There was a clear winner tonight in the 3rd party debate but I’ll get to that in a second.
I want to thank the organizers at Free And Equal, including Christina Tobin, who put it together. In tonight’s debate, there were many subjects that the two major party candidates haven’t covered at all. At this 3rd party debate, those issues were finally heard. I wasn’t crazy about some of the questions but it’s clear that the audience members had a more libertarian POV and wanted to hear about drug laws. That’s fine. I think that question has a place but this year, it really is the economy, stupid. So while I appreciate that several candidates thought we were wasting our time and money locking pot smokers up for 50 years, I really wish there had been more economic questions.
As for the clear winners and losers, Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein did really well. I was particularly impressed with Anderson. His proposal for a new constitutional amendment, a New ERA guaranteeing the equality of gender and sexual orientation was the first thing I thought of when I heard the question. But I was also favorably surprised by Stein’s proposal for a constitutional amendment rolling back Citizens United and asserting that corporations are not persons.
Anderson also made strong points on the abuse of the unitary executive theory, constitutional violations of our civil liberties via the NDAA, Patriot Act and drones and assassinations. But he also hit on some issues that the other candidates passed by like poverty among children, income inequality, plutocracy and corruption and the negative effects that these problems have on our democracy.
Jill Stein was located more in the environmental side of the issues and she made some good points about students being indentured to their lenders for their student loans. But I didn’t agree with her that everyone was entitled to a free college education. I would be happy with an affordable one. In contrast, Anderson felt that it was also important to encourage students who wanted to pursue a technical education and I wholeheartedly agree. A good auto mechanic is worth her weight in gold. The world will always need good plumbers, electricians, hairstylists and chefs. These people require training and experience too and should be paid well. Not everyone should go to a four year college right out of high school. Sometimes, you need a decade to figure out what you really want to do. And pushing students into college when they aren’t ready or have no interest will only result in diluting the curriculum for other students. So, I think this was a very good answer.
The other two candidates, Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson, were on the deficit hawk side of the equation. Goode, in particular, wasn’t that much different than your standard Republican. His big issue was term limits. Gary Johnson seemed to love nothing better than himself. He’s the Ron Paul candidate and seems to have picked up Ron Paul’s supporters. He stuck pretty close to the facile argument that we need to balance our budget like a household does. Rocky Anderson was the only candidate who had a firm grasp on Depression economics when he said that while interest rates are low, it is a good idea to spend money to stimulate the economy and he was the only candidate who was prepared to propose a Works Progress Administration program to put the unemployed back to work.
So, I think Anderson won this debate hands down. He had a comprehensive worldview of justice based on economic, constitutional and egalitarian principles. It’s a shame that he doesn’t have an opportunity to debate the major party candidates because he’s the only one that actually sounds like a Democrat who is appealing to Democrats.
There’s going to be another 3rd party debate next week. I recommend that disenfranchised voters watch it. And I have to note that Larry King did a pretty good job as moderator. He was a good enforcer. The format was a bit screwed up at first but I think the questions and answers flowed rather well and no one hogged the microphone overly long. Kudos to King for pulling that off.
Bottom line after this debate: If you are looking for a third party candidate this year, you have two pretty good choices. Rocky Anderson could and should be competitive with the major party candidates and Jill Stein has her heart in the right place. She got stronger as the debate progressed, which I found reassuring. If you find their names on your ballot, you should feel confident that your vote won’t be wasted. The more votes they get, the better the visibility of important issues that were otherwise drowned out this year.
Last point: I think it was Gary Johnson who said tonight, “It makes no sense to waste your vote on someone you don’t believe in”. It was probably one of the only sensible things he said all night. I agree. The people who are throwing away their votes are the ones who are so scared of the other side winning that they are willing to sacrifice everything they believe in to vote for a guy they don’t really like.
You don’t have to settle.