Gary Johnson and the empty chair at the first presidential debate

So far, most Americans haven’t heard of him. As far as the CPB is concerned, his campaign doesn’t even warrant an empty chair.

TAMPA, October 5, 2012 – The first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was staged by professional television producers. The podiums were positioned such that they were turned three quarters toward each other but still facing the cameras and just the right distance apart to make for a good wide shot of the two candidates.

In addition to an informative debate, the producers also wanted to deliver a first-rate television production.

The results were up to the standard one would expect on such an occasion, but if the producers really wanted to make the most effective use of their medium, they should have taken a page from Clint Eastwood’s playbook. There should have been an empty chair right in the middle of the stage, between the two podiums.

Philosophically speaking, it might have represented the entire range of opinions and ideas that fall outside of what best-selling author Tom Woods calls “the Mitt Romney-Hillary Clinton Continuum.” They are all of the ideas that we little people are apparently not allowed to even hear.

More specifically, the chair would have represented Gary Johnson, a former two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party nominee for President.

As the two major parties continue to lead the United States down the road to disaster, Americans consistently say that a third party is needed. Yet, in election after election, only the candidates nominated by Republicans and Democrats are seen or heard from in day-to-day television coverage or the debates.

Why is that?

Ben Swann, host of the popular “Reality Check” on Fox’s Cincinnati affiliate WXIX-Fox19, did an interesting story about that. According to Swann, the League of Women Voters ceased moderating presidential debates in the 1980’s because “the demands of the two parties would perpetuate a fraud on the American people.”

So who stepped in to pick up the ball? The alleged defrauders themselves, of course.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPB) was formed in 1987 to “ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.” The problem is that the commission was created and is run by the two major parties. Swann continues,

“The commission is headed up by Frank Fahrenkopf, a former head of the Republican National Committee, and former Clinton White House Press Secretary, Michael D. McCurry.”

Do these two long-time party insiders answer to a board that includes representatives from the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party or Reform Party? Of course not. See for yourself.

So, in the marketplace of ideas, Americans really don’t have a free market any more than they do in the economic marketplace. What they have is a “public-private partnership” (a.k.a. “fascism”) wherein a few dominant players get together with the government to make rules that insulate the major parties from competition. In return, both parties promote substantively the same pro-government platform.

Some people might say that the Libertarian Party or the Green Party is too “extreme” for most Americans to honestly consider. The Libertarian Party would eliminate almost everything the federal government does and restore it to its strict, constitutional limits. The Green Party comes from the other end of the spectrum, making supposed socialist Barack Obama look like Warren G. Harding by comparison.

I have news for those not paying attention. America has extreme problems. They are not going to be solved by better management of the same programs. The root causes of America’s colossal debt and perpetual war lay in fundamental assumptions about the role of government - assumptions that are not challenged by either of the two major parties.

Regardless of whether you ultimately conclude that any of the third parties have viable solutions, do you really think the decision about whether their ideas are heard should be made by their competitors? Should Exxon and Chevron be in charge of licensing new oil firms?

Gary Johnson is the most “mainstream” candidate to emerge on a third party ticket in modern history. He won two terms as governor as a Republican in a state dominated by Democrats. He isn’t looking to establish a libertarian utopia. He’s looking to do what is necessary now, which is balance the budget and get the United States out of its Middle Eastern quagmire before it meets the same fate as Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

While Obama and Romney prattle away at each other about what amounts to messing with the dials on a very broken machine, Gary Johnson offers viable alternatives. His record and electoral success in the past may not translate into a presidential victory in 2012, but his views at least deserve to be heard.

So far, most Americans haven’t heard of him at all. Not from the “unbiased” media. Not in the first debate. As far as the CPB is concerned, his campaign doesn’t even warrant an empty chair.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.


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Thomas Mullen

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. He writes weekly columns on his blog and has been featured on The Daily Caller, The Huffington Post, Daily Paul, LewRockwell.com, 321 Gold! and Peter Schiff’s EuroPac.net. Tom has been a guest on Fox’s Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Adam Vs. the Man, Free Talk Live, and numerous other programs.

Tom is originally a native of Buffalo, NY and graduate of Canisius College. He earned a Master’s Degree in English from State University of New York College at Buffalo. He now resides with his family in Tampa, FL.

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