The day we’ve been waiting for is here. No, not Election Day, but close: it’s the first Presidential Debate. So, why won’t the third party candidates be on stage? In this quick take, I make the case that they haven’t earned it.
Let’s play devil’s advocate / unpopular opinion, Internet. With the debate coming up tonight, I’m seeing a lot of talk about Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. But what have they done to deserve being included in the debates?
17 million people voted for Hillary Clinton. And while Donald Trump (as I have previously discussed) is a demagogue who could very well send things spiraling into chaos and it’s imperative that we defeat him, 14 million people voted for him against their better judgment. How many people voted for Johnson? 23,000. Stein? Unclear, but maybe 15,000. They didn’t put in the work to win the votes of the people. They just sort of coasted in there with entitlement.
Having a 10-minute sidebar to hear from Bernie Sanders tonight wouldn’t make sense, but it would make 1,000 times more sense than Johnson and Stein being up there. Those two have about as much right to participate in this debate in front of 100 million people as I do.
Here’s the thing about third parties: it’s a chicken and egg problem. What comes first, the media giving significant coverage to third parties, or people joining and voting for those parties in significant numbers? Each would tell you the other should come first. But Johnson and Stein knew that by going the third-party route, they wouldn’t have a chance. It’s easy for them to complain now.
I find what Bernie did infinitely more commendable. He identified the major party that was the best fit for him, took it on from within, and created a movement that made the party better than it was before on several key economic issues. What have Johnson and Stein created, except some noise from the sidelines? Change doesn’t happen when nobody has to respond to you.