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Ross Perot was a very significant third party candidate, which makes his appearance on the debates much more understandable.

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.

It takes 15% of the vote in the polling to be eligible to debate as a third party candidate, but it's hard to get to 15% if you're not allowed to debate. A catch-22. These rules are decided by a commission that includes democrats and republicans, but not independents.

Gary Johnson has campaigned vigorously to try to get this rule changed through the courts, but apparently without much success.

They’d allow a third party candidate now if they did as well. To qualify, a third party candidate need to poll at 15% or above and be on enough state ballots to have at least a possibility of winning. Nobody has even come close to that since Perot.

Gary Johnson reached 12% in August 2016. Clinton started running ads against Johnson around this time as well, to prevent him from getting to the 15% mark. Then the Aleppo gaffe happened in September, which effectively killed his remaining chances.

My dad voted for Perot, as did I in my school's mock election at the time. He regretted it in the end, attributing his own vote to doing nothing more than causing Bush to lose, but there's never shame in voting for who you think is the best candidate for the job.

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.

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