In the wake of the four awful debates between Team Obama and Team Romney, the American people were given a treat. The organization known as the Free & Equal Elections Foundation put on an alternative debate between the top third party candidates: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were also invited to the debate but they either chose not to participate or conveniently lost the invitation. Granted, if I was either of them, I wouldn’t show up either.
The two party system through the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has made sure that third party threats can’t challenge the Republican and Democrat duopoly. So with that tyrannical mechanism in play, why the hell would Obama or Romney even want Americans to be aware that there are more than two choices out there. Also, unbeknownst to most Americans, the biased CPD is a private entity, actually it is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation, funded by big businesses such as General Motors, AT&T, Warren Buffett and Marriot. If that doesn’t seem like some tyrannical bullshit, then you aren’t awake.
Anyway, this debate was hosted by icon and legend Larry King, formerly of CNN. King wasn’t the best moderator by any means but he was certainly more enjoyable than the other moderators we had to put up with during the four Big Party debates. Now my criticism on King comes from the fact that he wasn’t the best at maintaining order and he often times seemed out of it. For instance, he totally forgot about opening remarks and had to be reminded about them twenty-five minutes into the debate. Also, he had a hard time in the time management department. If the candidates on the stage weren’t respectful to one another, it could’ve been a total shitshow. However, the candidates were respectful and it helped the debate flow and kept the answers clear. If King had moderated an Obama-Romney or a Biden-Ryan debate, it would’ve been total chaos. Larry King deserves some serious props however for asking real questions. Granted, many questions came from Americans chiming in as well as the Free & Equal organization but ultimately, the subject matter was stronger and more relevant to the average American than the same tired topics that Obama and Romney have been talking about for months – probably due to the fact that they are unable to give real solutions to real problems without pissing off their financiers and Big Party puppet masters.
But let’s ignore Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, as they have gotten more than enough airtime to promote their broken messages. Let’s look at these third party candidates and how they differ. As many of you who read my articles know, I have talked about Gary Johnson a lot and I have had the pleasure of having a half dozen conversations with him just this year. I haven’t met the other three candidates however, and other than what I’ve read and a few interviews I’ve seen with Jill Stein, I don’t really now them as well as I probably should. This debate was a good opportunity to hear them out.
To start, Gov. Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party got the loudest ovation during the introductions. Jill Stein of the Green Party kicked things off however. She said that money isn’t speech and she called for getting money out of politics while opening up the airwaves to every single candidate. On paper this is a great idea but you will never get money out of politics and you will never be able to open up the floor to all the candidates. For instance, if every political party had a presidential candidate, that would mean that we would have 38 candidates representing all the major and minor national political parties. Would we have time to really have a debate between 38 people? Do you remember how hard it was to evenly give time to all the candidates when the Republican primaries had debates with ten or more people? And those debates were 30 minutes longer than the Obama-Romney debates. If you were to limit the number of candidates that could debate, you’d have every party that is left out feeling just as disrespected as these third parties at this debate feel in this election cycle. Besides, is anyone going to take the United States Pirate Party seriously? Oh wait, never mind, I thought they were swashbucklers – apparently they’re techies.
Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party blasted Obama and Romney for their pro-war agendas that were on display in the big debate one night prior. He also mentioned that neither Obama or Romney discussed the failed War on Drugs.
Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party introduced himself but honestly, I was distracted by his long southern drawl. He sounded like the fat cop from the bayou that used to call the Roger Moore incarnation of James Bond “Booooy!” Regardless of his vocal awesomeness, I didn’t really get much out of him in his first exchange with Larry King.
Gary Johnson, right out of the gate, was the most charismatic by far. His passion was present and seeing how well he spoke and articulated himself, I knew that he had vastly improved since seeing his limited appearances in the Republican primary debates last year. He’s found his stride and if he sticks around for the long haul, he could seriously be a formidable opponent for the two party system in 2016. He goes on to say he is “pro-choice on everything!” He goes on to bash the other debates and refers to Obama and Romney as Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
Jill Stein goes on to say, “All of us need to stand up and demand real democracy”. Rocky Anderson says that third party candidates need free and equal access to airwaves. Unfortunately Rocky, this goes back to my comments about Stein’s first statement. Johnson says that candidates should have to wear NASCAR-like endorsement patches on their suits so that the public knows who is paying them. He also bashes the use of drones at home and abroad.
They then do the introductions a bit late and start with Jill Stein. Again, she says we need real democracy. She also adds that America needs electoral choices that aren’t paid for by Wall Street. She then goes on to call for bailouts for students. Oh boy, she’s starting to sound like the Occupy Wall Street candidate. What Stein needs to understand, is that there is no such thing as a free lunch, which Gary Johnson informs her of later in the debate. The truth is, I would love to have free higher education in America but our current public school system is absolute shit and it is not because of a lack of money. However, where I sit, as long as I am being forced to pay taxes, I would rather my money go towards education over war and bailouts for Wall Street, the auto industry and any other giant corporate entity that failed at competing within their rivals.
Rocky Anderson builds off of Jill Stein’s Wall Street comments and says that he is sick of them buying our elections. He goes on to rip apart the NDAA and specifically indefinite detention of American citizens without due process of law. Goode jumps in and slams the budget plans of both the Romney Camp and the Obama Camp. Goode calls for a moratorium on green cards until the unemployment rate is under 5 percent. He also calls for term limits, as it would stop politicians from dedicating all their time to getting reelected – allowing them to put the needs of the people first. Johnson wants to end all wars now – including the War on Drugs. He wants to repeal the PATRIOT Act and NDAA, he says he would balance the budget in a year and he cites the FairTax as a solution to out shitty and complicated tax code.
Anderson agrees with Johnson and wants to end the War on Drugs. He calls it a “cancer” and talks about how many people are incarcerated because of it when they have done nothing to harm anyone else but themselves. Anderson says, “We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the prison population.” Virgil Goode jumps in to make it clear that he would not end the War on Drugs or drug prohibition. He also refers to it as a state issue and nothing more than a minor hinderance economically. He’s wrong on both accounts. First, it should be handled at the state and local level but they can’t handle the issue if he doesn’t get the federal government out of their way. So essentially, his thought process on this is just silly. As far as it being a minor hinderance economically, the Drug War costs the United States $500 per second costing us over $15 billion a year. However, since it has begun, it has cost the United States over a trillion dollars, as well as hundreds of thousands of lives. In 2008, which is a bit dated so it is now probably more, Jeffrey Miron of the Cato Institute estimated that legalizing drugs would save taxpayers $76.8 billion per year.
Gary Johnson, who is right on the money, adds in that most of the negative issues regarding drugs are caused by prohibition and not actual drug use. Jill Stein, who is a doctor, says that marijuana is harmless in comparison to alcohol. She calls for the legalization of marijuana. Anderson agrees and wants to legalize hemp in order to industrialize it. Goode reiterates his distaste for the drug issue and then switches the subject.
Goode moves into talking about cutting military funding yet promises to do it while still maintaining the strength of our armed forces. Goode doesn’t seem to mind drones however. Gary Johnson mentions that we need a strong defense not a strong offense. He aims to cut military spending by 33 percent. Agreeing with Johnson, Stein wants to cut military spending but uses most of her time on the subject to bash drones. Jill Stein wants to ban all drones abroad and at home.
Getting back to Virgil Goode on the military issue, he says that he will only go to war if it is officially declared by Congress, as it should be. Johnson says he was opposed to the Iraq War but supported the Afghan War in the beginning. He then goes on to educate the audience on Iran, which is something Obama and Romney would never do. Johnson talks about how the Iranian people support America and want to be free despite their stupid leaders.
The debate moves back to Jill Stein, who goes back to arguing for free higher education and student bailouts. You know, I can almost follow the Green Party until they get into economics and that is where they lose me. They don’t seem to understand the bigger picture – the macro if you will. Anderson agrees with Stein and calls for free and equal educational opportunities. Goode jumps in saying that we can’t afford student loans and Pell Grants. Johnson steps in and adds some more sense to what Goode was saying when he states, “Free comes with a cost.” He’s right and I only wish that Stein and Anderson would see that. Despite Gary Johnson making a lot of sense, Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson both stick to their guns. Stein says that what we really “can’t afford” is not educating our people. Okay Stein, who is going to pay for it? Again, nothing is free. Also, have you seen our public education system and how bad it is? She goes on to refer to students as “indentured servants” again and again, painting them as the victims of some evil beast that they chose to play with. Goode compares Stein and Anderson to Mitt Romney on the issue of education.
Going back to Stein, she says that she would repeal the PATRIOT Act and NDAA. She also says that America needs to stop persecuting whistleblowers who try to bring transparency. Anderson calls NDAA the “most anti-American act ever.” He then warns that we are “on the road to totalitarianism.” Virgil Goode also slams the NDAA. Johnson says he would’ve vetoed NDAA from the start. He then goes on to talk about how the ACLU rated him the best liberty candidate. A few other things are discussed but it is mostly rehashes of already discussed topics.
At the end of the night, I was left smiling. The reason for my happiness is not because I am somehow delusional enough to believe that any of these long shots actually have a chance at winning the election in just a few weeks, but because they talked about real issues, gave us a real debate, showed that there is stark contrast to the two big parties and ultimately proved that we need to have more choices on the grand stage than just the same old two-headed beast. The third party debate was refreshing and eye-opening and I hope that a lot of people were watching. In a perfect world, these four would have been up there battling Obama and Romney and if that had happened, the outcome could have been very different than the bitter pill we will be forced to swallow come November 6th.
The good news for us, is that Free & Equal will be hosting another third party debate in a week.