By William R. Toler | Independent Register
Despite the best efforts of the two major political parties and the mainstream media, third-party candidates aren’t giving up.
Barbara Howe and Gary Johnson: Libertarian candidates excluded from debates.
According to Policymic.com
, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson will join Jill Stein (Green Party), Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) for a presidential debate at the University Club of Chicago later this month.
The Free and Equal Elections Foundation made the announcement late last week
and said President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were also invited. So far, the aforementioned four are the only candidates to confirm their participation.
“The four candidates participating represent a nice balance of right and left leaning candidates,” stated Christina Tobin, chair of Free and Equal. “This debate will cover the real issues facing our country such as foreign policy, the economy, and civil rights, rather than topics that further divide us.”
The debate will be held Oct. 23 and will be broadcast online at www.freeandequal.org
. Sponsors include a variety of liberty organizations including Muslims for Liberty, Free the Vote NC
, Grassroots for Liberty and New Progressive Alliance as well as The Justice Party and the National Constitution Party. The Josh Tolley Show
and Ballot Access News
are also sponsors.
Johnson has filed an anti-trust lawsuit
challenging his exclusion from the major debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. According to a press release, Johnson’s running mate Jim Gray
will argue the motion for the campaign. Gray is a retired California Superior Court Judge.
“There is nothing remotely surprising in the fact thata private organization created by and run by the Republican and Democratic Parties has only invited the Republican and Democratic candidates to their debates,” said Johnson’s senior advisor Ron Neilson. “It is a bit more disturbing that the national news media has chosen to play the two-party game, when a full one-third of the American people do not necessarily identify with either of those two parties.”
Monday, several media outlets reported that three original sponsors
for the main debates have pulled out, possibly over Johnson’s exlusion. Philips North America, and the YWCA released statements on their withdrawls. Advertising firm BBH New York has also dropped it’s support, according to Reason.com
In the statement for Philps, Mark Stephenson said: “While the Commission on Presidential Debates is a non-partisan organization, their work may appear to support bi-partisan politics. we respect all points of view and, as a result, want to ensure that Philips doesn’t provide even the slightest appearance of supporting partisan politics. as such, no company funds have been or will be used to support the Commission on Presidential Debates.”
Meanwhile in North Carolina, Barbara Howe faces similar obstacles in her bid for governor. Despite the Libertarian Party being the only third-party listed on the state ballot, most media outlets refuse to even mention any of the candiates.
The Hickory Daily Record published a story last month
featuring Howe’s goal of running a 5K race in all 100 counties in the Tar Heel State.
Unlike her predecessor Mike Munger, Howe hasn’t been invited to participate in this year’s gubernatorial debate. In June, She wrote a letter to the News & Observer
I guess my invitation to the debate sponsored by the N.C. Bar Association was lost in the mail. How else do you explain the missing third candidate in the first meeting of some of the candidates in the race for governor?
Of course, as a Libertarian candidate, I am used to the slight. I don’t like it, mind you, but I am used to it. The people of North Carolina, however, deserve better. They should have an opportunity to hear from all their choices.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me or anyone else that a debate sponsor might not like to hear ideas that challenge the status quo. There’s much at stake when deciding which of the two big-government, state-sponsored parties to put in charge. The NCBA’s debate showcasing the 1 or 2 per cent difference between D’s and R’s will do nothing to slake the voters appetite for innovation, for some respect for their rights and their privacy, and for long-lost fiscal responsibility.
Perhaps whoever organizes the next gubernatorial debate will see fit to make it a truly non-partisan affair and invite all candidates to the dance. After all, it’s really not that hard to fit three chairs on the stage.
Working in the media gets especially difficult for me around election time. While my co-workers strive to be “balanced” and have stories on “both sides”, they often neglect third-party candidates…no matter how much I rant and rave and make snide comments out loud.
While exclusion is pure bias on the network level, it’s more ignorance on the local level. One producer asked me, “Who is this Gary Johnson you keep talking about?”
One of the most-heard excuses is that the candidates aren’t well-known to the majority of our audience (much less, our staff). My counter-argument is that maybe if we did our job and informed the public that they have more than two choices, third-party candidates would have a better shot.
Yet the exclusion continues.