The final third party presidential debate between Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein is Monday at 9pm EST at RT America Studios in Washington, D.C. Johnson and Stein earned the right to debate one-on-one after participating in a four-way debate last month with Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson and Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode. After that debate, online voters chose Johnson and Stein to square off in the final debate, held by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation. No third party candidates were allowed to participate in the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney because none garnered 15% in an independent poll, as required for inclusion by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has held every debate since 1988.
10:27pm: Debate over.
10:21pm: Johnson says he favors government-mandated labeling of food because consumers know what they should be getting.
10:10pm: Johnson says the U.S. needs austerity and a balanced budget, or else the country will face a monetary collapse.
10:08pm: Johnson wants to end the drug war!
9:58pm: Johnson says that he doesn't believe Wikileaks is a threat. Says that he believes in transparency.
9:52pm: Johnson says that the government is well-intentioned, and even praised the federal government for its handling of fires in Los Alamos when he was governor. However, he points out that the fire had been started by the government as a controlled fire.
9:45pm: Johnson says he believes climate change is man-made, but doesn't think humans can do much to change it.
9:44pm: Stein just referred to some publication she called "the economic magazine." Never heard of that one.
9:39pm: Johnson warns the U.S. on aiding the Syrian rebels. Says aiding the Afghani jihadists in the 1980s in their war against the Soviet invasion should've taught us something.
9:33pm: Johnson is staunchly against foreign aid. Says the money is taken from poor people in the U.S. and given to rich people in non-democratic countries, and to prop up those governments. Cites Romney's absurd third debate remark that the U.S. should continue giving aid to Pakistan because it has nuclear weapons. Johnson asserts this sends the wrong message, namely that to get any respect from the U.S., a country should acquire nuclear weapons.
9:31pm: Stein and Johnson very much in agreement on drone attacks and military intervention overseas. Both cite civilian casualties. Johnson says the U.S. was founded by fighting back against a bully, but that now the U.S. has become the bully.
9:26pm: Stein does not appear to have a very good understanding of the 2008 financial crisis beyond talking points. The general gist of her remarks are correct, but she's missing the specific details. Says subprime loans were bundled into fraudulent mortgages. No, they were bundled into derivatives called mortgage-backed securities, which were then fraudulently peddled to investors as safe investments.
9:24pm: Ok, I like Gary Johnson, but why is he yelling in his responses?
9:20pm: So much for cordiality! Johnson calls Stein's remarks about corporate taxes, "baloney." Not sure why Johnson is yelling, literally yelling, when he can make the point just fine without doing that.
9:18pm: A presidential debate first: Johnson mistakenly interrupted Stein and apologized. Refreshing!
9:17pm: Johnson calls for the implementation of the fair tax.
9:13pm: Johnson advocates a corporate tax rate of 0%, asserting this would be such a massive incentive that companies would flock to the U.S. Says current rate of 35% has made the U.S. an unfavorable place to do business. He said the phrase, "zero corporate tax rate" about 37 times in this response.
9:12pm: Johnson says he thinks free trade is a "good thing," and that it needs to be separated from jobs.
9:11pm: Stein is hammering away at free trade, saying instead we need "fair trade." I'm not hearing many specifics from Stein, unfortunately.
9:08pm: Moderator Thom Hartmann after Stein's opening remark: "Thank you Dr. Stein. That was brilliant." Hey, Thom, know your role.
9:05pm: Stein wants a "Green New Deal" that she says will create 25 million new jobs.
9:05pm: Johnson wants to abolish the IRS and the Federal Reserve. Cites the Fed's zero interest loans to major financial institutions.
9:03pm: Gary Johnson opening statement. Says U.S. is in "big trouble" and that we should start by not bombing Iran, bring the troops home from Afghanistan. Says same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right, and wants to end the drug war.
8:59pm: T-minus one minute.
6:53pm: In the last debate, Johnson gave a killer reason as to why, contrary to the popular refrain, a vote for a third party candidate is not a wasted vote. The remark is at 1:40, but the whole response is worth watching.
6:31pm: What is remarkable about the ideologies of the Libertarian and Green parties is that in the context of American politics, their underlying assumptions are so similar, but their policy prescriptions are so different. Both parties agree that the government is beholden to corporate interests and that it doesn't work for the vast majority of the American people. However, Libertarians argue that this is simply an inherent bi-product of all government — a tendency toward corruption and client politics. And so the answer for them is to strip government of all but the most basic and necessary powers and functions. Greens, on the other hand, believe that government is capable of being improved, and that it can be made to work for general population. For Libertarians, the problem lies with government. For Greens, the problem lies with this government.
5:33pm: The rise of libertarian sentiment over the last several years is attributable in part to the disillusionment many Americans have with the two-party system, as well as government in general. This is especially true among younger Americans. At the heart of libertarian thought is the notion that government is often incompetent and worse, a threat to liberty. The last decade has provided no shortage of examples, as civil liberties have been eroded, especially since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and a divided Congress has proved unable to deal with national problems in a timely manner.
For all intents and purposes, Johnson is the successor to Ron Paul, whose failed presidential bid this year generated the support of a relatively small but passionate following of voters who favor a limited government role in both domestic and international affairs. Stein also advocates significantly scaling back the U.S. military and its involvement overseas. Both have said that would end the war in Afghanistan immediately, and close down military bases in other countries.
However, on domestic policy, Johnson and Stein could not be further apart. Whereas Johnson believes that government should only exercise those powers expressly granted to it by the Constitution, Stein favors a much broader interpretation — one that has led her to call for a universal single-payer health care system, and free higher education for the nation's students.
Although neither candidate in tonight's debate will be elected president, that hardly means they will not impact this election. Johnson, who originally ran for president as a Republican at the beginning of this campaign before accepting the Libertarian nomination, may succeed in siphoning enough votes away from Romney in swing states to cost him key electoral votes and even the election.
PolicyMic will provide coverage of the debate tonight, including a live stream and a live blog.