By the numbers, Michael Munger has a lot of nerve asking for a microphone at gubernatorial debates.
Numbers of registered voters in North Carolina, that is.Democrats: 2.6 million.
Republicans: 1.9 million.
But Munger, the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor, deserves a place with Democrat Beverly Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory anyway.
The Libertarian Party's roll of voters, all four of them, is comically low because North Carolina didn't recognize it until a few weeks ago. The party qualified by submitting petitions signed by more than 100,000 citizens and now is entitled to place candidates on the ballot in November. Before then, people who held Libertarian ideas couldn't register as Libertarians. Some were among the 1.2 million North Carolinians registered as unaffiliated.
As the candidate of the third recognized party, Munger ought to be invited to all gubernatorial debates. The decision is up to sponsors, but surely a third person on stage won't detract from a full and lively discussion of issues. More likely, Munger would add some interesting ideas.
He's no slouch when it comes to ideas. He holds a doctorate in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and chairs the Political Science Department at Duke. He's also taught at Dartmouth College, the University of Texas and UNC-Chapel Hill and was an economist for the Federal Trade Commission in the 1980s.
But Munger also knows he could set back his party if he makes a poor impression on voters.
"If I'm invited to the debates, and I do a bad job, voters are going to say 'I'm not interested,' " he told the News & Record's Mark Binker.
The point is that voters should have a chance to listen and decide. Sponsoring organizations should make room for Munger on stage because the state is better served when more points of view are considered. If Libertarians make sense, their numbers will grow.
You have to wonder, however, whether newspaper editors in the Tarheel State have always been so fair-minded, or whether it's just possible that raising a ruckus on behalf of your candidates instead of engaging in constant back-biting ("you're not Libertarian enough for me") might actually help make a difference.
Meanwhile, Michael, maybe we'll get you into one of those debates yet....