Gary Johnson should be included in presidential debates (Opinion)
OPINION AND COMMENTARY
If you think the 2012 presidential race is a two-candidate affair, think again.
Gary Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian Party nominee, will be on at least 49 of the 50 state ballots, giving American voters a viable alternative to President Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Arguably more qualified to be president than Romney, who served only one term as governor of Massachusetts, Johnson has more executive experience than Romney and President Obama combined. In a recent Politico article, he described himself as socially accepting and fiscally responsible, a combination he has called the fastest growing demographic in the American electorate.
Johnson supporters are mounting a serious, sustained effort to have him included in the presidential debates, and a July 23 U.S. News & World Report story indicated that they are having some success. Janet Brown from the Commission on Presidential Debates told the magazine that he may appear in the debates. Johnson meets two of the three standards – constitutional eligibility and appearing on enough state ballots to win 270 electoral votes – but the third standard is the sticking point.
The commission requires that a candidate reach an average of at least 15 percent in five national polls to be included, but it makes no mention of polls that omit Johnson’s name as a candidate. The Johnson campaign got some very good news in a recent Libertarian Action Super PAC poll, showing him with 19 percent when pitted against Obama. That poll, however, did not include Romney as an alternative. Johnson supporters say this is no different than their man being left out of polls that frame Romney as Obama’s only serious challenger. It would be interesting to see how Johnson fared against Romney with Obama left out of the mix. But it would be even more interesting – and more relevant – if all major polling organizations began including Johnson’s name in their surveys.
The presidential debate schedule is as follows: Oct. 3 in Denver; Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y.; and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla. The vice presidential debate will be Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky.
Also rallying to Johnson’s cause is former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who first sought the GOP 2012 nomination and was leading the Americans Elect process before that organization abruptly shut down earlier this year. In a statement released earlier this month, Roemer said, “Gary Johnson is a very successful two-term governor who has currently met the requirement of being on the ballot in enough states to be elected President. He must be in the presidential debates.” Johnson also has received support from former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
If polling organizations were to include Johnson’s name in their polls, and media outlets were to report the results, more people would begin researching the Johnson campaign and find they agreed with him on most issues. But because Johnson is not as wealthy as 1992 third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot, who at one point led in polls pitting him against then-incumbent George H.W. Bush and then-Democratic challenger Bill Clinton, he is unable to buy his way into media coverage. It is this monetary elitism by the American press corps and polling organizations that, more than anything else, is preventing dialogue on how the United States can best move forward in these times of economic despair and social unrest.
Gallup is advising the presidential debate commission, and it is open to suggestions from the electorate. To contact the Gallup and request that Johnson be included in their polling, as well as the debates, please use this feedback form provided on the organization’s website.
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SOURCES LINKED TO IN TEXT
FULL DISCLOSURE: The author of this report has donated $25 to Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.
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