To Get a Third Party on the Debate Stage: Eric Charles at TEDxPSU

>>Eric Charles: More than half of all the people in this country think that the government does not do a good job representing the ideas and opinions of the American people, and they think that the government would do a better job if there was a stronger third voice or maybe even fourth or fifth voice in American politics. More than fifty percent of the people want to hear a strong third voice. But we had an election last year. Gary Johnson on the Libertarian ticket had one percent; Jill Stein, the only woman at the top of a real party’s ticket, less than half a percent for the Green party. And this is the third party dilemma in this country. People want a third party, they want a third voice. They just don’t want to have to vote for them to do it. And I thought maybe there’s a way to solve this problem. Maybe there’s a way that we could get a voice out there without people voting. So I thought when do you hear people. When do you see people? Because it really makes sense that people aren’t willing to vote for a third party because they don’t have any idea of who they are. Why would you vote for somebody you haven’t seen, somebody you haven’t gotten to know? How do we get to know these people, how do we get to see them? A huge part of the answer to that question is the presidential debates. How many of you became familiar with the presidential candidate you voted for during the debates at some point? OK. So maybe I thought we could get a third party onto the presidential debate stage. Maybe there’s a different way to do that. I did some research. Got online. Looked up the Commission on, for the presidential debates, and immediately became even more depressed. It turns out the Commission is run as a joint venture between the Republican and Democratic Parties, and they don’t want to see a third party candidate on there, and they get to set up the rules, and they set up a single rule. To get on the presidential debate stage, you have to poll at 15 percent in the national polls. So what they’ve told the third parties is if you want your voice heard, if you want to be seen, then you already have to have your voice by 15 percent of the people, and they have to have liked it enough to already want to vote for you, otherwise, nobody can see it, but they already can’t see it because you don’t have 15 percent. So I was depressed. It seemed like we were stuck in the same problem. And then at some point I realized this isn’t actually the same problem at all. The third parties are trying so hard to get people to vote for them, and we already know nobody’s willing to vote for them, but to get on the stage, what you actually need is 15 percent of the people willing to tell a pollster that they’re going to vote for you. People can vote for whoever they want. They can vote Republican or Democrat, but if they want to hear a third voice, they can support it just by answering a pollster’s question differently. And it occurred to me that I can’t believe 15 percent of the people wouldn’t be willing to do this. Because what you need to do is actually start to understand the question you’re being asked differently. The answer to the question depends on how that information is going to be used, and when the polls call and ask who you’re going to vote for, the only consequence that that behavior has, the only thing that changes about the world is determining who gets up there on the stage. So when they ask you who you’re going to vote for, what they’re really asking is who do you want to see, and we already know that the show is run by the Republicans and the Democrats. They’re going to be on the stage no matter what. What we’ve actually done is flipped the main fear that people have for voting for a third party in an election. How many people have heard somebody say I wouldn’t vote for them. It would just throw away my vote. Well, now that situation is reversed. The Republicans and the Democrats are going to be on the debate stage no matter what. If you don’t give them the name of a third party in the poll, you’re throwing away your vote. And I thought about this a little more, and I thought there are even better reasons to lie to pollsters. So don’t get me wrong. Lots of times polls do useful things during the normal part of the year. People want to know how to vote for a bill. They want to find out, they ask people that’s fine, you should give the correct answer then. But in the buildup to an election what’s happening is that you’re getting called on the phone and being asked to give away your valuable personal information. Remember the uproar when Facebook starting messing with their privacy settings. Your personal information is valuable. The polls collect that, bundle it, and sell it for massive profits so that politicians can lie to you better. The whole reason that you get sort of Etch-O-Sketch politics, that was the quote out of Romney’s campaign that between the primaries and the main election, you just shake it up and start over with the new message. Politicians can do that because they have faith that the polls are accurate. If the polls tell them the right lie, then all they have to do is always give the right lie. So what you should really start thinking about is making the polls work for you. If you want to find out a politician’s stance on a position, make the polls inaccurate, and you’ll find out what their stance is because they’ll have to pick something. So to draw it all back, what I’m asking you to do overall is to think about the consequences that your answers have and understand questions based on that, and one easy thing you can do that is definitely achievable in 2016 is to help put a third party on the presidential debate stage. Thank you.

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  1. This isn't a solution to the problem – you're asking people who are willing to vote for a third party to say they are willing to vote for someone in a third party in order TO hear their voice. But they haven't heard their voice to begin with. So why would they.

    Take this as an example: a pollster calls me (your average voter) and asks me who I'm wiling to vote for. Best case scenario, they give me names and party affiliations. Now, I know Democrat and Republican are "liberal" and "conservative," respectively. But I DON'T know Jill Stein's Green Party or Gary Johnson's Libertarian Party platforms. For all I know, they're racists. Or fascists. Or sycophants. Or corrupt. I don't want to throw a name in their just randomly and HOPE their platform is good enough on stage.

    You run into the same problem – to say you're willing to vote for someone just to see them on stage to hear their platform, you probably should already know your platform.

  2. A third party system is the only way to save America! We need a labor party like England. We must do it ourselves, the new generation must ignore the crap and move forward.
    Our system of government is Vulnerable to MONEY. Put outlawing lobbying on the platform and watch the opinion of the people. Not the ones who you voted for but the people. Our system has failed. When did it become important to save billionaires money, how does that help the middle class? How does that change anything?

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