The first Presidential debate for the 2016 election is just a week away, and it has been confirmed that only Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be on stage. Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson did not qualify for the first debate, based on low poll numbers.
Separate But Equal
Here’s the thing. If you’re on the ballot in all 50 states*, you should be allowed to debate. Period. Polls are largely subjective, and can easily be manipulated. As we’ve seen time and again, polls also change daily.
Otherwise, a vicious cycle is created: candidates don’t have enough voter support to qualify for the debates, but the reason they don’t have that support is because they are excluded from the very public forums meant to empower voters to make informed and educated decisions!
Good for the Geese…
In many U.S. states, for instance, all candidates for high office such as Governor are permitted to debate on the same stage, regardless of some arbitrary support statistics. This allows voters to hear a variety of stances on policy, without being silo’ed into just two choices.
I’m not suggesting novelty candidates should be afforded the same right and respect as genuine candidates. What I mean is that the Iowa teen who calls himself “Deez Nuts” should clearly not be taken seriously. But other candidates should be afforded the forum to debate their rivals.
Time for Change
For the good of the electorate, we need to end once and for all this outdated and archaic rule where debate inclusion is dependent on a candidates’ standing in an ever-fluctuating polling process. Otherwise, we risk further disenfranchising an already indifferent voting public.
My Two Cents
by Peter P. Gaseoustania
*Editor’s Note: Dr. Jill Stein is on the ballot in 45 states. Independent candidate Evan McMullin is on the ballot in 11 states.