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Third party candidates deserve more attention

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:10

In today’s political system there is more evidence that third party political candidates are having a larger affect in the eyes of Americans. 
But third party candidates still have no visibility during the debates, and in the time building up to the first presidential debate, Libertarian candidate and former N.M. Gov. Gary Johnson sued the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) for blocking him in taking part in the debate. 
The CPD, formed in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic Political Parties after the League of Women Voters removed itself from sponsoring the presidential debates amid fears of perpetuating fraud, introduced a rule during the 2000 election that required any candidate wishing to participate in the debates to have at least 15 percent of the pre-debate electoral polls.

Today’s political agenda has a heavy emphasis on a two-party system that the 15 percent rule upholds.

But this rule practically eliminates third party candidates from participating in the debates and ultimately from gaining ground and public recognition. Pre-debate polls should not be used to determine who among the candidates may attend.

Someone  running for the highest office in the land should be able to express his or her idea and policies in front of the nation in a public forum. 
The third party segment of American politics is growing, as most people are moving away from either the Republican or Democratic parties and registering with different parties.  According to the Libertarian Party’s official website, the number of registered members is on the rise and it has more than 250,000 members.

This does not take into account voters who may be registered for a different party, but may vote for third party candidates.

Johnson’s lawsuit against the CPD, claiming it “hoodwinked the American people”, has had some affect on them, in that it got three of the commission’s sponsors to stop their partnership, but it is only one step closer to a more transparent CPD and equal involvement by all political parties.

The act of not allowing third party candidates from participating in the debates lowers their chance for a bid at the presidency. 
Third party political parties have always been a part of the political sphere, and more so in the past 12 years.  American voters should gradually move away from a two-party system to one that is more representative of the American voters. 
But in order for this system to exist, the growing population and support for third party candidates need to be allowed to take part in the presidential debates — regardless of their polling numbers.


Tony Gordon is a senior majoring in marketing.

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