The third-party presidential debates: Will voting for one of them be worth it or not?

By Jordan Weiker

Campus Life Assistant Editor

 Ralph Nader, perhaps the most recognizable third-party member, will be moderating a third-party presidential debate on Nov. 4. The event will be held at Busboys and Poets Restaurant in Washington D.C. and will be open to credentialed media.

Nader wants the debate to “focus on subjects and issues that have largely been ignored or avoided by the 2012 Republican and Democratic presidential candidates for being too controversial,” according to his website “The Nader Page.”

Nader won’t be the first public figure moderating a 2012 third-party debate though.

Legendary TV anchor Larry King moderated the first third-party 2012 debate on Oct. 23 in Chicago. The event was “organized by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation,” according to C-SPAN and featured debaters from four separate third-parties.

The candidates included Jill Stein of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.

Topics discussed included America’s war on terror, the war on drugs, higher education funding, immigration and gay rights.

One belief shared by the candidates was that America’s two-party system “is controlled by well-funded corporate elitists and that other parties should not be excluded from the electoral process,” according to the Examiner. The candidates agreed on the elimination of Super-PACS.

Due to the success of the first debate, a second debate between finalists Stein and Johnson was aired on C-SPAN and Link TV on Oct. 30.

“Unlike the ‘debates’ between Romney and Obama, these third-party candidates aren’t afraid to provide more than rehearsed talking points for answers,” said Link TV on their website on why they chose to air the debates. Link TV also criticized mainstream media for refusing to air the debates.

In the first debate’s closing statements, perhaps the most daring statement of the night was when Johnson said, “Wasting your vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in. That’s wasting your vote. I’m asking everybody here, I’m asking everybody watching this nationwide to waste your vote on me.”

The real question though is if citizens are wasting their vote by voting for third-party candidates?

“None of the four candidates appear on ballots in all 50 states, though they appear in different combinations in swing states,” said the Chicago Tribune in an online article.

There may be the write-in option on the ballot, but of course, this also can cost elections for two-party candidates.

“Some people consider Ralph Nader to have cost Al Gore the 2000 election in Florida,” said Keith Knutson, a professor of political science and history at Viterbo.

For a third-party candidate to get elected, they’d have to gain major support from the masses, and this would include the electoral college.

“Ross Peret was a third-party candidate who won 20 percent of the popular vote in 1992, but no Electoral College votes,” added Knutson. “This is a big reason why third-parties don’t make much headway.”

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