By Jerry Li
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off at the second presidential debate on Sunday, October 10th, discussing everything from Trump’s controversial comment about women’s anatomy to personal antagonism against debate moderators. In other words, the candidates abandoned policy details and ideas for what could be viewed as a different, comedic side of the race.
Policy talk did occasionally pop up (Clinton and Trump extensively discussed issues such as Syria and Russia, for example), but many questions were left unanswered. Climate change, an issue that could soon have catastrophic impacts on the environment and economy, was only mentioned once throughout the ninety-minute-long program. Continuing with the small amount of policy-based debate, the first debate’s moderator, Lester Holt, asked no questions about abortion and poverty, as well as climate change, all important policy issues. With such issues being downplayed by the Democrats and Republicans, some think it would be beneficial
to resurface those issues via introduction of third-party candidates in presidential debates.
Meet the (Other) Candidates
Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party are widely viewed to be the most viable third party candidates based on recent polling. Here’s a brief overview of the two candidates:
Gary Johnson was the Republican Governor of Mexico and the CEO of a medical marijuana firm, Cannabis Sativa Inc. Johnson’s policies during his governorship included advocating for the extension of the death penalty to minors (which would eventually change), cutting social programs, supporting private prisons, and (starting his second term) supporting marijuana. Johnson’s present policies support ending the drug war, foreign non-intervention, legalizing abortion, and abolition of the death penalty. His running mate, Bill Weld, is former Governor of Massachusetts.
Jill Stein is a physician and a former member of Lexington, Massachusetts’ town meeting for the 2nd district. Stein has not implemented her policies at the state or the federal level. Her policies include ending all wars, the death penalty, a national healthcare system that will be included as a part of a “Green New Deal,” and legalizing abortion. in addition to the environmentalism that characterizes many Green candidates. Her running mate is Ajamu Baraka, a human rights lawyer.
Johnson and Stein have not qualified for the first two debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which sanctions the debates and has been accused of bias toward the two party system, requires all candidates to have an average of 15% or above in the average of polls. The last third party presidential candidate to have participated Commission-sanctioned debates was Ross Perot, an independent candidate who polled at 18.9% on election day in 1992. The libertarian Johnson is currently polling at around 10%, give or take a few percentages; Stein is polling at around 5%, perhaps less. In any case, neither qualify for the third and final presidential debate, which takes place on October 19, 2016, as of October 13. However, one can only imagine what the debates would be like if they were a presence. Both third party candidates have focused extensively on policy in interviews, speeches, and town halls. And in a debate culture where there is more of a focus on tax returns and “tiny hands”, a debate on policy may be just what voters need.
What does Upper Dublin think of them?
Many Upper Dublin residents seem to know little about the third party candidates, but recognize the need for one (or two). When asked about the Greens and Libertarians, Jonathan Li, a sophomore, noted, “I don’t know. I mean, I’ve heard about them, but I don’t know.”
A parent whom I asked the same question more or less repeated his words. However, she noted, “I don’t really like Clinton or Trump.”
An anonymous Upper Dublin student knew the third-party candidates. After an initial, “I don’t feel politically literate though,” he said, “Gary Johnson seems like kind of a fool, so probably (I’d vote for) Jill Stein.”
Mr. Dwyer, an Upper Dublin history teacher, was asked to describe the third party candidates in three words: “Should be relevant,” he said.
Kevin Zhu, a sophomore who is known for sarcastic political comments, stood nearby. In reference to Gary Johnson’s failure to understand that Aleppo is a city in the Middle East of importance in the war against ISIS, Zhu jokingly answered, “An Aleppo moment.”