Third Party Candidate – Who Is On the Ballot In All 50 States – Files Lawsuit Demanding Inclusion in Presidential Debates

Alleges Anti-Trust Violation By Democratic and Republican Parties

The American people are sick of both the Republican and Democratic party, and yearn for something different.  See this, this and this.

No wonder … the mainstream Democratic and Republican parties agree on most matters which affect American lives the most directly.  Here, here, here here and here.  And – as this 4-minute video shows – they both ignore the desires of their own bases.

Obama and Romney are virtually indistinguishable on most core issues. For example: jobs, freedoms and favoring fatcats instead of the little guy.

The Founding Fathers warned – at the very birth of our nation – against a two-party system as being destructive to liberty.

For example, the Republican and Democratic parties have long formed Gentlemen’s agreements – through the “Presidential Debate Commission” – on what topics are “off-limits” (and which journalists can even ask questions) during presidential debates:

The Presidential Debate Commission (PDC) is run by former chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties. The debates almost always exclude third-party candidates.

Gary Johnson is looking to change that.

The Libertarian candidate for president – who will be on all 50 states’ ballots this election, and who is currently polling at around 5% of the vote – Johnson (and his vice presidential running mate, retired judge Jim Gray) have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PDC for excluding them from the debates:

The Gov. Gary Johnson/Judge Jim Gray Campaign has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Democrats, Republicans, & the Commission on Presidential Debates for antitrust and anticompetitive acts. The voters deserve competition!

The lawsuit comes after the PDC’s failure to respond to the following letter from Johnson last month:

Dear [Commission Member]

I am writing to request that the national Commission on Presidential Debates reconsider your current – and exclusionary – requirements for participation in this Fall’s all-important Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates.

I am well aware of the history and genesis of the Commission, including the reality that it was created largely by the respective national leadership of the Democrat and Republican Parties. While I respect and understand the intention to provide a reasonable and theoretically nonpartisan structure for the presidential debate process, I would suggest that the Commission’s founding, organization and policies are heavily skewed toward limiting the debates to the two so-called major parties.

That is unfortunate, and frankly, out of touch with the electorate. You rely very heavily on polling data to determine who may participate in your debates, yet your use of criteria that are clearly designed to limit participation to the Republican and the Democrat nominee ignore the fact that many credible polls indicate that a full one-third of the electorate do not clearly identify with either of those parties. Rather, they are independents whose voting choices are not determined by party affiliation.

That one-third of the voters, as well as independent-thinking Republicans and Democrats, deserve an opportunity to see and hear a credible “third party” candidate. I understand that there are a great many “third party” candidates, and that a line must be drawn somewhere. However, the simple reality of our Electoral College system draws that line in a very straightforward and fair way – a reality that is reflected in your existing criteria. If a candidate is not on the ballot in a sufficient number of states to be elected by the Electoral College, it is perfectly logical to not include that candidate in a national debate. If, on other hand, a candidate IS on the ballot in enough states to be elected, there is no logic by which that candidate should be excluded.

Nowhere in the Constitution or in law is it written that our President must be a Democrat or a Republican. However, it IS written that a candidate must receive a majority of the votes – or at least 50% – cast by electors, and that any candidate who does so, and otherwise meets the Constitution’s requirements, may be President.

As the Libertarian Party’s nominees for Vice-President and President, Judge Jim Gray and I have already qualified to be on the ballot in more than enough states to obtain a majority in the Electoral College, and we are the only candidates other than the Republican and Democrat nominees to have done so, or who are likely to do so. In fact, we fully intend and expect to be on the ballots of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

However, the Commission has chosen to impose yet another requirement for participation: 15% in selected public opinion polls. Unlike your other requirements, this polling performance criterion is entirely arbitrary and based, frankly, on nothing other than an apparent attempt to limit participation to the Democrat and the Republican.

Requiring a certain level of approval in the polls has nothing to do with fitness to serve, experience or credibility as a potential President. Rather, it has everything to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars available to and spent by the two major party candidates, the self-fulfilling bias of the news media against the viability of third party candidates, and an ill-founded belief that past dominance of the Republican and Democrat Parties should somehow be a template for the future.

In all due respect, it is not the proper role of a non-elected, private and tax-exempt organization to narrow the voters’ choices to only the two major party candidates – which is the net effect of your arbitrary polling requirement. To the contrary, debates are the one element of modern campaigns and elections that should be immune to unfair advantages based upon funding and party structure. Yet, it is clear that the Commission’s criteria have both the intent and the effect of limiting voters’ choices  to the candidates of the two major parties who, in fact, created the Commission in the first place.

Eliminating the arbitrary polling requirement would align the Commission and its procedure for deciding who may participate in the critical debates with fairness and true nonpartisanship, which was the purported intent behind the Commission’s creation. As of right now, eliminating that requirement would not disrupt the process or make it unmanageable. Rather, it would simply allow the participation of a two-term governor who has more executive experience than Messrs. Obama and Romney combined, who has garnered sufficiently broad support to be on the ballot in more than enough states to achieve a majority in the Electoral College, and who, without the help of party resources and special interests, has attracted enough financial support to qualify for presidential campaign matching funds.

I urge and request you to remove the partisanship from the debates, and allow the voters an opportunity to hear from all of the qualified candidates – not just those who happen to be a Democrat or a Republican.

Thank you.

Governor Gary Johnson

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  • Vitaeus

    The “Commission on Presidential Debates ” is a private organization that spends it’s money to showcase the two party candidates. As self serving as this is, they are perfectly able to exclude anyone they choose, the 501(c) is following their by-laws and could just as easily specifically exclude anyone except the Dem or Rep candidates. Forcing a private corporation to violate their bylaws using Federal powers is completely and totally NOT a libertarian concept. Do I wish there was a venue to allow all the parties to debate, yes, but not at the cost of further erosion of private property rights in America.

  • Hillary

    Ross Perot was a third party candidate in the debates, so it can happen, but in that case Perot had Clinton’s support because most of Perot’s vote would come from the opposing candidate (incumbent Bush), so it made logistical sense to Clinton for Perot to be in the debates, namely splitting the Republican ticket between Bush and Perot, even in the pre-election polling stage the numbers can effect turnout for the incumbent. A third party candidate needs to split a ticket for one side to support them in the debate. So, very few (in this case 5 percent) actually want the third party candidate there as a real choice, most want them there to split their opponents’ ticket or don’t want them there because they will split THEIR candidate’s ticket. And that’s the reality. Usually it hurts the incumbent if the support levels are greater than 2 or 3 percent. Obama’s speech the other day stating to the crowd he would not receive as much support in the polls this time around as last (no incumbent has ever won re-election while losing support from the first election) means he his hoping for a smaller turnout, a big turnout would benefit Romney. Having a third candidate would increase the turnout and most of the support would siphon off of Obama if not actually being enough to split the ticket. I don’t know what the percentage should be to allow a third party candidate to debate — and there should be some qualifier — but without a magic number this will continue to happen. Select 5 percent or 10 percent or something. Come up with a number and stick with it so we don’t go through this.

    • akfellow

      When Perot met their rule of scoring 5% in the polls, the duoploy HAD to admit him to the debates. By the next election, the republicrats running the debates had quietly raised the number to 15%. Apparently they will do whatever it takes to keep other voices stifled or silenced. And the American public still hasn’t gotten the joke.

  • Haigh

    The public will rip a hole in this current debate process when 10+% are voting for third party POTUS candidates. Then real debates between these third party candidates could change the game

  • Undecider

    Vote Gary Johnson!!!

  • Randy Wininger

    I think Jesse Ventura should be the moderator in a no holds bar cage match between Obama, Romney, and anyone else that wants to debate. No rules, no editing of the questions or the questioners.

  • B_List_Pornstar_Extra

    I hope Johnson is able to debate. This letter seems logical and makes me want to vote for him even more. I just would like to see how well he does in a debate format against President Obama and Mitt Romney. But either way, I’m most likely voting for Gary Johnson as President.