LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let Gary Johnson be involved in the debates

Have you seen the news release from the League of Women Voters?

League Refuses to “Help Perpetrate a Fraud”

The second paragraph sums it up best:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Haven’t seen this release? I’m not surprised. It’s from Oct. 3, 1988. League President Nancy Neuman was responding to a 16-page document submitted by the Bush and Dukakis campaigns representing their agreed-upon conditions for participating in the next debate. The League was informed the conditions were non-negotiable.

The League said “No,” and never again sponsored a presidential debate. The last debate that year was sponsored by the newly formed Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), whose co-chairmen were, coincidentally, the then-chairmen of the Republican and Democratic National Committees. The original Republican co-chair is still there, though he is now a former RNC chairman. The new Democratic co-chair is a former Bill Clinton press secretary. That odor you smell is what the CPD likes to refer to as “non-partisanship.” Their purpose is to present the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in the most favorable light, while excluding independent candidates by any means necessary. Their mission statement isn’t worded quite that way, but that’s the general idea.

Twenty-eight years later, not much has changed. Last week, the commission announced that it had sent debate invitations to the Republican and Democratic candidates for president and vice president. The Libertarian candidates, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, were excluded — this despite the Libertarian Party being the third-largest party in the United States. Despite them being on the ballot in all 50 states. Despite their consistently polling around 10 percent in national polls and in the high teens in many individual state polls. Despite the fact that six former governors, numerous editorial boards and 62 percent of regular Americans wanted them in the debates. And most importantly, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are arguably the least appealing and most polarizing choices for president this country has ever known.

A large plurality of Americans would chew off their right foot to escape voting for one of these two candidates. (The polling on this might have asked a somewhat subtler question, but you get my point.) The most recent Pew Research data puts the percentage of voters identifying as independent at 39 percent and growing, exceeding the numbers of both Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans will be represented on the debate stage.

The Democrats will be represented on the debate stage. Who will be representing those independents?

Nobody. If there was ever a year for the Commission on Presidential Debates to offer more choices, this is it. Thanks, CPD. Thanks for nothing! It’s time to bring back integrity and fairness to the debate process. It’s time to bring back the League of Women Voters. #LetGaryDebate.

Jesse McVay
Dover

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