One of the reasons Americans know so little about third party candidates is the lack of media attention.
United States — The 2016 presidential election has been dominated by personalities who are promoted as “outsiders.” To be fair, Bernie Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s messages are very different than those of typical Democrats and Republicans, but they are still confined to the rules of the Republican and Democratic establishment through the party system. As is typical in the United States, very little attention has been paid to the numerous third party options available. From the Green Party to the Constitution Party, the Marijuana Party to the Pirate Party, Americans have a number of options.
One of the reasons Americans know so little about third party candidates is the lack of media attention. The corporate deadstream media is owned by the same interests that are invested in the two-party dictatorship, so any party outside of that paradigm is rarely given coverage. This reinforces the two-party system because candidates are often afraid to run a losing campaign with a third party and, instead, opt for the financial support and media coverage that comes with running under the Democrat or Republican Parties.
However, a recent announcement from former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson may change all that. Gary Johnson was the 2012 Libertarian Party candidate for president and is running for the nomination again this election. Johnson’s Tumblr account confirmed that an LP debate will likely take place in March. A statement from the campaign read:
“The Gary Johnson 2016 campaign has confirmed with Fox Business’s Stossel that Gov. Johnson will be delighted to participate in a televised debate among Libertarian Party presidential candidates, hopefully in March. We will of course leave the formal announcement of the debate details and date to the Stossel show, but want to express our gratitude to Mr. Stossel for working to find a date for this important event that will not disrupt any planned Libertarian Party activities and that is actually doable for all the candidates who are involved.”
At least two other candidates have already confirmed attendance at the debate, including Austin Petersen, former producer of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show, “Freedom Watch,” and John McAfee, software pioneer and founder of the Cyber Party. Petersen wrote in an email to his supporters:
“After quite a back and forth last week over whether there would be a nationally televised Libertarian Party presidential debate between myself and the other frontrunners, we just got word a few hours ago that there’s a chance we might be able to make this debate happen! That’s Tremendous news!”
According to the Libertarian Party’s official website, there are twelve 2016 presidential candidates. In addition to Johnson, Petersen, and McAfee, the candidates currently include Marc Allan Feldman, Cecil Ince, Steve Kerbel, Darryl Perry, Derrick Michael Reid, Jack Robinson Jr., Rhett Smith, Shawna Joy Sterling, and Joy Waymire. The Libertarian Party nominee will be selected at the national convention from May 26 through May 30, in Orlando, Florida.
Although this will be the first nationally televised Libertarian Party debate, there have been televised third party debates in the past. In 2012, the Free and Equal Foundation organized third party debates which were televised nationally and moderated by journalist Larry King. The debate included the Libertarian, Green, Justice, and Constitution parties. Although none of those candidates won, Gary Johnson received just under 1 percent of the popular vote in the general election, with more than 1.2 million votes. This was the highest vote percentage in the Libertarian Party’s history.
Whether you are a member of the Libertarian Party or not, Johnson’s tiny percentage is unfortunately something to celebrate. I say unfortunately because it is extremely unfortunate that true outsider voices have been shut out of the electoral process in a supposedly free country built on the values of a constitutional republic. I personally do not vote, but if I were a voting man, I would be focusing my energy and efforts on learning about third party candidates and supporting them in whatever ways I could manage. Even if you think your vote is wasted (it’s not), you will feel better knowing you are voting with your principles and values rather than voting for the lesser evil once again.