So when it comes to the first presidential debate, only Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, the two most-hated candidates in recorded history, will be allowed to participate.
Here are four good reasons why Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president who is a former two-term governor of New Mexico, should be allowed to participate. And here's a bone for supporters of the Green Party's candidate, Jill Stein: At least some apply to her as well.
1. 15 percent makes no sense.
The Commission on Public Debates, which was created by the Republican and Democratic Parties in 1987, says participants must average 15 percent in five polls they choose. But why 15 percent? If you're going to insist on a poll-driven number, 5 percent makes far more sense. That's the number you need to hit to receive federal matching funds and it's also the level that most states insist on for a party to receive "major-party status" and thus not have to jump through a bunch of ballot-access hoops every election.
FWIW, according to RealClearPolitics' latest roundup of national polls, Johnson was at 8.6 percent just after the commission turned him down, which was higher than what independent candidate Ross Perot was at in 1992 when he was invited to the debate.
2. He's on the ballot in all 50 states.
Johnson is on the ballot in all 50 states, so he can theoretically win the election but more realistically, he will totally influence the outcome. In fact, a recent state-by-state poll had the guy in double digits in 42 states and at 15 percent or better in 15 of those. What the hell is going on when a figure who will be on every American's ballot isn't given a shot to make his case on the same stage as the Republican and Democrat?
3. Americans want more choices at the ballot box.
According to Gallup, 60 percent of us say the Democrats and Republicans do such a poor job that a third major party is needed" to represent our views at the ballot box. Just 38 percent say the Dems and the Reps are getting the job done. And get this: A Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that 76 percent of likely voters believe "a third-party candidate who is certified on a majority of state ballots should be included."
4. Donald Trump wants third parties included (or at least he did in 2000).
Here's a charming bit of video from 2000, when the debate commission announced its 15 percent rule for the first time. Donald Trump himself argued forcefully that the Reform Party candidate, Pat Buchanan, and the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, and others should participate in the presidential debates and the only reason they were being excluded was that Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore were scared of competition. Minnesota's then-Gov. Jesse Ventura introduces Trump by calling the exclusion of third parties "despicable" and noting that if he hadn't been allowed to debate Democrat Humbert Humphrey III and Republican Norm Coleman, he never would have become governor.
Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie.
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