Third Parties Get Big Victory In Getting Sponsorships Pulled From Presidential Debates
Not be included in candidate debates is a perennial gripe from third-party candidates, and they have a point. While those who sponsor debates say that the third-party candidates don’t meet some metric of popular support for inclusion in the events, it’s hard to imagine how third-party candidates can ever meet that threshold when they are consistently excluded from media coverage and events like debates.
But in this cycle the third-party candidates, particularly Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, are having some success in getting traction with their complaints. They’re hitting where it hurts, getting big sponsors to pull out of backing the debates. The latest, and biggest by far, is electronics giant Philips:
Philips is the third and by far the largest of the original ten sponsors to pull its support, following similar decisions by British advertising firm BBH New York and the YWCA over the last week. Their decision to do so is seen as the result of intense lobbying efforts by advocacy organizations — primarily Libertarian supporters of former Gov. Gary Johnson — who oppose the exclusion of third-party candidates and who therefore believe the Commission on Presidential Debates is an anti-Democratic institution.
Mark A. Stephenson, the head of corporate communications at Philips North America, told POLITICO that the company doesn’t want to provide “even the slightest appearance of supporting partisan politics.”
Philips “has a long and proud heritage of being non-partisan in the many countries it serves around the world. While the Commission on Presidential Debates is a non-partisan organization, their work may appear to support bi-partisan politics,” Stephenson said in a written statement. “We respect all points of view and, as a result, want to ensure that Philips doesn’t provide even the slightest appearance of supporting partisan politics. As such, no company funds have been or will be used to support the Commission on Presidential Debates.”
When we talk about third parties there is always a lot of poo-pooing from the two “mainstream” parties. The third party people are just cranks and weirdos, they say. And in most instances that’s probably true, but it’s not always true. I would say it’s not true of candidate Johnson, who served two very successful terms as the Republican governor of New Mexico. Agree or disagree with Johnson’s positions on the issues, what’s so bad about giving him some face time with the American electorate?
Are we really that afraid of ideas that don’t fit the Democrat/Republican paradigm?
We’re at a sad place, as a society, when we’re threatened by ideas.Tags: debates, gary johnson, third parties