Opinion: Third parties a breath of fresh air
I’m not sure if you know this yet, but there’s an election next week. And there is, actually, one more presidential debate to come — but it’s not between the Republican and the Democrat.
One more debate between several of the smaller parties is scheduled for Monday. To help determine which candidates would take place in that debate, Chicago hosted a third-party presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 23 moderated by Larry King.
The debate, sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, featured four candidates: Jill Stein of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.
The four candidates spent the 90-minute debate answering six questions asked by social media regarding issues such as the top-two primary election system, the war on drugs, education and health care.
Christina Tobin, founder of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, preceded the debate: “Tonight, we are all taking part in something good and real, and honest, and open, without debate contracts and private interests controlling the questions we ask, and the answers that the candidates deliver — free, and open and fair.”
The debate itself had a comfortable, realistic atmosphere that encouraged the candidates to engage in discourse that allowed them to honestly state their viewpoints — opinions that would make Super PACs gasp in horror if they came from the mouths of President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
Admittedly, the debate was slightly unorganized at the beginning, particularly when Larry King failed to let the candidates give their opening statements and jumped straight to the questions. After the candidates gave their delayed statements, however, the debate gained momentum, and it was truly refreshing to hear new voices by candidates.
They did not attack one another, but instead questioned the views and actions of those in office whose decisions are controlled by those who fund them.
“I think these people deserve a lot of credit for coming forward,” King said. “It’s easy to sit back and watch — these people stand up. They may not be counted on Nov. 6, but they’re counting today, and they deserve to be heard.”
Each of the candidates support cutting military funding and ending the war on drugs. The question of education, however, resulted in different answers.
Johnson, for example, stated that government student loans are to blame for the increasing cost of college tuition, whereas Stein claimed that higher education should be free for all students: “When our troops came home from the second World War ... we provided free higher education through the GI Bill.”
“Instead of bailing out Wall Street for the fourth time ... let’s bail out the students and do something really useful with that bailout,” she said.
The final question, however, was the most significant: It asked the candidates what amendment they would make to the Constitution if they knew it would pass. The answers varied from gender and sexual equality to the assertion that money is not speech and corporations are not people.
Following the debate, an online vote determined that Stein and Johnson will be participating in the second Third Party debate.
The third-party candidates may not have a chance of winning this election, but they symbolize the flawed electoral system that we uphold while wondering why 40 percent of the population doesn’t vote.