After the four-way third party presidential debate held on October 23, 2012, the public had the opportunity to vote for their favorite candidates to participate in debate focused on international issues and foreign policy. The clear winner was Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson with a total of 28,149 votes, with Jill Stein coming in second with 15,305 votes. They beat out Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson and Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode.
The debate has been rescheduled from Tuesday October 30 to November 5, 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy, but will be 90 minutes long featuring questions from the moderator as well as questions submitted by viewers via social media. Due to the freer nature of the debate structure, I am sure that the public can expect questions that weren’t asked during the major party debates.
The major party debates are run by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and they decide who gets to participate and who stays at home. The CPD has routinely excluded third party candidates from the major debate and this year lost three sponsors due to their exclusion of Johnson. Unfortunately, as long as the CPD continues to exclude thesecandidates, the American public will continue to be stuck with a two-party presidential election process. The major party debates are a significant platform and third party participation could have a great impact on the political dialogue of the country. Until such a change occurs, the third party presidential debate is the best way to hear new ideas and learn about all of the voting options.
Jill Stein - Green Party
In terms of foreign policy, Stein believes in cutting the Pentagon budget in half. She vehemently opposes the use of drones and the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. Stein wants to focus on human rights and international law as the foundation of America’s interaction with other nations, and would like to increase the push for nuclear disarmament.
Gary Johnson - Libertarian Party
Johnson stresses the importance of bringing the troops home from many deployment areas and not just Iraq and Afghanistan. He also states says and indefinite detention should not be tools used to combat terrorism.
On paper, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have very similar ideas regarding international affairs, and in this debate it will be extremely important that they take time to differentiate themselves. Secondly, Stein and Johnson must offer alternatives instead of simply saying that the current system is bad. The American Public needs to see candidates that offer viable options and idealistic statements will not have as much impact on American foreign policy discourse as will concrete new ideas.
For more information about the upcoming debate between Gary Johnson and Jill Stein check out debate sponsor Free and Equal. Stay tuned to PolicyMic for liveblog coverage of the debate next week.