As many Spartans watched the first two presidential debates, some felt like the most important part of the debates was missing.
While the majority of Americans have already decided to back either Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al Gore, some are giving their support to third-party candidates.
Why are Americans tolerating censorship in political discourse? said Dawn McClain, a leader in the Michigan Green Party campaign. Ralph Nader will get into the debates if they stop being afraid of him.
He has clear alternatives - hes the one person whos done more than the others.
The Green Partys platform stems from environmental and ecological causes they call the Four Pillars: ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence. The partys 2000 federal election platform has focused on several issues including an economic bill of rights, fair elections, ecological conservation and sustainable agriculture.
Many Green Party members believe the most important reason for a larger variety of candidates is that most people dont think the two major parties represent them. In the last election, more than 50 percent of Americas eligible voters didnt go to the polls, and nearly half of those registered are registered neither as Republican nor Democrat.
Some Democratic party members have criticized candidates such as Nader because of the risk of taking away votes from Al Gore, a sentiment that Green Party member Sonya Charles is not concerned with.
I find it very interesting that they have to emphasize that there are differences between Bush and Gore, Charles said. I dont think things would be too different if either were elected.
Overall, I dont think theres that big of a difference.
While Nader is leading among third-party candidates so far, a number of other candidates are campaigning heavily in the hopes of making a dent in the Nov. 7 election. Candidates such as Libertarian Harry Brown and Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan stay around 1 percent in most polls. Nader currently sits at around 5 percent on several polls including the CNN/USA Today poll.
Ralph Nader seems to be making the biggest jump, especially with the younger voters, said Shar Johnson, secretary for the Michigan Reform Party.
The media has played a big part, Johnson said. Without the media, its hard to make a big showing - a product is going to sell better if youve seen it advertised.
Johnson also thinks the debates may need more than just the addition of another candidate.
Take the debates away from the debate commission, Johnson said. Its composed entirely of Democrats and Republicans.