First off, the BIG NEWS! If you liked what you saw, Free and Equal Debate Foundation announced that a second third party debate will take place in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday. The top two voted on candidates from this debate will square off at the nation’s capital on international policy issues.
Now that the big news has been spilled, time to talk debate winners. Each candidate did a decent job overall, but it became clear when talking about college education who was left- leaning and was more right-leaning. Amid a very audible applause, both Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party advocated for 100% free public university education or vocational training. The problem is that neither candidate said how they would pay for it, or if it would just be a 100% government takeover of the post-secondary education system. On the same issue, Virgil Goode received some boo’s for saying that we simply could not afford it, and that it was not the job of the federal government to do so anyways. Johnson, who also shared that position, did not receive the same reaction.
Here is my report card for each of the candidates who participated in the debates tonight:
Jill Stein: B-
She did a good job at articulating her points, but never really talked about any details, which left me wondering how she planned to pay for everything she promised. Free college education, student bailouts, and jumpstarting the green industry all sound good, but the only plan she seemed to have to pay for all of it was to “cut military spending.” No numbers were talked about, and no other proposals were mentioned. In a way, she reminded me of Romney. Her style was much more aggressive and loud, which made it hard to forget, but when you are loud and you don’t really talk about how you are going to do things (other than mentioning her website several times), it makes one feel uneasy about her intentions.
Rocky Anderson: B
While he made many of the same mistakes and promises as Jill Stein, he was much more articulate in his stances on the waste of the War on Drugs, and his opposition to issues like the NDAA, drone strikes, and adhering to the Constitution when talking about war in general. Still, he suffered many of the same issues that Jill Stein had, most notably a lack of a plan to pay for free education. Overall, he gave a decent performance, but it was also easily forgettable.
Virgil Goode: C
Virgil was the only candidate that just could not connect with the audience. While some may have been put off by his very, very heavy southern accent, it was his unapologetic tone that, while detracted from his message, also kept him from being easily dismissed. Most of the chorus of boos came when he said that he would not end the War on Drugs or legalize marijuana, and his only concession was that he would reduce the amount of money spent on the War on Drugs. His inability to overcome the hurdle surrounding marijuana keeps him from being a C+ or a B-.
Gary Johnson: A-
Johnson came off as the most knowledgeable the entire night, and easily connected with the audience from the beginning. He was able to stand against free education entirely, as Goode did, but did not receive the vocal disapproval that Goode did. He talked about real numbers when discussing marijuana legalization (and even mentioned how Colorado, a swing state, was going to be voting on a marijuana legalization bill in November), cutting down the Military Budget (cutting it 43%, which would bring it back to 2003 levels), and was unafraid to joke around a bit with the crowd. His biggest problem was that he didn’t appear to be very Presidential, and at times got a little too comfortable in his posture and word choice.
While I doubt that it will make a ton of difference come November, the Free and Equal Debates definitely set the stage for a transformation in modern American politics.
For a full recap of the debate and live coverage, see here.