My Open Letter to Southwest Airlines Regarding Gary Johnson’s Inclusion in the Presidential Debates

Stuart K. Hayashi

As Southwest Airlines is one of the sponsors of the U.S. presidential debates, this is an e-mail I wrote to Southwest Airlines’s advertising section with respect to Gary Johnson’s inclusion in the proceedings. (I couldn’t fit all this in that form that the company wanted me to fill out online.) If you can, I urge that you use snail mail on the debate sponsors. E-mails are easily filtered or deleted, whereas it would have a more dramatic effect if a huge mountain of envelopes is dumped on their desks.  The contact information for the debate sponsors is over here. To paraphrase the YouTube vlogger LeoPirate, “Let’s affect the debate sponsors where it matters most: in their wallets!” (But be courteous to them in the written messages, of course.) ^_^

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Dear Southwest Airlines,

Aloha from Hawaii! I am writing to you with respect to your company’s sponsorship of the upcoming Presidential debates. I recall from business school that when Southwest Airlines began, it was an upstart challenging an entrenched oligopoly of three airlines that dominated southwestern routes — an oligopoly that used its position to attempt to squeeze Southwest out of the market in attempt to quash any chance on Southwest’s part to compete. To the relief of us all, Southwest prevailed. Today, with respect to the presidential debates, there is a similar situation. And this time, Southwest has an opportunity to vouch for the contender that is at risk of being unduly excluded.

Although Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have earned their places as their party nominees, the public is understandably distressed by the prospect that these will be the only two presidential candidates featured in the debates. These are the two most polarizing candidates in decades. Given the strong public disappointment in those options, the American electorate is agitating to hear new and different voices, such as that of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

For that reason, if debate sponsors such as Southwest urge that the Commission on Presidential Debates includes Mr. Johnson in the debates, it will have enormous positive effects. More voters would be given a voice and a choice, thus helping the debates live up to their purpose of serving the constitutional republic. It would be historic, as this would be the first inclusion of a third-party candidate in almost a quarter century. The television ratings would be higher than they otherwise would be. And, in the eyes of the consuming public, this would reflect very well on sponsors such as Southwest: such sponsors would be helping the debates live up to the principles of the American republic’s founding. By contrast, if Mr. Johnson is shut out of the debate, and only these two polarizing, deeply divisive figures are left on stage, the disappointment would be so great among voters that the ratings will be lower than they otherwise would be, and we will continue to hear ever louder discontented complaints that we live not in a republic or a democracy but under an oligarchy — not unlike the oligopoly that tried unsuccessfully to squeeze Southwest out of the market.

There is much evidence to support the idea that inclusion of Mr. Johnson in the debates would spell higher ratings, more public goodwill for the sponsors, and benefits to the republic in general. Suffolk University conducted a poll for USA Today asking, “If a third-party presidential candidate is certified by a majority of state ballots, should he or she be included in the debates this fall?” 76 percent answered yes to this question. And Gary Johnson qualifies in that category — after much hard work on the part of volunteers, Mr. Johnson has secured a place on the ballot in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. — rendering him one of the only three candidates who can receive votes from every state.

When Gary Johnson is mentioned by name, respondents say he should be included in the debates. Morning Consult found that 52 percent of voters favor his inclusion. Those findings are corroborated by Quinnipiac University’s survey. Quinnipiac found that 62 percent of likely voters favor his inclusion. And among likely voters aged 18 to 34 — a much-sought-after consumer demographic — 82 percent want Mr. Johnson’s inclusion.

Inclusion of Mr. Johnson in the debates has been urged by former governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney, and Mitch Daniels — the last of whom is presently a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

For the sake of this republic, higher ratings, and reminding the American public — and the world at large — how much the debates’ sponsors care about giving everyone a voice and a choice, it would be most beneficent to urge the CPD to include Gary Johnson in the first, second, and third presidential debates, and to include Mr. Johnson’s running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, in the the vice presidential debate.

Thank you very much for your time, and for the service you provide to us Americans.

Mahalo,
Stuart Hayashi
Mililani Town, Hawaii

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