I watched the third party presidential debate on C-Span on Tuesday night. It was either a low budget debate, or else they spent their big budget on hiring Larry King as the moderator. While it is referred to as a third party debate, I think a better term would be a non-establishment debate.
(debate starts around 1 hour and 3 minutes)
It wasn’t that well run and the questions weren’t all that great (although good in comparison to the debates between Romney and Obama). However, it was refreshing to watch as the candidates did talk about issues that you wouldn’t hear from Romney/ Obama.
The four candidates in the debate were as follows:
Jill Stein of the Green Party
Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party
Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party
Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party
Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson were good on foreign policy and civil liberties. Unfortunately, these two wouldn’t recognize a rational economic thought if it hit them on the head. They have no concept of how a free market works and they can’t understand that “free” stuff by the government is not really free.
Virgil Goode is an interesting character to watch. Let’s just say that the Constitution Party took a major step backwards from the last election when they had Chuck Baldwin as their nominee.
Gary Johnson was the most well-spoken of the candidates and he even somewhat impressed me a couple of times. However, most of the time, he seems to come up a little short. He just doesn’t have that radical edge that Ron Paul has. He concentrates on pragmatism and not on morality.
The federal war on drugs was discussed a few times. It was refreshing to hear it even talked about. Virgil Goode makes no sense on this. Isn’t the federal war on drugs illegal under the Constitution unless you pass an amendment like what was done for alcohol prohibition?
Unfortunately, Gary Johnson fell short on this too. He keeps talking about marijuana. But what about the other drugs?
The logical position for any libertarian running for president should be that the federal drug war is unconstitutional and should be ended. It is not even a question of legalization. It should be up to the states to decide that, although I think a wiser policy and a libertarian policy for the states would be to legalize drugs. And yes Gary Johnson, that includes all drugs and not just marijuana.
I like that Johnson says he would balance the budget immediately. This is actually somewhat radical, proposing to cut well over 1 trillion dollars from the federal budget. And by his vetoing record in New Mexico as governor, he might actually follow through.
My biggest frustration with Johnson came at the end with the last question. They were asked, if they could get one constitutional amendment passed, what would it be. Johnson said an amendment for term limits. I’m sorry, but this is lame for a libertarian. Term limits would probably do little to stop the growth of big government. Presidents are term limited and it doesn’t stop them from spending trillions of dollars and making war.
There are so many answers he could have given that would have been acceptable to most libertarians. He could have said an amendment to end central banking and fiat money, an amendment to end the income tax, an amendment to require a direct vote of the American people before sending any military personnel overseas, an amendment to end the federal war on drugs, an amendment to end federal spending on education of any kind, an amendment to cap federal spending at 5% of GDP, etc. The point is, I could think of a hundred constitutional amendments that would be better for liberty than an amendment for term limits.
I should mention, there was also a question about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the provisions to allow the military to arrest and detain American citizens without trial. It is interesting that this question was never asked in three debates to the actual president who signed the legislation.
In conclusion, while I have my criticisms of the debate and some of the positions taken by the candidates, it was a refreshing change from the two establishment candidates. Unfortunately, none of them have a chance of winning. It is doubtful that any of them will break 1%. If any one of them does, it will be Gary Johnson.