Want to put a piranha in the political fish tank? Allow Gary Johnson in the Presidential Debates

The Photo: Gary Johnson 2012 Official Photo

HAWAII, July 23, 2012 — The most savvy thing that America’s TV networks could possibly do this year is to promote Gary Johnson with the intent of placing him in at least one, if not all of the Fall presidential debates. Such a move would almost certainly drive viewership and interest in the debates to stratospheric levels, and Johnson’s penchant for snappy redirects and crowd-winning zingers would be the kind of fan service that scratches the itch for spontaneous, unscripted reality TV.

America got a taste of Johnson’s flair during his candidacy as a Republican, first when he released on YouTube an edited video of him participating a debate he had been excluded from, then later when he was included in the Florida debate and delivered a knockout quip about how “my next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this president.”

Gary Johnson’s mastery of redirect and snappy comments make him perfect for a TV debate. (Photo: Gary Johnson 2012 Campaign)


To be honest, I haven’t enjoyed watching a presidential debate since Reagan told Mondale in 1984, “I am not going to exploit for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” The last few years of presidential debates were absolute snoozefests between almost-insults and failed attempts to look presidential. I say give the mob what they’re looking for – a good political debate that we’ll be talking about for decades. It would be exciting and, more importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

If you’re a supporter of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, you too have a vested interest in making sure Johnson participates, as his presence would likely bring out both the very best and worst of both sides. Politicians are at their best when they have a destabilizing competitive element to keep them in check. Johnson provides that.

Do what you have to do to get Johnson in the debate. It’s a “what-if” TV scenario that not only will be enjoyable, but perhaps will bring out real issues for the first time. Want to put a piranha in the political debate fish tank of polite, statesmanly guppies and quaint underwater castles of partisanship? You’ve gotta get Gary.


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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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