This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson finally got to appear in a nationally-televised presidential debate, but relatively few people actually watched it.
More importantly, few people watched an actual discussion on the war-on-drugs failures in the United States and on the National Defense Authorization Act, which Anderson, to loud applause, called "tyranny."
While those issues took center stage in the Anderson debate, they weren't discussed in the debates between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, which were watched by tens of millions of viewers.
That brings up the issue of how much control the two major parties, in collaboration with the mainstream media, have over the political process in this country and how difficult it is for a candidate not carrying the Democrat or Republican label to even be heard, no matter how good his or her ideas might be.
Anderson, who is on the ballot in several states as the Justice Party candidate, participated in the 3rd Party Presidential Debate Tuesday in Chicago. It was moderated by veteran radio and television talk show host Larry King of Ora-TV, which aired the debate.
It also ran on C-SPAN, but mainstream television networks and cable outlets ignored it.
Anderson appeared on the stage with Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party.
It was sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation (Feef).
While C-SPAN was the only major U.S. television network covering the event, it was aired by foreign television networks, including Russia Today TV and Al Jazeera.
It also got a mention Wednesday night by MSNBC commentator Lawrence O'Donnell, who used the occasion to berate the political monopolization of the two major parties in concert with the mainstream media.
While Utahns are elated with the candidacy of Romney, claimed as a favorite son for his role as leader of the 2002 Olympics effort in Salt Lake City, Anderson could claim favorite-son status at least among the residents living between 12th Avenue and 2100 South in Salt Lake City.
Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, has his presidential campaign office in Salt Lake City, since a major consultant on his campaign is R.T Nielsen.
Another minority party presidential candidate with Utah ties is actress and Salt Lake City native Roseanne Barr, although she didn't appear at Tuesday's debate.
Then, of course, there is Jon Huntsman Jr., whose political future is uncertain after his presidential candidacy got little traction in the GOP this year. Huntsman has criticized the current culture in his party and I have wondered myself if there could be a third-party run in his sights at some point.
But back to O'Donnell's point, which I agree with, that the two-party grip on the national discussion and the media's collaboration with that has stunted dialogue on ideas not approved by the official Republican or Democrat labels.
Because so few saw the 3rd Party presidential debate, the majority of the country will not hear arguments about the war on drugs and whether drugs should be legalized and regulated, like alcohol, to diminish the power of organized crime.
Anderson, Johnson and Stein favored legalization, as has Barr. Goode opposed it.
The majority of the country also missed out on the lively discussion on the National Defense Authorization Act, the controversial George W. Bush-era policy reauthorized by Obama that allows the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including citizens, arrested in the United States without charge.
The minority party candidates were all against that provision and spoke at length about the ebbing of civil rights in the United States.
During the Obama-Romney debates, seen by so many, that wasn't brought up.