Third-party candidates excluded from presidential debates: a snub too many | Dave Schilling

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are not good enough to take part in these television shouting matches? That is absurd

Free speech in the United States is having a rough go of it lately. Everywhere I turn, theres some misanthrope whinging about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernicks Star-Spangled Banner protest. How dare he denigrate the stars and stripes, a venerable symbol of protest against tyranny, by protesting?

Then theres the third-party candidates running for president. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green party candidate Dr Jill Stein, despite surprisingly potent campaigns that are tapping into wellsprings of dissatisfaction with the status quo, will very likely be held out of the upcoming debates. Theyre still free to campaign and, because theyre not black NFL players, they can go about saying what they please. They just cant do it in front of the largest possible audience.

Ladies and gentlemen of the American electorate, its finally time for you to rise up and demand that third-party presidential candidates be allowed to debate with their Republican and Democratic peers. Yes, its a far more democratic way to go about this electing the leader of the free world business, but more importantly, Im starting to feel sorry for these candidates.

Johnson and Stein are desperate to get the arbitrary 15% support in national polls they need in order to qualify for the contests.

When desperation sets in, its natural to behave irrationally. Perhaps thats why internet pirates posted an illegal stream of the MTV Video Music Awards on the open forum of Steins website, thereby making her official page the first Google search result when looking for illicit VMA viewing. Only a couple days earlier, Stein chose to publicly mourn the death of Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe, a posthumous internet sensation who was killed before it could maul a human child back in May.

Stein issued a statement on 1 June calling for Harambes demise to be a wake-up call to fight for the rights of animals. Last week, she dug up that statement and tweeted it out again, inserting herself into the most irritating internet moment since the hot mugshot guy.

Harambe is so popular that in a recent poll of likely voters in Texas, the gorilla was pulling 2% of the electorate equal to one Dr Jill Stein. I would call the use of a dead gorilla to score points with young people opportunistic, but who hasnt made a buck off this poor primate?

Its not just Stein pandering either. An unaffiliated Facebook group supporting Johnson mocked up this <a href=”https://i.reddituploads.com/2b69d21740304e9f871c90a6aadc7d14?fit=max&h=1536&w=1536&s=b68d7fc23db7b6fbcb29cd756a6eca47″ data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>poster, which features their candidate of choice juggling two balls while riding a unicycle a parody of the popular Dat Boi meme, with Johnson filling in for a computer generated frog.

If Johnson and Stein wont be allowed to compete on a level playing field with their well-heeled opponents through the debates, then the only equitable resolution to this issue is for Clinton and Trump to be required to debase themselves for attention in the same fashion as their competitors. Our presidential candidates of the future shall wage meme war in lieu of stodgy, 20th century televised IRL shouting matches.

What is a debate, if not a series of disconnected nuggets of easily digestible information, regurgitated ad nauseum for the benefit of the easily manipulated? The talking points are designed, honed and manicured with the explicit purpose of disseminating them across the media landscape over and over and over again. The gaffes, the zingers and the catchphrases are nothing more than proto-memes packaged in the real world and transmitted to your TV set.

If this is how political discourse is going to be for the remainder of my time on this planet, then at least quit pretending and put our candidates on unicycles and make them juggle for our amusement. Or better yet, tell them they have to play football.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/30/third-party-candidates-presidential-debates-jill-stein-gary-johnson

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