Monday, September 19, 2016

Let Gary Johnson debate

Let Gary Johnson debate

Every voter in America will see Gary Johnson’s name on the ballot when they vote on Nov. 8. They should see him on the presidential debate stage next week as well.

Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and former Republican running as a Libertarian, has done what few third party candidates ever have: He’s qualified for the ballot in all states.

Given the unique nature of the 2016 presidential campaign, that alone should earn Johnson a seat alongside Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton when the first debate convenes Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York.

But the Commission on Presidential Debates set a threshold of 15 percent support in an average of polls before a candidate can make the rostrum.

Johnson, who was in Detroit last week to speak to the Detroit Economic Club, reached 13 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, though the Real Clear Politics average of polls has him at just 8.3 percent.

If Johnson isn’t seated, it will be a disservice to the American electorate.

The biggest case for adding Johnson to the debates is that so many American voters are desperate for another option.

They are historically dissatisfied with the major candidate nominees. Clinton’s unfavorability rating stands at 55 percent, according to the RCP average; Trump’s is at 58 percent.

With voters holding such a negative view of the nominees presented by Republicans and Democrats, the debate commission should not lock them into a binary choice. Expose them to a viable third option, and many may take it.

Johnson argues correctly that were he allowed to participate in the three debates, his name recognition and support would go up. Right now, he says, most voters don’t know who he is or what he stands for.