Third Party Presidential Debates

by Karl Tatgenhorst on October 24, 2012

Last night in Chicago, I attended the Free and Equal Debates. These were official debates belonging to a non-profit organization which is focused on voters and on the Constitution. They invited six candidates: Barack Obama Democrat (incumbent), Mitt Romney Republican, Gary Johnson Libertarian, Jill Stein Green Party,  Virgil Goode Constitutional Party and Rocky Anderson Justice Party. Two of the candidates opted out, that is their loss they continue to send a clear message to those tired of the bipartisan cronyism and that is “you are irrelevant” all the while still telling us that a vote for our candidate “steals one” from the “legitimate” candidates. That was fine when our numbers were lower, I do believe this election cycle is going to be a turning point in our politics.

The debate was moderated by none other than Larry King, his decision to loan his “prestige and draw” (Gary Johnsons’ words) to the event should help to highlight that the 3d parties are growing in their  appeal as well as there reach. Christina Tobin of Free and Equal did a wonderful job putting the event together as well as co-moderating it with Larry King, her passion in the cause was evident as she spoke.

The questions seemed to mostly come from Gary Johnson(or maybe Ron Paul) followers, with some perhaps coming from Jill Steins camp. The candidates, (though I do not agree with each of them) each did very well. It was nice to see a stage full of legitimate seekers of the office of President of the United States who did not believe in NDAA, the Patriot Act and in many cases the “war on drugs”. It was also refreshing to see some level of courtesy and statesmanship. In terms of debate cordiality, I would have to say that Virgil Goode was outstanding. Several times while others spoke, if he agreed he lightly applauded UNLESS he FIRMLY agreed in which case he led the audience in applauding his opponent. Additionally, every candidate spoke about the “war on drugs” and how they would end it, it was quite obvious the WHOLE room supported that. Virgil stated strongly “Let me be clear, I WILL reduce spending on the drug war but that is because of a $16 trillion debt. I DO NOT support the idea of ending the war on drugs or in ending any prohibition. If you want that, there are three fine candidates here with me.” No John Kerry on this issue.

Jill Steins big idea for the day was that we cannot afford not to subsidize higher education. She would push for free college education. I’m pretty sure that with $200,000 per person in public debt in the USA I don’t favor MORE spending. However, the idea of last night was to hear DIFFERENT ideas and she had them. She also has the gumption to protest the behemoth she opposes. She was detained at the Presidential Debate last week and that speaks volumes for her tenacity and willingness to risk it for us.

Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party did not really impress me too much. I think that may have been due to the debate not being in his element, but I think it was his ideology in general (sorry to say). Rocky seemed to espouse a hodge podge of political ideas which were fairly disjointed, at first he sounded Libertarian and at times he sounded Democrat.  No firm ideology that I could identify. I would like to point though that when the NDAA question came up…. his passion for the rule of law and justice came out with a vengeance. He all but owned that question.

In the interest of disclosure, if you did not already know, I am a Libertarian. With that, I will talk about Gary Johnson. The first question was about the “top two” proposition in some states which makes primary voting a very confusing popularity contest (literally the top two vote getters get the states nomination, regardless of party). Gary firmly opposed this, talking about how it limited our options concluding with… we already have a “top two choices and apparently they are Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum”. When speaking about National Security Governor Johnson made sure to reiterate that the number one threat to our future is bankruptcy and that the argument over who would outspend the other on defense is ridiculous as is the pondering of bombing Iran.

If you haven’t yet checked these people out, please do so. I am not asking that you drop everything and change your vote just look at what they offer and start to talk. Ronald Reagan said that change in politics starts at American Dinner tables. The future of our country could also be the glue that gets you talking at dinner (though politics may be more of a repellent than a glue).

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Karl Tatgenhorst wrote 31 articles on this blog.

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