We are now only weeks away from the first debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Many see these debates as a possibly epic moment of two ideologies for the future of the U.S clashing in entertaining fashion, it's the first real chance to address all the concerns to the masses, face to face, not over Twitter, a news segment or late night talk show. But many see this debate as something to get far less excited about.
It is very probable that these debates could follow the continuing and ever-growing pattern of ferocious divisiveness that this election seems to have opened up. The debates could quickly sink into a situation in which Clinton will be painted out to be a criminal and Trump a racist, name-calling will ensue and the issues will get lost in a broken record of the candidates hate of one another (which admittedly isn't unwarranted). In the end, the fear of many is that the debates will just be another spiral downward for the election and won't really be helpful.
But there is a component that many seem to have forgotten, which is that Republicans and Democrats aren't the only two choices. In a time when both candidates have historically low popularity, many are wondering if we need a third option. What many people don't realize is that this third option has already arrived, and is fighting fiercely for a spot in the debates. This person is Gary Johnson, former governor of Arizona and 2016 Libertarian nominee.
I won't go into great depth about all his political positions but what I will say is that Gary Johnson has been doing far better in these polls than any alternative party candidate in recent history. Right now with his VP pick, former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, Johnson is polling at around 10 percent nationwide. There are even areas where he is ahead of the other two candidates, such as with troops on active duty.
This is unprecedented for any candidate who is not part of one of the two parties, especially this late in the election, as his polls seem to be gaining strength rather than declining. A tenth of America is ready to vote for Johnson and he has fought adamantly over this summer for his right to participate in the debates. He has so far been denied because the policy for the debates currently does not accept anyone polling less than 15 percent nationwide. Johnson has only got above 15 in three states.
But the the commission that decides on this controversial number is controlled solely by Democrats and Republicans, pretty much giving them an unbeatable power in the political system made more unfair by the fact that 3rd party candidates need to get this 15 percent without the benefit of countless debates, sometimes starting a year before the elections happen. And they must gain support in a system in which Democrats and Republicans are constantly propped up by different media groups and coverage as well. This obviously has begun to annoy people, especially since polls show that more than half of the U.S. wants to see him on that stage come September 26.
In a race that has been full of twists and turns Gary Johnson may just be the next one, this is not necessarily an endorsement of everything Johnson stands for but I am fully willing to say that he should be given the opportunity to debate. In an election where many people feel cheated it could be a breath of fresh air to see someone who isn't dominated by a singular and increasingly one dimensional mindset of red or blue.
Many might be hesitant to throw another candidate into the mix, especially when third party candidates like Ralph Nader in 2000 are now known as largely responsible for taking away Democratic voters which caused the election to be so close and messy against Bush and Al Gore. But this is far different. Ralph Nader never even got 3% of the vote, Gary Johnson already is well on his way, currently convincing a tenth of the country he is the right man for the job. With such clear and growing support it would be wrong to whisk him away as an interruption to the election cycle simply because he isn't part of the red or blue battle and hasn't been sensationalized and meticulously obsessed over by the media like the other two candidates.
Why can someone like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Democrat Martin O' Malley get to be in multiple debates when they all never received even close to 5% in the polls while someone less than three months away from election day with a 10% polling average can't simply because of his political party? It seems clear that the voting system and representation isn't working right.
Obviously not every political group should be allowed to just throw a candidate up on stage but Johnson isn't just anybody. Even without the foundation normally given to candidates of the two main political parties he has somehow garnered massive support. The rule preventing anyone below 15% is meant to weed out candidates who aren't serious enough, but the problem is Gary Johnson's campaign is very serious, especially when compared to the circus act in past debates this year.
Gary Johnson may not shoot to number one in the polls simply because he gets on a debate card, but to deny him a legitimate chance to address the public and all those supporting him simply because he is not a Democrat or Republican seems unfair.
All this new support may simply be a reaction to the crazy and dissatisfying political year America is having, or it could be the first sign in a real change reaching our political system as more voters turn independent. Either way, for the first time in decades people are calling for a new option, so lets not turn our back on these calls.