not just American history, but world history.

    Ross Perot was on the debate stage because he was polling high enough to get on the debate stage. Ralph Nader wasn't invited on to the debate stage because he wasn't.

    The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates has set the rules on debates since 1988.

    And hell - Presidential debates are fairly new. Everyone likes to hearken back to the Lincoln-Douglass debates, but that was over a Senate seat in Illinois. The first actual Presidential debate was in 1960. And there wasn't another one until 1976.

    bryce28 Wrote: It's not like its in the constitution that we are a 2 party system country. In fact, I challenge you to quote the part of the constitution that's for a 2 party system at all, as well as for factions in general. In truth, I have heard several citings from the founders that are explicitly against factioned government.

    I agree that there is no verbiage in the Constitution that says we are a two party system, but we have been a two party system since the 1800 election between Jefferson and Adams.

    "The Founders" is a term thrown about like they are a monolith. Jefferson and Adams were "Founders." So were Franklin, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Madison, and many others. These "Founders" also institutionalized slavery and only let white, male land owners vote.

    bryce28 Wrote: Are you saying that we are only ever allowed Republicans and Democrats as choice party elects in this country until the end of the United States as we know it? Then why do we even allow third party systems to form in the first place?

    I think we are totally capable of having more than 2 choices. But, both the Democrats and the Republicans would much rather keep the game rigged against outsiders. They would rather the devil they know (the current setup of a 50/50 chance) then the free-for-all system I would rather see.

    No. I'm not saying that whatsoever. What I am saying is that the way the Constitution is set up makes it nearly impossible for a person who isn't part of a major party to get the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the Presidency.

    bryce28 Wrote: Also, what do you mean by the whole checks and balances not working if a non-dem or gop POTUS is in office? I'm confused. Why would it matter if they were Libertarian, or Independent, or whatever.. the president would have the same abilities regardless of what party they subscribe to.

    That isn't remotely what I said. What I said is that a President who isn't a part of a major political party doesn't have ability to lean on members of Congress to get their priorities passed.

    Here's a hypothetical - Gary Johnson is elected. The House stays in Republican hands because of the 2010 gerrymandering. The Senate switches to Democratic hands. President Johnson submits his proposed budget.

    The Republican House balks because it doesn't increase military spending and doesn't defund Planned Parenthood. The Democratic Senate balks because it doesn't decrease military spending enough and says that states can defund Obamacare. Do you honestly think a President Johnson can get enough people on both sides to get his budget passed?

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    :) Do you think Hilary will get more support from the GOP lot than Johnson? That's been one of the biggest hurdles of Obama's POTUS career; the GOP has stonewalled him every single chance they get, and they will do the same to Hilary, every single chance they get. So no, I don't think an independent would have worse luck with congress than a Democrat. In fact, I think it's entirely situational, but in this exact scenario, I think Gary would do better than Hilary with the current congressional members.

    As for your question about the protest vote:

    It doesn't sound like we will see eye to eye on this issue. I don't see the Libertarian or Independent party candidates as "we're angry" candidates. I see them as serious candidates. Johnson was a two term governor. That automatically gives him more authority to talk about how government operates over Trump. How can Johnson not be a serious candidate, but Donald Trump is?

    Sure there of course would be growing pains and it might take a cycle or two for a 3rd and potential 4th candidate to get taken seriously enough to actually win. But that doesn't mean we should be so pessimistic as to think it's a fool's errand to even think about it, let alone talk about it, and try to make it happen. It should happen. We deserve more choices. I fail to understand how more choices equals = a worse election process.

    Also, doesn't take a history buff to have an opinion on this, would you not agree with that? As you pointed out, debates are only 56 some odd years old. And the rules have continuously changed and been updated ever since. So why not allow another candidate or two in? If they are so inconsequential, what's the harm? If your D or R candidate is strong enough, they should not fear the "spoiler" effect. That only means that the 'outside' candidate is doing something for a certain demographic that the main 2 are not. That's important to have in this system, else we exclude voters that don't necessarily think straight down party lines (like millions of free thinking Americans).

    Also, I'm not throwing the founders around like it's gospel. I also dislike that. But it's far too convenient on the flip side to disregard anything that doesn't jive with your argument by discrediting thing from jump street. They owned slaves?! Nothing they said has any relevance anymore. ..That's a logical fallacy.


    I think you might be against this idea because you simply don't care for Johnson, and you seem to be a Hilary voter, at least in part because you fear Trump. Fair enough. But what if you take the personal attachments away? And assume that you would not vote for either the (R) or (D) candidate. That you equally fear and distrust and loathe both. But you absolutely love a candidate that you feel could have a real shot, if he or she were able to get the same chance as the other two? You are telling me there's no way you would not be FOR that becoming a reality?

    My argument is both for this election, and all the elections to come.

    7.2% could (and I think would) very likely turn into 15-20% overnight, if he were on the stage. Then he is extremely serious. And people are talking about him. Currently, only the very plugged in even have the slightest iota who he is, let alone that he is running. And he is still getting upwards of 10% without virtually any press whatsoever. Color me impressed. And I mention Johnson over Stein as he is the only of the two to have their name on every US State's voting ballot.

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    bryce28 Wrote: :) Do you think Hilary will get more support from the GOP lot than Johnson? That's been one of the biggest hurdles of Obama's POTUS career; the GOP has stonewalled him every single chance they get, and they will do the same to Hilary, every single chance they get. So no, I don't think an independent would have worse luck with congress than a Democrat. In fact, I think it's entirely situational, but in this exact scenario, I think Gary would do better than Hilary with the current congressional members.

    I hate to break it to you, but you are living in a fantasy land if you think a President Johnson would be able to bring together Democratic and Republican Senators and Congressmen and actually accomplish one single thing.

    As I've tried to explain - the separation of powers makes it very difficult for someone who isn't a member of a major political party to achieve any of their agenda in the national arena. That is why we have never had a President who wasn't a member of a major political party since George Washington.

    And the problem about "current Congressional members" is that "current" is fluid and always changing. The Senate will very likely flip to the Democrats in 2016 based off the sheer number of seats Republicans are defending, especially with a number of them in reliably blue states.

    bryce28 Wrote: It doesn't sound like we will see eye to eye on this issue. I don't see the Libertarian or Independent party candidates as "we're angry" candidates. I see them as serious candidates. Johnson was a two term governor. That automatically gives him more authority to talk about how government operates over Trump. How can Johnson not be a serious candidate, but Donald Trump is?

    Trump is a serious candidate because millions of people voted for him in the primaries. Millions of people did not vote for Johnson or Stein.

    Look - the nonprofit and independent Commission on Presidential Debates sets the conditions for who gets to participate in the nationally televised debates. Johnson nor Stein met those conditions.

    bryce28 Wrote: Sure there of course would be growing pains and it might take a cycle or two for a 3rd and potential 4th candidate to get taken seriously enough to actually win. But that doesn't mean we should be so pessimistic as to think it's a fool's errand to even think about it, let alone talk about it, and try to make it happen. It should happen. We deserve more choices. I fail to understand how more choices equals = a worse election process.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with pessimism; it has to do with realism and an understanding of how the Federal government operates.

    A 3rd or 4th Party candidate getting the 270 Electoral College votes (which, by the way, I am no big fan of) will be a herculean task that is all but impossible. Getting rid of the Electoral College is an entirely different discussion though since it would require a Constitutional Amendment.

    Show me how a 3rd or 4th Party candidate can get to 270 and maybe I'll change my position, but I warn you that you aren't going to be able to do that. Hence why I say that voting for a 3rd or 4th Party candidate to be President is wasting ones vote.

    I'm not disagreeing with you that we should have more choices at the national level, but our Constitution is not set up for that. It just isn't.

    bryce28 Wrote: Also, doesn't take a history buff to have an opinion on this, would you not agree with that? As you pointed out, debates are only 56 some odd years old. And the rules have continuously changed and been updated ever since. So why not allow another candidate or two in? If they are so inconsequential, what's the harm? If your D or R candidate is strong enough, they should not fear the "spoiler" effect. That only means that the 'outside' candidate is doing something for a certain demographic that the main 2 are not. That's important to have in this system, else we exclude voters that don't necessarily think straight down party lines (like millions of free thinking Americans).

    Another candidate or two are allowed in if they meet the threshold set by the nonpartisan commission that sets the rules. The D or R candidates have nothing to do with those rules. And the rules are set up that way so the debates aren't a clown show with 25 people clamoring to be the loudest voice in the room.

    bryce28 Wrote: Also, I'm not throwing the founders around like it's gospel. I also dislike that. But it's far too convenient on the flip side to disregard anything that doesn't jive with your argument by discrediting thing from jump street. They owned slaves?! Nothing they said has any relevance anymore. ..That's a logical fallacy.

    Did I ever say that your argument isn't valid?

    The slave remark was because I can't stand it when anyone (not just you) talks about our "Founding Fathers" like there were a monolith. The 55 men who wrote our Constitution were 55 different human beings who debated and compromised to write our founding document. Many of the Founders loathed slavery more than anything while southern Founders refused to do anything unless they could keep their slaves.

    I also never said that nothing they said has any relevance anymore. There are many, many things I love about various founding fathers and things I loathe about many others.

    Accusing me of using a logical fallacy is a bit of a stretch. I haven't distorted anyone's opinions nor have I changed the subject (Red Herring/Strawman). All I said was that I don't like it when people talk about our Founders like there are a single entity and explained that they were human just like all of us.

    bryce28 Wrote: I think you might be against this idea because you simply don't care for Johnson, and you seem to be a Hilary voter, at least in part because you fear Trump. Fair enough. But what if you take the personal attachments away? And assume that you would not vote for either the (R) or (D) candidate. That you equally fear and distrust and loathe both. But you absolutely love a candidate that you feel could have a real shot, if he or she were able to get the same chance as the other two? You are telling me there's no way you would not be FOR that becoming a reality?

    My argument is both for this election, and all the elections to come.

    7.2% could (and I think would) very likely turn into 15-20% overnight, if he were on the stage. Then he is extremely serious. And people are talking about him. Currently, only the very plugged in even have the slightest iota who he is, let alone that he is running. And he is still getting upwards of 10% without virtually any press whatsoever. Color me impressed. And I mention Johnson over Stein as he is the only of the two to have their name on every US State's voting ballot.

    I think you're giving way (way) too much weight into how a debate may change someone's vote. If Johnson or Stein or any other candidate other than Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump were polling well enough to meet the standards set by the nonpartisan committee hosting the debates then I would have zero problem with them being on the debate stage.

    Gary Johnson has every right to run for President and anyone who wants to vote for him has every right to vote for him. What he doesn't have a right to do is dictate what the rules are to make the debate stage. If he doesn't like those rules then he should convince enough people that the rules should be changed.


    Let's say that Johnson made the debate stage and started polling at 25% overnight. Is that anywhere close where he would need to be to actually win the 270 Electoral College votes to win the Presidency? All that would do is split the Republican ticket even more and give Hillary Clinton a landslide victory in November because 99.99999% of self described Democrats would ever vote for someone like Johnson. The end result would be the exact opposite of what you wanted - a Democratic President and a super majority of Democratic legislatures.

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    Yikes. I didn't mean for this to turn into .. whatever this is. If we are to continue this conversation, and not slide completely off the rails, perhaps we should keep replies a bit shorter, as I can't respond to everything again. I'll just end up writing another 500-1000 words. And perhaps a tad more civil? I have so far meant no disrespect.

    Gary Johnson was a Republican officially from 1995-2003, when he was a two term governor of New Mexico. So I think he has the credentials to talk to the Republican base. And the fact that he is socially more liberal than most Republicans makes him more qualified to entering a serious discussion of social issues, than say a man boy like Donald Trump.

    I think you know what I meant by Gary being more qualified than Trump. I obviously realize Trump has millions of followers.

    .... nothing I say will turn this into a more productive conversation, unless someone else jumps in here. I think I stated my opinion best at the very beginning.