Decriminalization of marijuana and the plight of college students, saddled with student loans but few job prospects, occupied much of the debate which was attended by an overwhelmingly youthful crowd. (Chicago's Loop is home to several universities.) College age students and other economically squeezed Americans are "indentured servants," Jill Stein observed twice. Colleges are "immune" to the market pressures that would normally bring costs down remarked Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson thanks to guaranteed federal loans.
All nominees agreed that term limits would solve the universal problem of politicians spending much of their first term seeking funding and courting special interests to be elected for a next term. Would elected officials vote themselves out of office, asked King rhetorically, by supporting term limits? The terms limits would have to be grandfathered in, replied the nominees.
Neither the nominees at the Chicago debate or the audience seemed in denial about the prospects of a third party candidate actually taking office. "Waste your vote on me," said Gary Johnson facetiously, noting that voting for "someone you don't believe in," is the real way to waste your vote.
For his part, Larry King reminisced about other third party candidates he has interviewed from Ross Perot to John Anderson to Ralph Nader. "You are like Don Quixotes in a way," he told the nominees, but this debate is a way to "salute you." END
Martha Rosenberg is a health journalist whose first book, Born With a Junk Food Deficiency was recently published by Prometheus Books.