Being Libertarian Perspectives serves as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis pieceby members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, answers a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen moderates and facilitates the discussion.
Dillon Eliassen: Welcome back to “Perspectives,” the weekly feature you love to hate. The topic today is Gary Johnson’s exclusion from the presidential debates. If Johnson had been allowed to participate, it would have been a watershed moment for the Libertarian Party, but would it have been such a great thing? Considering Johnson is prone to gaffs, and he’d be onstage with those Democratic and Republican menaces to society, I think it is a blessing in disguise that Johnson is not in the debates. Thoughts?
Nicholas Amato: I think the same. Though someone like Austin Petersen would’ve had a lesser chance of getting into the debates, Petersen is actually a better messenger and less prone to gaffes. Johnson is a poor messenger and a gaffe machine and probably would’ve hurt us. And if Weld had made it in… Yikes.
Anna Trove: I think his own statement from that interview where he stuck his tongue out is pretty accurate. Simply being on the stage will get him more support. He may be a dingus but he’s not already so hated, as the other two are.
Mike Mazzarone: Has Johnson been invited to the 3rd debate? I wouldn’t be shocked at all if GJ makes it into the last debate because of Trump’s big mouth. And one debate is all he needs, in my opinion.
Nicholas: Not yet, but there’s nothing to show that he’d actually make it in.
Mike: Petersen is a walking cliche. I think we could do better than a living, breathing bumper sticker.
Nicholas: He’s evolved a lot since the Stossel debate. We can do far better than a living, breathing cake-baking gaffe machine.
Mike: Has he evolved from dressing like a pirate and getting drunk on camera live streams as well?
Dillon: OK, I have to play Sully here and land this plane because this conversation has stalled. Can we get back to the topic, which is “Is Gary Johnson’s exclusion from the debates a blessing in disguise?”
Danny Chabino: Not knowing what Aleppo is was a little embarrassing but neither of the main candidates would likely have known either. Not being able to name a world leader he admires isn’t really a gaffe. That said, he is not at all well spoken but I would still think he is a valuable enough candidate in terms of interest to have him on the stage. It’s the unpopularity of the two major candidates that makes the situation so unique. Media has never care before about the LP candidate. Most people don’t know what a libertarian is. Johnson may not articulate the message perfectly but they at least get an idea of the LP message.
Dillon: Let’s assume for a minute Johnson were to get in: would liberal moderators not treat him the same way they treat Trump? They’ll ask Johnson and Trump gotcha questions and continue to lob softballs at Hillary. And remember in one of the GOP primary debates when Johnson joked “My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration?” That’s a funny line, but it’s not a “Hey, I’m a serious candidate,” line.
Mike: I’d like to believe Johnson would handle himself well if he got into the final debate. I think Trump recently said he was “done” with the debate commission, so I think Johnson making the next debate isn’t as unrealistic as some wanna believe.
Danny: I believe Johnson has the highest soap box we libertarians have ever had and even a poor showing in a debate is better than none at all.
Dillon: You guys understand that being in the debate is not the same as performing well in them, right? Johnson is not the brightest light in the closet, and there’s no reason to think the moderators would give Johnson the benefit of the doubt.
Nicholas: Johnson could theoretically hurt us pretty bad by being an idiot in the debates.
Dillon: Exactly. Does it make sense to have a poor ambassador for libertarianism be in the debates?I really lament the fact that Ted Cruz isn’t the GOP nominee. If you want to watch a good debate, have him go against Hillary. Instead, she is facing off against a mental midget.
Here’s how it would go for Johnson in the debates: “Mr. Johnson, you have said repeatedly that Hillary Clinton is a great public servant. If you believe that, why are you running against her for president?” Or, “Mr. Johnson, you are what could be described as a ‘marijuana enthusiast.’ Are you high right now?”
Mike: He’s repeatedly said he wouldn’t smoke pot running for office so. If the moderators don’t do their homework they will look awfully stupid, Especially on that last question.
Dillon: But it doesn’t matter, Mike, that’s what I’m telling you. Unless the moderator is one of us or a staffer for FEE or Reason or one of the cool guys on Fox News, Johnson won’t be allowed to present a case for libertarianism, he’ll constantly be playing defense.
Michael D Vellian: Its all a scam. No third party candidate will ever make it in the debates, nor perform well unless a non partisan group takes over the debate commission.
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