Thanks to the record unpopularity of major party presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, many American voters are weighing third party options. Comedian John Oliver thought it might be wise to take a closer look at those candidates.
A popular critique of the political process — as well as the media coverage of presidential elections — is that they shortchange third party candidates, such as Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Johnson has said if the media gave him as much coverage as Clinton and Trump or let him on the presidential debate stage, he would soon be polling even with the major party candidates.
While Oliver says they're legitimate candidates, he doubts if Johnson or Stein would actually hold up to the added scrutiny.
"More than a third of young voters say they are considering voting for Johnson or Stein," Oliver said. "So, they are worth taking seriously."
Oliver first took a look at Stein, who is currently polling at two percent. While he acknowledges the broad appeal of her stances on environmental policy and gay marriage, Oliver argued that her flagship proposal to cancel student loan debt has a few holes. Stein has said she would use monetary policy to erase the student loan debt, claiming that is how the government bailed out the banks in 2008. But Oliver pointed out that only the Federal Reserve, not the president, controls monetary policy and that is not how the banks were bailed out anyway. Oliver also mocked Stein for pandering to vaccine and 9/11 conspiracy theorists with strategically vague answers to questions on those issues.
The comedian then took aim at Johnson. Oliver again admitted that Johnson has some appealing ideas — he is in favor of marijuana legalization and police reform — but poked fun at his frequent gaffes and broad strokes policy proposals. Oliver played a clip of Johnson on MSNBC saying he would abolish the Department of Education and Department of Commerce without being able to name any of the services those government departments perform. He also criticized Johnson's simplistic tax plan.
"The more you look at both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, the more you realize the lack of coverage they complain about so much might have genuinely benefited them, because their key proposals begin to crumble under the slightest scrutiny." Oliver said. "There is no perfect candidate in the race, and when people say you don't have to choose the lesser of two evils, they are right, because you have to choose the lesser of four."