Sure the candidates are tougher to manage in 2019 (especially after Trump changed the game in '16), but the debate moderation we've seen so far is truly pathetic, and I blame the moderators for robbing voters of the more meaningful discourse that might be possible if moderators did their jobs by actually enforcing time limits & forbidding interruptions (by cutting mics).
Ross got 19% of the popular vote in '92, which was just shy of half of what Clinton and Bush got. Pretty remarkable showing honestly. Most 3rd party candidates never get more than a few percent.
Gary Johnson has campaigned vigorously to try to get this rule changed through the courts, but apparently without much success.
In a nation of 300+ million people, having two realistic choices isn't remotely enough to cover everyone's viewpoint. Two parties is much easier for people with money to bribe. It's a good setup for average folks to lose in class warfare (and those of us who work, have indeed lost). Even the convenience store has more than just Pepsi and Coke.
The media conglomerates are not interested in substantive policy discussions.
I was only eight years old at the time, but I remember watching that debate specifically because it was a big deal that he was on the stage. To eight-year-old me, that was history in the making.
Thinking back, I was a pretty weird kid. I also vividly remember pretending I was asleep until my grandparents went to bed, then sneaking back to the living room and turning on the TV to watch the news during the Operation Desert Storm (Jan 1991) and the Ruby Ridge standoff (March 1993). I was seven and nine years old for those events, respectively. We didn't even have cable, so I was flipping between infomercials on the three channels we got over the air and trying to catch reruns of the news.