Third-Party Candidates Descend on D.C. for Last-Ditch Debate

Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:43pm

Political gadfly Ralph Nader wants to give 2012’s class of third-party presidential candidates one last say before Election Day, gathering the four most viable long shots for a weekend debate at Busboys & Poets (2021 14th St. NW).

Ex-Rep. and Constitution party nominee Virgil Goode (Va.), former New Mexico Gov. turned Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson are all expected to bare their souls to select media from 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. this Sunday, just two days before voters head to the polls.

Nader pitched President Barack Obama and GOP hopeful Mitt Romney about holding a debate here in the nation’s capital but told HOH he never heard back from either camp.

“The District has been exploited as a backdrop for large partisan fundraisers in its major hotels, restaurants and clubs. But the District’s human and political rights have been ignored,” Nader chided the main contenders in a Sept. 18 letter cosigned by a coalition of two dozen civic groups and concerned individuals, including D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and local restaurateur/debate host Andy Shallal.

Nader said he plans to prod the Oval Office aspirants about issues that have been “ignored, avoided or neutered” by the two major parties, including:

  • Electoral reform
  • Alternative taxes (penalties for Wall Street speculators, curbing carbon emissions)
  • Ballot access restrictions imposed upon third-party candidates
  • Corporate patriotism (what do businesses owe the U.S.?)
  • Political/economic inequality
  • Control of common assets (public airwaves, etc.)
  • D.C. statehood
  • Re-evaluating voters (Are they doing their homework? Do we need to move to mandatory/universal voting?)

He also plans to mix things up throughout, floating general questions to all for rapid-fire responses, posing custom-tailored queries to each, allowing the candidates to interview one another as well as fielding inquiries culled from debate watchers and social media.

The crowdsourcing has, for the most part, broken along two lines:

Issues voters

  • Drugs: Many good people have had their lives ruined due to the war on drugs. How has the war on drugs, more specifically the war on cannabis, affected you, your friends, families, loved ones or neighbors?
  • Personal liberty: What does “freedom” mean? And how is it relevant?
  • Leadership: What do you plan to do Nov. 7? In other words, beyond Election Day, what is your vision and strategy for continuing the struggle and beginning to build for 2016? What should we do?
  • Censorship: What would you do to move toward independent or public-funded media instead of the present media, which is more often than not, a microphone for the military industrial complex?; and,

Party poopers

  • Why are they running? And which of them supports the Election Boycott Movement? Electoral politics is dead and the system is broken. Stop voting! Do not consent to tyranny.
  • Do any of you think that you can leach enough votes away from Obama for Romney to win, like Nader won the 2000 election for Bush?
  • Can I borrow 5 bucks?

“This is going to be a rather dramatic contrast to those sponsored by the debate commission,” Nader predicted, adding, “We’re trying to get people thinking creatively for next time.”

“Next time” could prove unbelievably exhausting if Nader has his way, given that the perennial underdog would be delighted to see the powerful put through the wringer for a month straight.

“There should be 20 debates, all over the country,” he said of his ideal debate schedule, adding that the location “shouldn’t be up to the candidates. It should be up to the people who summon them.”

Those looking to have some input into Sunday’s rhetorical smackdown have until midnight to seed Nader’s Twitter and/or Facebook accounts.