I am writing as a Metropolitan State University undergraduate English major to express my disappointment regarding the KSTP candidate debate hosted and co-sponsored by Metro State on Oct. 21. The debate will feature only the Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican candidates on the statewide ballot.
As an institution of higher learning committed to inquiry, diversity, and the open exchange of ideas, I feel the university should welcome third-party candidates. Nine percent of Minnesotans voted third party in the 2016 presidential election. I represent one of the 9 percent as a libertarian student who sees little difference between the DFL and GOP.
Though I support Metro State’s efforts to encourage student participation in our elections, I cannot support the university’s decision to limit the conversation to the two party duopoly as it exists today. A vote for a third party candidate is not a wasted vote. Rather, it represents that a voter is dissatisfied with the status quo. Third parties and their candidates are not mere “fringe” movements. I am probably one of the few undergraduates at Metro State who was of voting age in 1998 when a third-party candidate upset the two-party candidates in the Minnesota general election. That third-party candidate, as you know, was former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.
Perhaps that is precisely what the establishment is afraid of—that voters will discover an alternative to the establishment, big government, big money candidates.
In the interest of democracy and the free exchange of ideas that democracy requires, I encourage you to consider hosting a forum specifically for third-party candidates in the future.
Editor’s note: Hiatt submitted this letter to President Virginia Arthur and Provost Amy Gort. The letter has been lightly edited for clarity and length.