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On Wednesday, around 200 supporters of libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson protested outside of the Commission on Presidential Debates headquarters in Washington, DC for the private, non-profit’s decision to exclude Johnson along with Green Party candidate Jill Stein from the debates
THOMAS HEDGES, TRNN: On Wednesday, about 200 supporters of Libertarian presidential candidate Garry Johnson gathered in the nation’s capital to demand that viable independent candidates be allowed on stage in the Presidential debates alongside Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. CHRIS MAGID: Today we had a rally in front of the CPD and that’s the Commission on Presidential Debates and last week they said that Garry Johnson and third party candidates could not attend the upcoming presidential debates so we want to let them know that we’re not really happy with that situation. SPEAKER: They call themselves a nonpartisan commission. I think at this point we can call utter bull crap on that. SPEAKER: To the Commission on Presidential Debates I say shame on you. Shame on you. HEDGES: The CPD said it would exclude Johnson along with Green Party candidate Jill Stein because neither of them had reached the organization’s third criterion for debate which is receiving an average of at least 15% support in 5 specific polls among voters the CPD has selected as their official references. The CPD has long been criticized for excluding third party candidates. But this year the pressure’s mounting as the two major party candidates face historic disapproval ratings and as it’s becoming more and more difficult for the independent nonprofit which was created exclusively by Democrats and Republicans to defend its impartiality. ANGEL COLLINS: He’s on the ballot in all 50 states. Granted every organization has to have standards but this number 15% is an arbitrary number made up by the CPD. MAGID: You’re talking about Republicans that want open debates. You’re talking about Democrats that want open debates. You’re talking about independents that want open debates. Libertarians, Greens. So this is not a partisan issue. I think a lot of people would be surprise to know that a poll like the New York Times poll which is one of the CPD polls at times only polls as little as only 835 people. In some of the polls they only contact people that have Lan lines. So that’s going to skew the polls older. HEDGES: It’s true that younger voters make up the overwhelming support base for Gary Johnson. In a Quinnipiac Act poll that came out last week, Johnson and Clinton were neck and neck among voters age 18-34 in a 4-way race. LINDSEY MILLER: And he’s socially liberal, he’s fiscally conservative. I think we have a high belief in personal responsibility and we’re tired of our taxes getting taken from us when all we’re trying to do is work hard and be good citizens. MIKE DAVIS: This generation with the internet and everything, they’re not as hooked to the mainstream media and they’re kind of just going off of social media and going off of independent media and people are free to make their own choices which is why they’re not just falling in line to the people in the system anymore. HEDGES: Johnson supporters often tout the diversity of their support base. But people here on Wednesday seemed overwhelmingly to lean more Republican than Democrat. COLLINS: I voted in the Republican primary for John Kasich. MILLER: I voted for Marco Rubio. DAVIS: I supported Rand Paul this year before he dropped out. ALEXANDRE RACHEV: I actually voted in the democratic primaries for Bernie Sanders. Not because of his policies but because he is a qualified honest candidate. HEDGES: So you’re a capitalist you would say? RACHEV: Very much. SPEAKER: How many people here are Libertarians? Okay. So how many people here are Republicans, registered? How many people here are Democrats? Be loud Democrats, be loud. And how many people here are independents? HEDGES: While it’s true that according to polls Johnson polls as many voters leaning towards Clinton as are leaning towards Trump, the vast majority of his supporters are political independents energized primarily by Johnson’s message of fiscal conservativism and abhorrence of any kind of government. SPEAKER: If we elect Gary Johnson I think we’re going to see a hundred, two hundred, three hundred smart successful business people step out of the shadows. They’re going to be inspired by the fact that someone like Gary Johnson has become President of the United States and I think they’re going to enter politics. PATRICK SIMON: The answer isn’t more government bureaucracy. It isn’t more oversight. It’s to let local communities, to let people decide for themselves. Through the free market, none of the crony capitalism that we see going on nowadays. HEDGES: As governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson implemented his Libertarian philosophy by vetoing almost 750 bills accelerating the privatization of prisons and schools, cutting taxes and waging a war on labor and labor protection laws. Things that many criticize him for but not as much here. Does the privatization issue of prisons and education bother you at all? DAVIS: No I think everything should be privatized. MILLER: The basic issue for us is choice on how you live your life. I think everyone should have the opportunity to go to a private school, go to a private hospital. RACHEV: Basically I don’t believe that the government is good at doing any of those things. I believe that some of the time the privatization turn out to bad, it’s not because it doesn’t hurt the bad thing. It’s because it was poorly implemented. HEDGES: At the end of the day, Johnson supporters say it’s the free market’s ability to self-regulate that would fix what they call crony capitalism and a bloated bureaucracy. Make capitalism pure, they say, and the economy will balance itself out. SIMON: At least if you get the government out of there then you can have those natural market forces to allow individuals to see a need and to compete against these giant corporations.
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