Mitt Romney and Barack Obama took the stage Wednesday night at the 2012 election cycle's first presidential debate, and they made it clear beforehand: libertarian candidate Gary Johnson ain't invited.
In response, Johnson actually filed an antitrust lawsuit charging the RNC and DNC with conspiring in restraint of trade to exclude the consideration of third-party candidates in these nationally televised exchanges. No one knows what will come of the lawsuit, and I'm still not sure whether to laugh at the Libertarian Party or laugh with them.
The antitrust suit is ... an interesting decision. Either way, here are the top five reasons Gary Johnson should be allowed to participate because of, you know, equality and stuff.
1. George Washington warned us about restrictive political parties in his Farewell Address. "I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State," said Washington. "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension ... is itself a frightful despotism." In other words, he was afraid that political parties would turn into vengeful monsters seeking to suppress competition rather than welcome new ideas. I'm sure Republicans want to hide Johnson's glowing gubernatorial record, and, likewise, I'm sure Democrats want to stop Johnson from telling liberal voters about Obama's medical marijuana raids, undocumented immigrant deportations, and huge corporate fundraisers.
2. Johnson will be electable when people are given the opportunity to understand his stances. Third-party candidates don't poll well unless they're given a chance to debate. For instance, the Libertarian Party candidate and Independent candidate received a combined total of only 0.96 percent in 2008. In 2004, the number was even lower at 0.70 percent. So, it's really no coincidence that only successful third-party bid in modern times came when the candidate was allowed to participate in the presidential debates. Ross Perot took the stage with Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush and defined his campaign as one that came "from the people." He received 18.9 percent of the popular vote, a record theretofore unheard of (with the exception of Teddy Roosevelt).
3. Johnson has plenty of political leadership experience. He was the sitting governor of New Mexico, a state that covers an area larger than the entire country of Italy. His record includes vetoing 47 percent of legislation introduced throughout his first six months in office and leaving taxpayers a $1 billion surplus. If Romney's four years as governor qualify him for president, why won't Johnson's eight years as governor get him into a debate?
4. Voters are losing faith in the two-party system. Both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee were caught this year rigging the results of voice votes that hadn't yet been taken. It's not a smart time for either party to play off this election as 'the left vs. the right.' We're beginning to feel a little like the election is really about 'the government vs. the people.' Philips Electronics already dropped its sponsorship of the upcoming debates after deciding to distance itself from these "partisan politics." Are voters next?
5. Republicans will isolate its key conservative-libertarian base by ignoring an important figure in the growing liberty movement. Like Senator Jim DeMint told Fox News in January, "The debate in the Republican Party needs to be between libertarians and conservatives. That's what our party needs to be about." And let's not forget another famous Republican's words. "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism," explained Ronald Reagan. "Libertarianism and conservatism are travelling the same path."
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