When Gary Johnson was a GOP primary candidate, he watched in frustration as CNN invited an obviously unqualified Herman Cain onto the debate stage, even as it refused appeals from the former two-term New Mexicogovernor to take part or even to be included in the polls used to determine eligibility.
Now that Governor Johnson is the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, he has a similar problem but a different foe. The Commission on Presidential Debates doesn't want to extend him an invitation. In an open letter to the organization, he's trying to persuade them to change their minds. The third of voters who are loyal to neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party desserve to have at least some representation during the televised presidential debates, he argues.
I understand that there are a great many "third party" candidates, and that a line must be drawn somewhere. However, the simple reality of our Electoral College system draws that line in a very straightforward and fair way - a reality that is reflected in your existing criteria. If a candidate is not on the ballot in a sufficient number of states to be elected by the Electoral College, it is perfectly logical to not include that candidate in a national debate. If, on other hand, a candidate IS on the ballot in enough states to be elected, there is no logic by which that candidate should be excluded. Nowhere in the Constitution or in law is it written that our President must be a Democrat or a Republican. However, it IS written that a candidate must receive a majority of the votes - or at least 50% - cast by electors, and that any candidate who does so, and otherwise meets the Constitution's requirements, may be President.
It's not likely to happen this year.
But if the LP can get at least 5% of the vote this election the chances go up greatly the next election cycle.