…and Gary Johnson is not included.
So, quite naturally, Johnson supporters are crying about how biased the Commission on Presidential Debates is, how unfair it is, how partisan it is, and how it tries to keep third parties down. In fact, there is a petition circulating now to review the PDC’s tax exempt status.
How very libertarian! “You didn’t do what we want, so the state should steal from you!”
I’m of the mind that the requirement should be halved, and that 7.5% in national polls is a reasonable requirement, but that 15% is certainly too high. We can absolutely have a discussion about the requirement, but not until Johnson supporters are ready to act like adults, instead of like petulant children running to get Uncle Sam because the mean poopy heads didn’t do something.
It should tell you how extraordinarily far from libertarianism Johnson supporters have gotten that they’d even consider such a tactic. It is wholly appalling, and anyone who signs the petition should find themselves removed from the Libertarian Party’s membership lists for violating their oath. Why?
Because the Libertarian Pledge is an affirmation that a person does not believe in using force or violence to achieve their political goals.
Asking the state to go rob someone because they didn’t do what you want is quite obviously a violation of that pledge, and this private institution has only a few requirements of its members; the most important one–no, the defining one–is that force, violation, and coercion are unacceptable methods of achieving a political goal.
The CPD made their requirements clear: a candidate has to reach 15% in major national polls to qualify for their privately operated debates.
“But they’re tax exempt!” I hear Johnson supporters saying. “So the rules are different–that makes them a political institution, so they should be unbiased!”
But everyone should be tax exempt. That’s the Libertarian position, even among the classical liberals who swell the party’s ranks these days. Taxation is theft, after all, and the state should be robbing no one. That they are free from being robbed by the state doesn’t mean they are beholden to you or anyone else. They are still a private institution, and they can run their debates however they want.
If you don’t like their requirements, you are perfectly free to organize your own debates. Should you do this, would you like being forced to include Vermin Supreme in your debate–because, if you don’t, the state will start robbing you?
It would be one thing if the CPD excluded Johnson after he reached 15%. Then you could accuse them of bias and partisanship. Johnson, however, has not come anywhere near that threshold, regardless of the data his campaign cherry picks.
Let’s think about this in similar terms. Let’s say I agree to give you $5,000 so that you can buy a car if you can get together the other $15,000 you need. After trying hard for a while, the date arrives whereupon I had to make a decision, and you only had $7,000. Regrettably, I shook my head and told you that I wouldn’t give you the $5,000.
Then you accuse me of being unfair, of cheating, of not wanting you to have a car.
Analogies are really useful, because they tear people away from the immediate situation, where emotions often run high, and present them with the same basic thing but without the personal emotions getting in the way. Here we see that the person calling me unfair because I didn’t give them $5,000 is an entitled brat, a screaming child not worthy of serious conversation.
I wanted Johnson in the debates. I don’t like him and won’t vote for him, but I did want him included. The CPD even said they’d probably accept 13%, and expressed a willingness to be lenient. Johnson didn’t come anywhere close to that, though.
Johnson supporters have drank the Kool-Aid that Johnson is serving them, and it seems they don’t have any understanding of where their candidate truly stands. For months of telling people that he’s polling higher than he really was, Johnson is responsible for this. He is, and has always been, a fringe candidate.
I understand their frustration. They put everything into the Johnson basket and the hope that he could break into the mainstream. They knowingly and willingly brought in a Republican to be his Vice President, and they cut away pretty much every libertarian position until Johnson fit in the mainstream pants. They bet everything and all the party’s principles on the foolish conceit that Johnson would be successful.
Haven’t they been saying that for months?
“Johnson is the only one who can win the White House!”
“A true Libertarian could never win!”
“Only a moderate like Johnson can be successful!”
Yes, and I’ve written about that numerous times; I’ll not do so again. They truly believed the crap they were saying, though. They genuinely believed that Johnson could secure the White House, could defeat Trump and Hillary, and could definitely reach 15%. They put everything up as collateral on that bet, even as we begged them not to and told them that it wouldn’t work.
Then the dealer called our hands, and now they’re watching as someone else grins and licks their lips while they rake in the chips. Johnson supporters bet everything on his “mainstream appeal,” and now they’re realizing that they lost that bet and now have nothing left.