The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Johnson should debate alongside Clinton and Trump


Election season is upon us. No, I mean, really upon us this time. We have been hearing about the presidential election for what seems like the entire past year, but when the debates finally start happening, you know the next president of the United States is about to actually be elected. 

The debates are, or used to be, the best opportunity for voters to hear the messages of the candidates, decide which candidate’s views resonate with them, and then make an informed decision based upon the information they received. 

Voters hearing from the two major party candidates and deciding from these options who is best for them, and the country, sounds good, right? Wrong. It is not good for the country when voters are forced to choose between the two most disliked candidates ever nominated by the two major parties. So, you may ask, what is the solution? Well, my solution is simple: let Gary Johnson debate. 

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that 62 percent of all voters and 82 percent of millennial voters specifically want to see Gary Johnson on the presidential debate stage. Think about that for a moment. Six out of every ten people you meet are likely to tell you that Johnson should be allowed to debate the issues with the two major candidates. 

That 62 percent is a large figure. I would even argue that the remaining 38 percent of voters do not believe Johnson should be allowed to debate because they are afraid that he will siphon votes from their candidate of choice. 

We live in the United States, a country founded on the principle that government should derive power from those being governed—a country that stresses democratic ideals as the most important to its own identity. 

If the people are the source of power and decision making in this country, then why isn’t Johnson debating if the majority say they want to see him? 

Well, I will tell you why—because the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has given Johnson a fairly large obstacle to overcome, and that is the CPD polling at an average of 15 percent in favor of Johnson debating. 

Every election cycle the CPD selects five nationwide polls to be their criteria for the candidate selection process. The polls used for this year’s debates are: ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News and NBC-Wall Street Journal. Right now Johnson is averaging around 9 percent, give or take a point, in these polls, which the number of unsure voters also floating around 9 percent. 

These polls differ from the Quinnipiac University poll, but that is because the CPD poll sees how much support a candidate has, whereas the Quinnipiac University poll measured how much support Johnson has for being in the debate. 

I know what you are thinking—even if some people want him to shake things up, why should he get to debate? He has not met the CPD’s criteria and only 9 percent of voters choose him as their primary candidate? The answer is simple: he should be allowed to debate because Americans deserve a viable alternative to the two major-party candidates.

 According to the New York Times most Americans make their decision on whom to vote for solely on the premise of party loyalty. We live in polarized times, and long gone are the days of voters making decisions based on the individuals running for president. 

Nowadays voters make decisions based off of alleged differences in party platforms. This is likely why many have not heard of Johnson, or even if they have, decided he is not right for them because he is running as a Libertarian. 

Despite making the ballot in all 50 states, Johnson is not receiving his fair share of media coverage unless he happens to say something a bit goofy. The average American, at least before Johnson’s numbers started to rise, probably could not accurately describe what it means to be a Libertarian. 

Every time I turn on the news, what do I see? I see Trump bashing Hillary, Hillary bashing Trump, and pundits from across the spectrum praising them for their proposed plans to save the country. 

What do I see when I do actually see Johnson on the news? He either has his tongue sticking out of his mouth, or he is asking, “What is Aleppo?” Media coverage is not equal and rarely does it focus on the possible success of a candidate’s proposed ideas. Usually coverage is designed to boost favorability among one candidate while making all others appear to be silly and unqualified. 

When I ask people what a Libertarian is, most of the time I get a response similar to, “They are pot smoking hippies”. While libertarians do support the decriminalization of marijuana, there is far more substance there than people give them credit for. 

Johnson has built his campaign on the premise of Libertarians being “fiscally conservative and socially inclusive”, which, generally speaking, is a correct but broad definition. 

Libertarian politics are centered on the idea that people should not be taxed more than necessary for the function of a limited, constitutional government, and individuals should be free to do what they please, as longer as they are not hurting others or inhibiting their ability to do the same in the process. 

When it comes to this, again broad, definition of Libertarianism, I would say Johnson is right in saying most people are Libertarians but just do not know it yet. 

Gary Johnson should be allowed to debate because it gives voters another candidate to examine and identify with. 9 percent of voters support him and 9 percent of voters are unsure who they support. 

The latter 9 percent could decide that Johnson is their man, along with those who have been supporting Clinton and Trump and have not heard Johnson’s messages yet. 

The Libertarian Party candidate will appear on the ballots in all 50 states, is polling at 15 percent or higher in 15 states, is 4 to 6 points from polling at second place in 4 states, and is the most favorable candidate for veterans, polling at 37 percent among this group. 

Is Gary Johnson the answer to the issues facing the United States? Maybe not, but give the voters a chance to decide for themselves. Let the man debate. 

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Johnson should debate alongside Clinton and Trump