Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, has been struggling to make the 15% in 5 polls necessary in order to appear on the debate stage along with Clinton and Trump. For anyone not with a D or R next to their name, this is an almost impossible slog.
This is more or less by design. As I covered in depth in a previous article, the Commission on Presidential Debates is the organization that oversees the rules of the debate stage. CPD was founded via closed door meetings between Republicans and Democrats, and have been putting forth the rules since 1988. Since then, the commission has made it difficult for any 3rd parties to reach the stage, and due to its unfair system has undergone more than a few lawsuits.
However, head of the CPD, Frank Fahrenkopf, has indicated that he might look the other way for any candidate close, but not close enough.
While the commission vehemently denies it, Fahrenkopf acknowledged the prevailing sensitivity about political elites obstructing outsiders. He even suggested it might consider giving an inch to a third-party candidate who is close enough to the cutoff point.
How loose Fahrenkopf will make the rules in order for Johnson to gain entry wasn’t discussed in detail, but this could play out very well for Johnson, who continues to hover around 9% and 12% depending on which poll you go to.
Earlier, it was reported in a CNN poll that Johnson holds 15% approval ratings in the midwest states, where a good portion of the swing vote resides. This makes Johnson a danger to the two mainstream candidates who rely on those votes to carry them to the finish line.
Since Johnson is appearing on ballots nationwide, and bleeding votes from the other two parties like an IV, then it would seem only fair to allow him on the stage. If not to make America more aware of who they are voting for in lieu of Trump or Clinton, but to allow the other two to face the man who has been making them both weaker.
This would also do much to assuage the current feeling amongst 3rd party politicians and advocates who say that the commission is purposefully trying to keep Libertarian and Green parties off the stage, and out of the spotlight.
Darrell England of The Libertarian Republic writes on how Trump’s complaining about the debates being rigged.
“…he may have triggered the commission to show some leniency to a “third party” in response to a growing concern of “minor” parties feeling “blocked” from the debates. This act of good faith may actually help put out some of the negative images the bipartisan commission has received concerning a “rigged” system for many others if this reach is actually extended to include a “third party” candidate.”
It’s hard not to draw that conclusion when the commission to control the debates is strictly a Democrat/Republican venture. Including Johnson would do some good to help throw the fears aside. Still, it would be better if the debate rules were changed altogether to allow any serious candidate on the stage to state their case.