Libertarians, religious leaders criticize two-party debate, push Gary Johnson
As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama prepare to attack each other head-on at the first presidential debate tonight, a group of Libertarians in Colorado -- and others dissatisfied with the two-party system -- are attacking the Commission on Presidential Debates for excluding third parties. A local Libertarian candidate for state representative has helped organize some push-back against the debates, even gathering support from religious leaders.
Morton Brooks, who is running as a Libertarian for a state representative position in the sixth district, has been drumming up support with help from the local Libertarian Party and others to demand that the commission stop excluding third parties -- especially leaders like Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, who, in his view, has innovative ideas that neither Obama nor Romney has proposed.
"We don't have freedom in this country if ideas are being suppressed," Brooks says. "To me personally, I look at it as a two-party dictatorship. They are like two competing businesses, and each one has 50 percent of the business."
When we interviewed Johnson during a visit to Denver in June, he told us that if he was given a chance to participate in the national debates, he felt confident he would take a significant number of votes away from both Obama and Romney -- maybe even enough to win.
Courtesy of Morton Brooks Morton Brooks
Today, representatives from the Libertarian Party in Colorado will be on site at the University of Denver to promote Johnson, says Jeff Orrok, the state party chair.
"If you're a candidate that can get on enough ballots in enough states...you have a chance of getting 270 electoral votes," Orrok says. "That in and of itself is enough of a hurdle that should qualify you for the debates, flat-out."
In fact, Johnson and his running mate have filed a lawsuit in California (it's on view below) against the Commission on Presidential Debates and the Republican and Democratic national committees. It argues that the exclusion of the third party from the televised debates constitutes a violation of United States anti-trust laws. The suit reads, in part:
Plaintiffs thus bring this action to prevent injury to themselves and to the American electorate and to foster competition in the marketplace of both ideas and of those seeking to provide services to the nation in the two highest offices of the land.Brooks considered filing a similar lawsuit locally, but decided he didn't have enough time. He did, however, inspire two religious leaders to urge its members to consider including third parties.
Brian Field, a rabbi with Judaism Your Way, a Denver-based Jewish outreach nonprofit, wrote in a letter dated August 24. It's on view below, but here's an excerpt:
At a time in our nation's history when paralyzing gridlock between the two major parties is becoming the norm, it would seem that the way to provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners would be to include additional perspectives beyond the two established parties. I urge you to change your candidate selection criteria so that the national presidential debates offer a broader spectrum of ideas to the voters of our country. The health of our democracy is at stake.Continue for more about the debate protests.