Debating Injustice

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Ed Gillespie

On July 14th, Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie sent out a press release announcing that he has accepted an additional three upcoming debates at JMU, UVA, and George Mason.  As the notice goes on to say, incumbent Mark Warner has only agreed to one debate thus far.

When I saw this email from the Gillespie campaign, the question that first popped into my mind was, will all three of the candidates who will be on the November ballot be allowed to participate?  The answer, unfortunately, is no.  As was the case in Virginia’s gubernatorial race last year, at this point the Libertarian Robert Sarvis will be excluded.

I must confess that I think denying a spot to one of the candidates is a great injustice.  After all, how will voters be able to learn about all of their choices if all are not allowed the same opportunity to participate?

Ron Paul's official congressional photo as found on Wikipedia
Ron Paul’s official congressional photo as found on Wikipedia

I was blissfully unaware of these exclusionary policies until I went to work for Ron Paul in 2007.  On January 6th, two days before the 2008 New Hampshire Republican primary, my boss, Ron Paul, was not permitted to take part in this final debate.  Despite Fox News’ intentional efforts to erase him from the spotlight, he still managed to win one county in New Hampshire.

Photo from Gary Johnson's Facebook page
Photo from Gary Johnson’s Facebook page

In 2012, it was Gary Johnson’s turn to fall under the thumb of exclusion.  Even though he was the former Governor of New Mexico, he was only allowed to participate in two of the Republican debates.  What was equally curious was that Herman Cain, who has never held elective office and dropped out of the race before any vote was cast, was invited to every single one.  How can anyone make the claim that this is fair?  Given he was so routinely ignored, (coupled with some philosophical differences) who could fault Johnson for leaving the GOP and joining the Libertarian Party?

Robert Sarvis at the 2014 LPVA convention
Robert Sarvis at the 2014 LPVA convention

Getting back to my main point, after I heard that Sarvis would be excluded, I contacted a number of the host organizations and venues to voice my disapproval and to discover why they think it is acceptable to only allow certain candidates a voice.  Let me share with you one response:  “In my communications with the campaigns of the two major political party candidates,  the question of whether or not Mr. Sarvis would be invited was a point of discussion.  Both campaigns had stated that if Mr. Sarvis were to be invited to participate in the debate their chances of agreeing to accept the invitation was unlikely and actually committing was even less likely.”  Can you believe it?  Apparently both the Warner and Gillespie campaigns don’t wish to engage with Robert Sarvis.  And should a host allow all of the campaigns an equal place on the stage, apparently the Warner and Gillespie campaigns will boycott, choosing instead to take their ball and go home.  The two words that come to mind to best describe this situation are arrogance and cowardice.

Over a week ago, I contacted both the Warner and Gillespie campaigns seeking an official comment on this issue.  Although both indicated that they would offer a reply, thus far neither has done so.

Let’s set aside our personal opinions about Robert Sarvis for a moment and look at this situation objectively.  What if a debate host decided to exclude either Republican Ed Gillespie or Democratic Mark Warner?  I would assume that a large segment of the population would declare the event a farce and object loudly.  Or what if Gillespie and Sarvis colluded with each other to prevent Warner’s inclusion?  Again, that would be wrong, would it not?  Couldn’t either of these two scenarios easily end up swaying the election in the favor of one of the two candidates who were allowed air time?

Friends, as I pointed out in an earlier piece, Virginia election laws make third party and independent candidates jump through extra hoops.  To make matters worse, they then end up excluding these non two party candidates from airing their political opinions in public forums.  Doesn’t this make you angry?  If not, what would you say if the shoe were on the other foot, if they decided to do the same to your candidate of choice?  What if in 2012 they said no to Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?  The ends do not justify the means!

Where is the justice in these exclusionary debates?  I hope that the Warner and Gillespie campaigns will do the right and honorable thing.

Paul Wins Poll!

If you will recall, on September 9th, I conducted a straw poll on Facebook to gauge the support of the Republican candidates for President.  Voters had a selection of the nine most popular choices as well as an option to pick “someone else/none of the above”.  All in all, 146 people voted.

Well, now that three weeks have passed, I figure that I should announce the results.  Given that you’ve already read the headline, it should come as no shock that Representative Ron Paul won.  Here is the specific breakdown by vote total:

Ron Paul – 52 votes

Rick Perry – 34 Votes

Gary Johnson – 21 Votes

Herman Cain – 10 Votes

Michelle Bachmann – 8 Votes

Someone Else/None of the Above – 8 Votes

Mitt Romney – 6 Votes

Jon Huntsman – 3 Votes

Rick Santorum – 3 Votes

Newt Gingrich – 1 Vote

Given Ron Paul’s popularity around the internet, he routinely does well in online polling.  I was not at all surprised by his victory.  However, I should mention that in the early hours and days of the poll, Gary Johnson held the lead.  I guess that as more and more Paul supporters discovered the poll, Paul quickly came to dominate the field.

One other interesting point is Mitt Romney’s low numbers.  Given his supposed media status as currently one of the top two contenders, I would have expected him to do better.

Here are a few other statistics of note:

Of the 146 voters, I am Facebook friends with only 28 of them.  I’m glad to see that the poll included more than my own personal political circle.  Then again, far more than half of my Facebook friends are politically active.  It is a bit disappointing to find that so few of them voted.

Speaking of people that I know, if we only include my Facebook friends in the totals, we end up with a different set of results.  In that scenario, Gary Johnson takes the top billing with 8 votes, followed by Rick Perry with 7, and Ron Paul settles to third with 5.  But what reasoning explains this change?  Well, looking through the specific votes, this shift likely comes from my associations with libertarians who hold the former Governor of New Mexico in very high regard.  Although many libertarians do prefer Paul, rhetoric around Facebook indicates that a majority of “hard core” libertarians place themselves in the Johnson camp.

Although not concerning the race for President, I should mention that Bearing Drift just put up a new poll for Virginia’s U.S. Senate race.  Stop by their website and cast your vote!  I already did.

Well, thanks to everyone who took a few seconds out of his or her day to vote on my poll.  Keep your eyes open, for there will be more of them coming in the future.

Maybe If We Don’t Mention Him…

One simple fact that I’ve learned from the Republican Presidential primaries of both 2008 and 2012 is that Ron Paul will win any online poll.  Now, there are a number of reasons why he does so well in an online format that I won’t get into in this piece.  The point I want to make is that just about every time he emerges victorious, the major media outlets will explain away the results or simply and quietly take down their poll.

Today, the website Libertarian News shows another favored tactic.  Over at U.S. News and World Report, they offer readers a choice of Republican candidates including recent dropout Tim Pawlenty and a handful of undeclared candidates like Sarah Palin.  The field isn’t too surprising as the poll was created way back at the end of February.  However, when scanning the list of ten candidates, one cannot find Ron Paul’s name anywhere.  So has U.S. News found a solution to the presumed Ron Paul victory?  Were they thinking, “maybe if we don’t mention him then some other candidate will win”?  Well, take a look at the results as of 9:15 PM EDT tonight and see for yourself.

Seems like a lot of people (67.8%), prefer someone else than the candidates that they have listed.  Now, to be fair, Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry are excluded as well. However, I have to believe that the vast bulk of the “other” vote has to be for Dr. No, Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Here is a note to U.S. News and World Reports:  You can try excluding Ron Paul, but the results will end up the same.  All that you’ve succeeded in doing is alienating his supporters.  Therefore your poll is and ought to be considered a joke.

Lastly, here is the kicker.  It may surprise you to know that freedom is popular with the online crowd.  Of course, so is Ron Paul.

Thanks to Jim for sharing this information!