John Nichols in The Nation (excerpt):
Imagine if Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein joined Obama and Romney for this year’s debates. Instead of having to listen to a pair of adult men trying to distinguish between Obamacare and Romneycare, we could hear a working physician explain why a “Medicare for All” program would be dramatically more efficient, economical and humane than what either the president or his Republican challenger has proposed.
Imagine if Libertarian Gary Johnson could respond to the predictably empty wrangling about whether America is “broke”—as opposed to suffering from broken budget priorities. Johnson would propose bringing American troops and resources home from policing the world’s trouble spots, a wholly sensible fix that would make the United States safer, richer and a more popular.
Imagine if Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode—who once talked about denying a US House seat to Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, because Ellison clutched a Koran rather than a Bible when he was sworn in—opened up a real discussion about the relationship between church and state. Instead of dancing around the issue, as they both do, Obama and Romney would be forced to get specific about how seriously they take the promise of Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation.” They might even call Goode out, sending a message that America needs to hear. from the leaders of both major parties.
By the standards of most countries, Stein, Johnson and Goode could qualify to join national debates. Johnson and Stein have secured places on enough state ballots to win the electoral votes needed to assume the presidency. Goode is already on twenty-six ballots and could yet use legal challenges (and certified write-in campaigns) to be positioned to get on enough additional ballots to win an Electoral College majority. (Other candidates, including former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, whose mounting an intellectually rich and radical run on the Justice Party line, have struggled to get on enough ballots to get near making the Electoral College cut. Anderson will, however, join Stein in a “Debate Talkback” tonight, which will be moderated by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman.)
There’s not much chance that any of the three will be elected. But at this point, there’s not as much chance as there once was that Romney will be elected. It would be absurd to disqualify Romney on the grounds that he’s falling behind in the polls, just as it is absurd to disqualify candidates who are on the ballot but have not gotten the exposure that might run their numbers up.