By Robert Love
Can two party platforms effectively represent the opinion of 300 million Americans? If so, can you name the candidate who agrees with the majority of Americans on drug policy and defense spending?
Better yet, why are President Obama and Governor Romney, clear front runners in the polls, afraid of letting a third-party candidate be heard on the national stage? Surely they could defend their positions against a “fringe”candidate who has no chance of getting elected.
Could it be because this “fringe” candidate has a platform that resonates with the American public?
In 2008, Obama campaigned on a platform of respecting states’ rights on medical marijuana. Yet, as of today his administration has raided four times the number of medical marijuana dispensaries as his Republican predecessor.
According to Gallup, a majority of Americans now want to legalize marijuana and a whopping 75 percent support medical marijuana.
If this is something that most Americans want, why are neither of the candidates who supposedly represent the interests of the majority of the U.S. public talking about it? Sadly, it’s because neither agrees with most Americans on ending the war on drugs or cutting military spending.
Obama’s administration currently spends $1 billion more on the military than President George W. Bush ever did, and if Romney were elected, he would raise it $2 billion more than Obama.
So, if I’m one of the 39 percent of Americans who now believe that we should cut military spending, who should I vote for? What if I’m one of the 75 percent who want to legalize medical marijuana?
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House who visited LBJ last week, believes that the government needs to undergo a radical transformation before we see any positive changes. “Congress is structurally incompetent… the system is so badly broken that until there is a massive public demand for change it won’t happen,” said Gingrich. But the media says that we only have two options: Obama or Romney? Pro-life or Pro-choice? A big military or a bigger military?
And the public is convinced that there is no “legitimate,” experienced candidate who agrees with the majority of Americans on important policy decisions like military spending and decriminalized marijuana. Third-party views have been excluded from the debates and virtually ignored by the media. The result is that many Americans never learn that they don’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils, and could actually vote for a candidate they agree with.
Governor Gary Johnson, two-time Republican governor of New Mexico, is on the ballot in 48 states. He is running as a Libertarian campaigning on a platform of cutting military spending, balancing the budget and ending the war on drugs.
He would be on the ballot in all 50 states, but the Michigan Republican Party filed a lawsuit because Johnson removed his name from the Republican primary ballot three minutes past the deadline. Controversial ballot laws in Oklahoma also mean he will be missing from its ticket this Tuesday.
It seems that Republicans simply don’t want to debate. Right here on campus, the College Republicans backed out of their debate with the University Democrats when they learned that the Libertarian Longhorns were invited. Although the debate had been planned for weeks, the College Republicans backed out of the day before, citing that they needed more time to prepare.
For a party that likes war and guns, Republicans seem pretty cowardly when asked to defend their policy positions.
The solution is simple: “third-party” candidates should be included in all televised presidential debates when their policy positions align with the will of the majority of voters. Candidates from established parties, like the Green Party and Libertarian Party, should also be included.
Republicans and Democrats claim that you are wasting your vote if you vote for a third party candidate, “but what is more of a wasted vote than voting for someone that you don’t believe in?” asks Governor Gary Johnson.[i]
[i] Governor Johnson came to UT campus this fall, and you can watch his speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP9_qxclKzU
Robert W. B. Love Jr. is a Master’s of Public Affairs student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He is also a former editor for the LBJ Journal of Public Affairs and the Baines Report. Robert hosts the radio and television show Lone Star Politics every Wednesday evening from 8-9 pm. Listen at 91.7 FM, KVRX or watch on Public Access Television, Channel 10. www.LoneStarPoliticsRadio.com