Before Americans cast their votes in November, they will have the opportunity to hear from the candidates for president and vice president. There are three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate scheduled for the fall. In these debates, the Republican and Democratic candidates will spar on a range of issues, including the economy, immigration, and foreign policy.
But the looming shadow of Libertarians Gary Johnson and Bill Weld over the event is disturbing some on the right.
The Johnson/Weld ticket hasn’t picked up much support from prominent Republican leaders, but there is a case to be made that it is in the best interest of Republicans to let Johnson debate. In 1869, philosopher John Stuart Mill rote:
However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.
In this increasingly polarized society, it has become more and more difficult for those on either side of the debate to effectively articulate their beliefs to those with whom they may disagree. Republicans speak of the left as ill-informed and misled, while Democrats see the right as evil and untrustworthy. Because of this, right-leaning voters are not receptive to arguments made by Democrats, while left-leaning voters refuse to even consider the Republican view of the world.
Simply put, nobody listens to each other, because nobody trusts each other.
Gary Johnson and Bill Weld can change this for Republicans. While they don’t embody every conservative tenet, they do advocate conservative solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing issues, including our economy.
By getting Gary Johnson and Bill Weld into the debates, the party’s short-term efforts to elect Donald Trump may not be helped. But Johnson and Weld are able to articulate a message of economic restraint and individual liberty in a way that no Republican can. For the survival of the Republican Party, this ability to reach new voters is crucial. As Johnson is best suited to reach these new voters, Republicans should be hopeful that he makes it into the debates.