Tonight Carlo and Dio talk about the upcoming presidential election.
C: Why can’t Gary Johnson get into the debates?
D: His poll numbers aren’t high enough.
C: Wait. How high do they have to be for him to be in the debates?
D: People say fifteen percent.
C: How high are they?
D: We don’t know.
C: How do we know it’s below fifteen percent then?
D: We just do.
C: This election is important, Dio. You can’t exclude someone on the basis of, “We just do.”
D: Here’s how it works. We leave Johnson out of most polls. Pollsters don’t want to mess up their numbers with third-party candidates. Plus they don’t want respondents to be saying, “Who’s Johnson?” all the time. They just want to make their 1,200 calls and get the thing over with.
C: We must have some idea where Johnson stands if he’s excluded from the debates.
D: Look, the Republicans excluded him from their primary debates, for heaven sakes. They had eight candidates standing up there debate after debate, and they didn’t want Johnson. They just didn’t like him: one libertarian was enough.
C: I’m going to ask you one more time, Dio: how do we know Johnson doesn’t meet the fifteen percent test?
D: You’re not going to like the answer.
C: Try me.
D: He just doesn’t.
C: That does it. I’m going to Google Gary Johnson presidential poll results and find out for myself.
D: You know what you’ll find?
C: No, what?
D: Not much. Some stuff published by Reason. Some polls taken last summer.
C: Alright, I’ll try Gary Johnson presidential polls. There has to be something.
D: Yeah, Rasmussen included Johnson recently. That made news.
C: You mean it’s noteworthy when a poll includes him, and routine when they don’t?
D: How often do you see results for a three-way race?
C: But if the pollsters don’t include him, people won’t even know he’s running.
D: You got it.
C: If people don’t know he’s running, how can he poll fifteen percent?
D: You got it.
C: No wonder you said, “We just do.”
D: “We just do” what?
C: We just know he doesn’t make the threshold. If he’s almost never in the polls, he’s certainly not going to make fifteen percent when they occasionally throw him in. They must throw him in just to see what impact he has on Obama’s and Romney’s numbers.
D: That’s exactly right. They found he polled six percent – he took three percent from the Republican and three percent from the Democrat.
C: So why don’t people make the pollsters do their job right?
D: Johnson’s backers certainly try.
C: What happens?
D: You know how it is: cranks get shafted.
C: I don’t even want to watch the debates if I have to listen to Obama and Romney talk to the press for ninety minutes!
D: At least they pretend it’s a debate.
C: Wouldn’t it be more interesting if you had a libertarian to mix things up a little?
D: Sure it would, but the show’s going to get a big audience no matter what. Neither party wants to let an alternate voice crash their doh-see-doh.
C: They let Perot in back in ’92.
D: And look what happened. He polled almost twenty percent, and Clinton got in with forty-three percent. The sitting president received only thirty-seven percent! The two parties aren’t going to humiliate themselves like that again.
C: You mean Perot’s showing makes it less likely the parties will let a third party candidate in again?
D: Sure. Why would they want to put up numbers like forty-three and thirty-seven percent again? They want to run the show.
C: Don’t they know how much people dislike them?
D: Not everyone dislikes them, but they know they’re not popular. That’s why they make sure outsiders can’t get in. If they allow third party candidates on the ballot, or let candidates who make the ballot participate in the election, what do you think happens? People start to think the two parties aren’t so mighty after all. Next thing you know, they lose control of the electoral process.
C: That wouldn’t be good. No more gerrymandering?
D: No more gerrymandering, no more exclusion of candidates from the ballot, in the end no more privileged position with donors. Imagine that!
C: I can’t, frankly. That doesn’t seem possible.
D: All it takes is one successful candidate: like Perot but more successful than that.
C: But candidates like that can’t win votes if the parties lock them out!
D: The circle’s vicious, isn’t it?
C: So what do we do?
D: Put Jesse Ventura on the case.
D: Put Jesse Ventura up against the two parties. He’s a Navy Seal. He can make it happen!
C: Dio, Jesse Ventura was a professional wrestler.
D: That makes him an entertainer. Ronald Reagan was an entertainer – look what he did.
C: If Jesse Ventura wanted to stay in politics, why didn’t he run for reelection when he was governor?
D: No one knows. I wanted him to run for president way back then.
C: Why didn’t he?
D: No one knows. He talks a lot, but you can’t know him very well. Reagan was like that.
C: Do you think Jesse can save the country?
D: People do look for white knights, don’t they?
C: We have to find our hope somewhere.
D: Some knights are whiter than others.
C: How do you mean?
D: Some leaders have courage and charisma. They create hope and confidence that’s well placed.
C: Do you think we’ll find leaders like that? Even one? People say we need new leadership.
D: I wish people would act on what they say. If citizens want new leadership, they have to overturn the parties’ iron grip.
C: I wish Johnson would do it.
D: Johnson doesn’t have a united party behind him. He was governor of New Mexico, but that’s about all he has going for him now. Obama’s the incumbent. Unless he makes a big mistake, we’ll see him reelected.
C: I don’t even want to hear it.
D: That’s alright. We can get through anything.
C: I’m glad you’re optimistic!
D: Why shouldn’t I be? We’re not all in this alone.
For more writing on this subject, see Revolution on the Ground, Revolution in the Air, and Conversations with Dio.