In the upcoming 2012 elections, there are multiple third-party candidates who are virtually unknown among a large portion of the electorate.
Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and Virgil Goode will all be included on the ballot in Virginia along with Romney and Obama.
For those who have kept up with the general election coverage, these third-party candidates may sound familiar, but for a majority of students and the population at large, these names won’t even register.
People often realize they share many views with a candidate not from the two main parties and personally, I found many of my views align with Green Party candidate Jill Stein, from the website Isidewith.com.
The site asks you for your position on a variety of issues and ranks candidates based on how well your views align with theirs.
I had not heard of Jill Stein or Virgil Goode until recently, mostly due to the fact of how little coverage is given to third parties.
Not only do they receive little to no air time in the media, but they are shunned from debates.
Something else I recently learned: presidential debates are administered and run by a private entity, the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The CPD is not an elected body, but rather an organization which was created by the Democratic and Republican parties in 1988 after the League of Women Voters resigned as hosts.
This move came after the campaigns of George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis collaborated and basically set conditions such as who would serve as panelists, who could sit in the audience, and disallowed follow up questions.
Currently, the CPD is headed by two men, Frank Fahrenkopf and Paul Kirk, who are respectively the former heads of the DNC and the RNC.
Now what this shows is the two major parties in the United States have come together and set up an organization which claims to be nonpartisan.
They have acted in a decidedly undemocratic manner when they established a rule that states any candidate who wishes to participate must have at least 15 percent support across five different national polls.
It would seem this rule acts as a buffer in order to weed out candidates who are not serious and helps in reducing confusion so that competitive candidates can get more attention.
The problem is that instead of acting as a buffer, it is being used as a shield for the Democratic and Republican parties.
They do not care for a substantive debate between the candidates; they do not care to hear outside viewpoints which actually have relevancy to the American people.
Instead of expanding the electorate’s knowledge of the candidates, the CPD prematurely narrows the nation’s decision to two choices.
By only giving coverage to Obama and Romney, the choice is implicitly reduced to Democrat or Republican.
If you never see a third-party candidate on a major network along with the Democratic or Republican nominee, why would you ever think they were legitimate?
It further propagates the false notion among voters they must pick the lesser of two evils; even if they disagree with the views
of “their” candidate.
Gallup polls are showing approximately 40 percent of the American voting population identify as Independents.
It is unethical for the Democrats and Republicans to collude and deprive the American people of opportunities to gain knowledge of their political choices.
This is especially true when such a large portion of the public declares it’s Independent.
When the CPD, along with the Democrats and Republicans, refuses to allow serious candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein to participate in presidential debates, it is doing a disservice to the nation.
It is not a question of whether these third-party candidates can win, but that their voice is even heard and they have a fair
chance to compete.