The candidates found plenty of common ground. All four opposed rules that winnow contenders for public office, saying they are bad for democracy and unnecessarily limit voter choices. All supported reductions in American military spending. All said they would have vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act.
All but Mr. Goode said they would legalize marijuana and end the “war on drugs.” Goode said he would keep marijuana illegal but would cut spending on drug enforcement as part of his plan to deeply reduce federal spending in his first year in office.
But the candidates did open up some policy proposals sharply different from one another and from the two major-party presidential candidates.
Dr. Stein and Mr. Anderson called for free higher education for all Americans, with Stein pointing out the benefits from the original, post-World War II G.I. bill and Anderson arguing that other industrialized nations have already achieved such a system.
Johnson and Goode ridiculed the sentiment as ignoring the reality of America’s beleaguered fiscal condition.
“ ‘Free’ comes with a cost,” Johnson said. “ ‘Free’ is accumulating more to the $16 trillion in debt than we already have. ‘Free’ has gotten us to the point where we are going to have a monetary collapse.”
When asked to offer one constitutional amendment they would most like to see passed, the candidates again diverged. Anderson argued for a “new Equal Rights Amendment” enshrining protection from discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.
Johnson and Goode said they would push for term limits for Congress – something they say would keep members focused on achievement instead of political longevity.