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Want to See Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Debate? Here's Why You Won't

Digging a little deeper, things get even less transparent: the Commission on Presidential Debates doesn't choose which polls count toward eligibility. They rely on Gallup as an adviser .

So You're Telling Me There's a Chance!

Gallup is a respected company, and it would be hard to question their credibility on political polling. But regardless of credibility, why aren't the deciding polls (remember, Gallup selects five) announced with ample notice ? What if a candidate has been excluded from one or more of the polls ? How can someone win 15% of a popularity contest that he or she isn't allowed to participate in? (This is what I mean by saying that media companies have de facto control over who can participate.)

Putting all of these questions aside, shouldn't constitutional eligibility and ballot access be enough to qualify for the debates? ( Ross Perot made a similar argument in 1996 .)

Obviously, the debates can't be open to every presidential-wannabe, but think back to the last time you were in the voting booth. Were you overwhelmed by choices for president?

Getting on ballots across the country requires time, organization, support and money. That should be difficult enough to weed out the riff-raff, but if you wanted to make it even harder to get an invite to the debates (but not impossible, which for all intents and purposes, the current system is), why not amend the third criterion to read: 15% of public support --OR-- the candidate is eligible for federal matching funds and has received the nomination of their respective party?

Under this system, the 2012 presidential debates might look like this:

  • Barack Obama (Democrat)
  • Mitt Romney (Republican)
  • Gary Johnson (Libertarian)
  • Jill Stein (Green)

Something tells me that this debate would touch on issues more thoughtful than who the real "outsourcer-in-chief" is. And considering that federal tax dollars are, in-part, funding the campaigns of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, it would be nice to hear them talk.

It's been 20 years since a third-party candidate has been invited to debate Republican and Democratic presidential nominees; we all know how political discourse has played out since then. Sometimes, it makes sense to look at the system that is in place and ask ourselves: Is this really the best way to do things? I realize that I'm not the first to say this , but I think we can do better.

-- Written by John DeFeo in New York City


Did You Know? : That the AP presidential delegate count -- one of the most widely-cited scorecards of U.S. presidential primaries -- is tabulated by a single reporter. Learn more here .

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