The mainstream media is focused on two candidates contending for the presidency, President Barack Obama and former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. There are, however, two other candidates who could garner enough electoral votes to win the presidency. They are former Governor Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party. Neither Governor Johnson nor Dr. Stein are slated to participate in the presidential debates. They are being kept out.
Gary Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states. He is being precluded from participating in the debates because the Democrats and Republicans – duopoly that they are – have seen fit to stack the deck against candidates from outside their two parties.
We at CYInterview find it outrageous that a candidate for president – any candidate for president who has a mathematical chance of winning – be excluded from the presidential debates. In the case of Gary Johnson, he has done the work and garnered the support of enough Americans to be included on the ballots of all states. He should be allowed to participate in the debates. His exclusion shocks the conscience.
Accordingly, we invited Governor Gary Johnson – who we have previously CYInterviewed [see here] – to discuss his exclusion from the debates and what can be done about it. Additionally, we thought it would be important to gain a broader perspective on the situation from someone who has spent her life in the pursuit of fairness and protecting the rights of individuals who have been marginalized. Consequently, we invited our friend, famed attorney Gloria Allred, to participate in a panel discussion about the matter along with myself and CYInterview editor-in-chief Chris Yandek.
You can read the transcript of our discussion and/or listen to it in its entirety below:
Listen to the entire CYInterview with Gary Johnson and Gloria Allred:
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Jay Bildstein: I’m Jay Bildstein. With us today on CYInterview is the Libertarian Candidate for President of the United States – he’s been with us previously on CYInterview – former two term governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Governor, good to have you with us.
Gary Johnson: “Jay, great to be on. Thank you for having me on.”
Jay Bildstein: Also joining us is one of the most well known attorneys in the United States today. She’s a tireless fighter for the rights of people she believes have been taken advantage of or marginalized by society, she’s a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, a television star and a good friend of CYInterview, Attorney Gloria Allred. Gloria, great to have you back with us.
Gloria Allred: “Well, thanks very much for having me with you. It’s an honor to be on with Governor Johnson.”
Jay Bildstein: And rounding out today’s panel, a man who needs no introduction, the editor-in-chief of CYInterview, Chris Yandek. Chris, why don’t we get started?
Chris Yandek: Governor Johnson, Attorney Allred, good morning. Thank you so much for being with us again. Governor, you’ve recently sent out a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, seeking the opportunity to be included in the debates, along with President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney. Could you please tell us about the letter?
Gary Johnson: “Well, just that I will be on the ballot in all 50 states. I think that there is a bias against any third party. I will tell you getting on the ballot in all 50 states is almost a superhuman task, the obstacles that are thrown up and that Americans really deserve to just hear alternatives to what have become in my opinion really no choices, but let the American people hear that and make their choices. All I’m asking is for fairness in a process that I’m gonna argue is anything but. It’s very, very exclusionary and it’s exclusionary in ways that we don’t even, we can’t even comprehend.”
Chris Yandek: Jay.
Jay Bildstein: Gloria, isn’t it only fair that Governor Johnson, who is on the ballots in all 50 states – as well as anyone who is on enough ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning the presidency – be included in the presidential debates?
Gloria Allred: “Well, I think as a matter of fairness if he has gone to the trouble and been successful in appearing on the ballot in all 50 states, I think that that is enough or should be enough as a matter of fairness to include him in the debate. After all, what is the point of the debate? The point of the debate should be to help the American people to be able to look at the candidates for whom they may be voting because their names are on the ballot and then they can make an evaluation, hopefully an informed decision about their choice to be President of the United States and if they can’t see or hear in a way that is significant, all serious candidates, serious defined by they’re on the ballot in all 50 states, then I don’t think they’re in a position to make an informed decision.
So even though I’m an elected Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention next week, elected from my congressional district and even though I support President Obama for reelection, still I think as a matter of fairness we should be able to hear from Governor Johnson.”
Jay Bildstein: I kind of hear as you’re speaking Gloria the, have to kind of access my memory from school days, but Voltaire saying something to the effect of he may disagree, but he’d defend to the rights, somebody’s ability to get out there and say something. Are you saying really the same thing really that this is not a question of necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with someone’s politics, but the only way that the American voter can make an informed decision is if they hear from the serious candidates?
And the Litmus test of being serious, if you will, is if you’re on the ballots of all 50 states, obviously enough people have spoken to say we want to have this choice and then, axiomatically, the people should be allowed to hear this interchange of ideas, hopefully of robust interchange between the president, President Obama and former Governor Romney and of course Governor Gary Johnson.
Gloria Allred: “Yes. I definitely think that his politics, his stand on the issues, what he’s advocating and suggesting that he would do if as and when he would become President of the United States are really irrelevant to the issue. Whether we agree with his politics or his public policy positions or not or his past record or not, whether we praise or criticize, it’s just irrelevant. He’s on the ballot in all 50 states, a herculean task to have achieved. He should be on the stage, considered a serious candidate and be able to have that bully pulpit to be heard and to allow the American people to judge for themselves whether or not they would wish to vote for him.”
Jay Bildstein: As the system stands now, a candidate for president has to achieve certain polling numbers in order to be included in the debates. I’ve come to call this process, self-fulfilling prophecy polls. The mainstream media focuses on the candidates they believe will be likely to win the presidency. They give the lion share of their coverage to those candidates. Consumers of that media – who comprise the majority of voters – form their opinions based on that coverage. It isn’t any surprise then – that when these people are polled, they give opinions based on what they have already been fed by the media. Governor, how can voters truly be free to make a choice if they are not given a real opportunity to hear what all the candidates have to say?
Gary Johsnon: “Well, echoing really what both of you have said so eloquently is just how about the notion of giving the choice, how about the notion of offering up an alternative and I’m not suggesting this ends up selling, I’m just believing that Americans are smart, they’re capable of making decisions for themselves, but that this is a process that excludes other issues or other viewpoints that are outside of what they have determined should be the viewpoints that one holds and that would be the two parties.
Now whether or not anything comes of my being included in the debates, that’s secondary I think to just the fairness of being able to present a viewpoint that is way different. Leave the American people to decide whether or not that’s something they want to embrace or not, but give them that opportunity. “
Jay Bildstein: Gloria, in your opinion, how might as I term it this self-fulfilling prophecy pattern be broken?
Gloria Allred: “Well, I think it’s difficult to break. I think you know, you start in the court of public opinion, which is here. You can, you know, then you proceed to see what legal options you have if any. Apparently you know I don’t think that the Congress which is essentially representatives of the two major political parties is going to do anything because they have a vested interest from their point of view in making sure that the spotlight is on their particular political choice and their political leader and so even though they may give other rationales for why they don’t think that a third person should be included in the debate, I mean we all know that it’s a political decision.
So I don’t expect any movement there, but I think that if there were enough human cry and public discussion about it that could help to move you know, move the issue forward and maybe accomplish some change. Other than that, the Governor would need to explore his legal options with those who have expertise in this area and then decide which options if any he wishes to exercise and so really what you have is you have media options to discuss it, you have possibly legal options, you have political options. But I think having this discussion is a good start because it is a question of fairness and I think he is being treated unfairly.”
Jay Bildstein: Gloria, would you in the future, I’m not talking about in this election cycle and you’re already lending your very, very strong voice to fairness right now, but would you in the future consider that if a group of citizens coalesced to simply say that there should be either some law put in place or some kind of change to make the system more equitable, would you take any active role in that, whatsoever, in trying to see that, hey, If somebody’s on the ballots in all 50 states, we come down to this very important national discussion called a debate that these individuals would be included in that debate?
Gloria Allred: “You know, I don’t know. I’d have to see as if and when, what is being proposed and you know the devil’s always in the details and to look and see what role they would ask me to play if any and what my other commitments are at that time because I’ve a lot of, a lot of clients and cases who in my office and many, many clients depending on me to make them a priority. Having said that, you know I’m always open to you know to looking at new proposals and seeing what if any role I should play in those.”
Jay Bildstein: Understood. Governor, do you plan, come what may, whether you’re included in the debates or not, whether you win the presidency or not, do you intend to continue to fight on after this election is over? Will you in effect institutionalize your campaign and continue to strive to bring a sense of equity and fairness to the American voter?
Gary Johnson: “Well, I’ll do that and I’ll do that if I consider my voice to be relevant. I think one of the successes in any of, to one of the determiners of success in our lives is determining whether or not what we say actually does have relevance and at this point I believe it does. Looking forward I hope that’s the case that I hope I’ll be the first one to recognize that if it’s not, if it’s genuinely not that I’ll realize that and step aside and let somebody else take that on. But as long as I’m in this role which I think is relevant and a spokesperson for what I consider to be the fastest growing segment of American politics today, that whole liberty and freedom movement, that I’ll continue to be that spokesperson.”
Jay Bildstein: Chris?
Chris Yandek: Governor, you are going to be on the ballot in all 50 states yet you probably won’t be given the chance to debate the other two major presidential candidates. What do you think it says that, in America, we do not give a fair hearing to voices outside of the Democrat and Republican parties, especially when it comes to something as important as the presidency and what can we do to insure the future presidential elections are open to those who can win by virtue of being on the ballots?
Gary Johnson: “Well, you all are stepping up here and pointing out the inequity. I think when people are made aware of the inequity that they’re overwhelmingly in support of equity, they’re overwhelmingly in support of fairness. It’s just the issue of getting them informed and that’s really a herculean task that is not being fulfilled by the powers that be the media, the major media. They’re not doing it.”
Chris Yandek: Jay?
Jay Bildstein: Governor Gary Johnson, Attorney Gloria Allred thank you both for being with us today on CYInterview.
Gloria Allred: “Well, thank you very much. I think that Gary Johnson getting on the ballot in all 50 states is very, very impressive and I wish him the best of success in having his voice heard.”
Gary Johnson’s campaign website for 2012 President of the United States is at www.garyjohnson2012.com
Gary Johnson’s official Facebook page is here.
Gary Johnson’s official Twitter is here.
You can purchase a copy of Gary Johnson’s new book Seven Principles of Good Government: Gary Johnson on Politics, People and Freedom here
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com Chris is available for interviews to comment on anything featured on CYInterview.
You can follow Chris Yandek on Twitter here.