The Third-Party Debate: Candor, Caring and Clarity

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How refreshing they were. How concerned for America’s citizens, the Constitution, and the country’s future. How clear and straightforward in their stances. How respectful of each other, whether conservative or liberal. How anxious to discuss vital issues the two major candidates wouldn’t touch in their television appearances. For an hour and a half, America seemed to be a democracy.

Clockwise: Johnson, Goode, Anderson, Stein

This was the scene in Chicago last night when four of the nation’s third-party candidates, shunned by corporate media in the three presidential “debates,” shared the stage for 90 minutes. They came armed with unadorned philosophies, fearless accusations, and what they considered faithful solutions which might turn around a nation heavily mired in debt and dissolving freedoms.

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These are the candidates of the nation’s four largest “third parties” who stated their cases, and their administrative and public-service experience:

Ross Carl “Rocky” Anderson of the Justice Party, an attorney and two-term mayor of Salt Lake City; the Constitution Party‘s Virgil Goode, a conservative multi-term Congressman who even when in office supported term limits; Libertarian Gary Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of Democratic-dominated New Mexico; and Jill Stein, a silver-haired, silver-tongued Harvard-trained doctor and candidate for the Green Party.

The tight format allowed two-minute opening statements, two-minute responses to six issue questions followed by one-minute rebuttals, and one-minute closing statements. They didn’t interrupt each other to get an edge nor try to manipulate the national conversation’s course.

“We’re going to shift the power back to the people, back to the origins of the Constitution, which doesn’t even mention parties or corporations,” said Free and Equal Elections Foundation founder Christina Tobin, who hosted the TV airing. It was moderated by former CNN broadcaster Larry King.

RT America broadcast the event that no major TV network, including PBS, seemed to want to offer. RT (Russia Today) is the Russian television network broadcast even in the U.S.-with studios in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. RT has over 2 million viewers in the United Kingdom and RT America is available to 50 million in the United States. It’s the second most-watched foreign news channel after BBC News, and the number one foreign station in five U.S. urban areas, according to Wikipedia. According to Pew Research, it’s also the number one source for the most popular news videos on YouTube, a mainstay of younger Americans’ information and entertainment sources. [CFR learned later today that C-SPAN and Al Jazeera also aired the debate.]

You’ll find a thorough report of the third-party debate, including a video of the active, informative event, here.

You’ll find a broader list of third parties in the U.S. here.