Why not undercard debates featuring Johnson and Stein?

Last weekend, I caught an interview with Jill Stein – the Green Party’s candidate for President.

While she stands zero chance of winning and I disagree with most of her positions, the interview was interesting.

She was articulate and cut to the chase on the issues in a simple understandable way.

Example: “We should go with renewable energy because pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for more than 200,000 deaths each year.”

That resonated with me.

No reliance on weather predictions from dudes who predicted that Hermine would devastate the East Coast this past weekend.

Just a simple: Stop pollution, it causes deaths every year.

I can buy in to that argument faster than worrying about forecasts of the seas rising in a couple of hundred years.


According to several polls – the MorningConsult being among the latest – a majority of likely voters would like to see Libertarian Gary Johnson and Greenie Jill Stein on the presidential debate stage even though they are below the 15% popularity threshold.

Based on the Stein interview, I’d like to see more of Johnson and Stein. I wouldn’t waste my vote on either of them, but I’d like to here more.



The prime argument against their participation is that it would shorten the time allotted to Clinton and Trump …


Clinton supporters figure that given more rather than less time, Trump is more likely to be revealed as shallow or, better yet, commit a fatal gaffe. He can only fake it for so long, right?

Trumpsters probably figure that the longer Hillary is on stage, the more likely that she’ll have a coughing fit or show embarrassing fatigue.

And, polls suggest an unexpected twist.

There seems to be some evidence that – in a 3-way or 4-way competition — Johnson takes more votes from Hillary than from Trump.

As expected, Stein – to the left of Hillary – also takes votes from Clinton.

So, I expect the Clinton campaign to fight fiercely to keep the debates Clinton-Trump head-to-head.

And, I expect Trump to start pushing for a 4-way fight.

But, those dynamics are just political posturing.

I think that Johnson and Stein would sharpen the debate – raising some alternative points of view, and getting folks thinking


My solution:

Why not have an undercard debate – just like the GOP did with the “field” candidate?

Give Johnson and Stein 90 minutes on TV before the big show to pitch their ideas to a national audience.

My bet: after the 1st undercard debate, Johnson’s numbers would pop a bit and he’d possibly qualify for the 2nd debate.

As Trump would say: “What the hell do we have to lose?”



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2 Responses to “Why not undercard debates featuring Johnson and Stein?”

  1. SJ Says:

    “We should go with renewable energy because pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for more than 200,000 deaths each year.”

    It gives the impression of being a factoid made-up by a DC think-tank with a biased agenda.

    I doubt you can attribute direct causation to “fossil fuels” for any deaths, except perhaps for the few who ingested or got burned by them.

    Also, how many will die if cheap and abundant fuel is made more expensive or difficult to use? Hydrocarbons have made modern life possible and so far renewable energy sources are generally expensive and unreliable.

  2. SJ Says:

    ” Total combustion emissions in the U.S. account for about 200,000 (90% CI: 90,000–362,000) premature deaths per year in the U.S. due to changes in PM2.5 concentrations, and about 10,000 (90% CI: −1000 to 21,000) deaths due to changes in ozone concentrations.”

    1. They give a range, with a fairly low 90% confidence index, which could be further altered changing the assumptions that we don’t know how accurate are as this models try to replicate extremely complex real-world scenarios.

    2. It refers to “premature” deaths which is no synonym of plain death, and far more difficult to predict.

    3. The effect of “total combustion emissions.” Can you eliminate all combustion emissions? Probably not, and even further reducing them in a significant way would be cost-prohibitive.

    4. As I mentioned before, further restricting the use of hydrocarbon-based energy sources will impoverish and likely reduce the life expectancy of many on its own, cancelling out any benefit of extreme measures taken to reduce emissions.

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