third party candidates

Scott Benowitz writes about all third party candidates in U.S. Presidential elections. For those undecided, there are still viable alternatives to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Scott Benowitz writes about all third party candidates in U.S. Presidential elections. For those undecided, there are still viable alternatives to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

For reference, once again, I’ve read through the text of the Constitution Of The United States Of America- beginning with the Preamble (1787) and the subsequent Bill of Rights (written in 1787, entered into effect beginning Dec. 1791), right on up through our 27th Amendment (written in 1789, ratified in 1992.)  I’ve read through the text, I’ve re-read it, and then I re-read it again.  And I just can’t find the phrase “two party system” in there.  Why is it that I can’t seem to remember where this phrase is located within our Constitution?

Ah yes, that’s probably because it isn’t in there.  It’s never been included anywhere within any parts of our Constitution, and the concept of a two party system in which two large parties work together to find ways to force the candidates from all other parties out of participating in the electoral debates was NEVER intended to become part of our country’s electoral system.

The Commission On Presidential Debates does have the option to invite the third party candidates to participate in the debates which are shown on news channels all over the world. Presently, the Commission On Presidential Debates is comprised entirely of representatives from the Democrats and from the Republican Parties, and it has been since 1996.

Permitting the third party candidates to participate in the nationally televised debates would actually be impressively simple, because only one committee is involved in organizing the debates.  Inviting the third parties to participate would in fact be equally advantageous to the Democrats as well as to the Republicans because opting to invite them would show that both of the two major parties are in fact actually committed to preserving the principles of democracy within our republic.

The last time that they invited any of the third party candidates to participate in the Presidential Debates was in 1992, when the Reform Party Candidate Ross Perot participated in the debates along with Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr.

The debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence is presently schedule for the evening of Tues. Oct. 4th, it will be held in one of the auditoriums on the campus of Longwood University, which is in Farmville, Virginia.  The second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is scheduled for the evening of Sun. Oct. 9th, the second debate will be held in one of the auditoriums on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  The third debate is presently scheduled for the evening of Wed. Oct. 19th, it will be held in one of the auditoriums on the campus of the University Of Nevada At Las Vegas, which is located in Paradise, Nevada.

The panelists are all well known jounalists: Elaine Quijano (from CBS News and formerly CNN) for the Vice Presidential debate, Martha Raddatz (from ABC News) and Anderson Cooper (from CNN) for the second Presidential debate, and Chris Wallace (FOX News and formerly from CBS News) for the third Presidential debate.

I can’t tell you what question they will likely ask or how the candidates will likely answer the questions.  I can’t tell you what comments the news journalists, bloggers, pundits, commentators and political analysts from all over the world will be making after the debates, or how the televised footage of the debates will be interpreted or misinterpreted throughout the U.S. or overseas.  However, I can tell you which candidates will be collectively answering a total of zero (0) questions, because they will be excluded entirely from participating in the debates once again this year.  Here’s a brief overview of who we won’t be seeing participating in the debates this year:

America’s Party:  America’s Party is a relatively new party, this party was founded in 2008 by Alan Keyes.  On America’s Party’s website, they seem to infuse a lot of religious ideologies with their agenda, so they do likely anticipate that if they do get run candidates for local offices in future years, and those candidates do win they probably anticipate being challenged based on First Amendment issues.  America’s Party is a conservative party, they advocate for the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would overturn last year’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision which required that the Federal government grant full recognition and rights for LGBT marriages.  America’s Party also seeks to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, they want to outlaw abortion.  They also seek to overturn the Sixteenth Amendment (1913) entirely, and according to their website, they seek to remove some of the legislative powers of the Federal government and place it in the hands of the state governments.  Tom Hoefling is this party’s Presidential candidate this year.  As of the time that I’m writing this article, Tom Hoefling presently had no running mate, although it is entirely possible that America’s Party will select a Vice Presidential candidate between now and the elections in November.

The American Party Of South Carolina:  As the name implies, this party is active only in one state.  This party was founded in 2014 by politicians in South Carolina who had become disenchanted with the Democrats and the Republicans, and who had felt that the structure of the two party system was hindering progress on quite a few issues.  Both in the U.S. as well as in countries throughout the world, political parties sometimes claim to hold “centrist views” on a number of issues; parties often use this phrase because it is vague, it can be interpreted to mean a number of different things to different people, and so using the term “centrist” can be a strategy to attract undecided voters.  Parties also sometimes use this phrase when they’ve not yet selected their candidates, so they don’t yet know precisely how their candidates will state their views.  However in the case of The American Party Of South Carolina, the description of their current platform which appears on their website actually really does seem to demonstrate a very thorough understanding of centrist positions on a number of current issues.  Peter Skewes, a law professor at Clemson University is this party’s current Presidential candidates.  As of the time that I’m writing this article, this is another party which does not yet have a Vice Presidential candidate.

The American Solidarity Party:  The American Solidarity Party is another one of the parties whose ideologies are intentionally based in religious concepts.  The administrators of this party also likely understand that some of the issues that they advocate for will come into conflict with First Amendment rights, and they do likely know that if they ever do run candidates for local or state offices or for Congress, and their candidates do get elected, they will not likely be able to enact legislation that would accomplish all of their intended goals.  This party opposes abortion, they oppose LGBT marriage, and they oppose legalized pornography.  This party does advocate for redistribution of wealth- not based on Marxist- Leninist or Trotskyist ideologies like some of the parties whom I will mention in this article, but based on a very different concept of redistribution, which originated with the writings of Pope Leo XIII during the latter two decades of the 19th century.  This party has nominated Mike Maturen for President and Juan Munoz to run for Vice President this year.

The Constitution Party:  The Constitution Party was founded in 1991, this is another party which intentionally fuses their religious ideologies with their views on current issues.  The Constitution party opposes LGBT marriages, they oppose abortion and they seek to outlaw pornography, and they seek to abolish state lotteries.  This party advocates support for 2nd Amendment rights and capital punishment.  The Constitution Party advocates for repealing both the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth Amendments, they wish to abolish the Department Of Energy as well as to overturn the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Their opposition to the Voting Rights Act has actually placed this party on a watch list at the Southern Poverty Law CenterDarrell Castle is The Constitution Party’s 2016 Presidential candidate, and Scott N. Bradley is this party’s Vice Presidential candidate this year.  Darrell Castle is a former lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, he has worked as an attorney in Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin, and he has been active with the Constitution Party since 2008.

The Green Party Of The United States:  Although the name may make this party sound as if they are a single issue party, the Green Party is not a single issue party.  Although the Green Party does advocate for allocating a lot more funding for researching and implementing green technologies than any of the other parties, and that is integral to their agenda, this party also supports a diverse array of other issues too.  In addition to allocating funding for researching and implementing green technologies, this party advocates for LGBT rights, women’s rights, minority rights, prisoners’ rights, the rights of the homeless and undocumented migrants (or “aliens”), legalization of both recreational as well as medicinal marijuana, industrial hemp, and the Green Party also advocates for statehood status for Washington, D.C.   Jill Stein is The Green Party’s candidate for President this year.  Jill Stein is a medical doctor, she has worked in the suburbs of Boston for many years.  Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, 2006 as well as 2010, and she was the Green Party’s candidate for President in 2012.  Ajamu Baraka is the Green Party’s nominee for Vice President.  Ajamu Baraka has worked for the U.S. Human Rights Network, the Institute For Policy Studies, Amnesty International, the Center For Constitutional Rights as well as for Africa Action.

The Independent American Party:  The Independent American Party was founded in Utah in 1998, this is another one of the parties which intentionally infuses their religious ideologies with their views on current issues.  As has been with the case with the other parties whom I’ve discussed who post a lot of religious comments on their website, their party leadership likely understands that if they do succeed in getting any of their candidates elected to any offices in future years, they anticipate that some of their proposals will come into direct conflict with First Amendment issues.  Among the issues that the Independent American Party advocates for are outlawing abortion and stricter border controls along our border with Mexico.   Farley Anderson is the Independent American Party’s candidate for President this year. As of the time that I’m writing this article, Farely Anderson presently had no running mate, though it is entirely possible that he may select someone to run with him sometime between now and the elections in November.

The Libertarian Party:  The Libertarian Party was founded in Colorado in 1971, they are a left winged party, they advocate for a number of civil rights issues including minority rights, LGBT rights, they support legalized gambling, legalized prostitution, and they support the legalization of many controlled substances.  The Libertarain Party seeks to end capital punishment in the U.S.  Their agenda sometimes overlaps with some very conservative groups too, the Libertarian Party supports gun owners’ rights, which is rare among parties whose ideologies are so leftist, and they also support legalization of polygamy, which actually makes their agenda overlap with that of some Christian fundamentalist sects.  The Libertarian advocates for the U.S.’ removal from a number of international treaties and IGO’s, they advocate for our withdrawal from NATO and the WTO as well as ending NAFTA.  Since 2000, the Libertarian Party has succeeded in getting some of their candidates elected into the state legislatures in a handful of states.  The former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party’s 2016 Presidential candidate.  Gary Johnson had actually been a Republican when he was governor of New Mexico from 1995 through 2003, and he’d also been the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President in the 2012 elections.  The former governor of Massachusetts William Weld (1991- 1997) is the party’s Vice Presidential candidate this year.  William Weld had worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and later for the Justice Department during the 1980’s prior to his running for governor in 1990.  Like Gary Johnson, Weld had been a Republican prior to becoming a Libertarian.

The Nutrition Party:  As the name implies, the Nutrition Party is a single issue platform party.  The Nutrition Party is a new party, their platform is mostly oriented around raising awareness about issues relating to unhealthy dietary habits throughout the country.  This party is advocating for laws which would result in making it easier for supermarkets and restaurants which sell healthy foods and the farms which produce them to compete cost effectively with those that do not.  This party will likely want to pressure the Food And Drug Administration to either restrict the use of some of the food additives which are considered to be potentially unhealthy, or to raise awareness about certain food additives and processing techniques which they feel are unhealthy and underpublicized.  Rod Silva, who owns the Muscle Maker Grill chain of restaurants is The Nutrition Party’s 2016 Presidential candidate.  As of the time that I’m writing this article, this party has not selected a candidate for Vice President, though it is still quite possible that they may select someone to run for Vice President between now and the elections in November.

The Party For Socialism And Liberation:  The Party For Socialism And Liberation began in 2004 as an offshoot of the Workers World Party, so there is usually a lot of overlap in the ideologies of these two parties and in the issues that they advocate for.  The Party For Socialism And Liberation subscribes to Marxist Leninist ideologies.  This party advocates for the U.S. closing all of our military bases which are located in other countries, and they also advocate for decolonization (and hence, independence) for Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Marianna Islands.  Gloria La Riva is The Party For Socialism and Liberation’s nominee for President this year.  Gloria La Riva has been an activist since the 1980’s.  Prior to the founding of the Party For Socialism And Liberation, Gloria La Riva had been the Workers World Party’s candidate for mayor of San Francisco back in 1983, she ran for governor of California in 1994, she ran for President in 1992 and she has ran as the Vice Presidential candidate for President in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000. The Party For Socialism And Liberation has named Eugene Puryear as their Vice Presidential candidate, though because he is presently only 30 years old, he is not officially eligible to be a Vice Presidential candidate.  Eugene Puryear has also been active with the D.C. Statehood Green Party since 2008, and he is currently active with Black Lives Matter.

The Peace And Freedom Party:  The Peace And Freedom Party dates back to 1968.  This party is a left wing party, their ideologies are partially based in the principles of Socialism.  They advocate for a lot of civil rights issues that they feel that the two major parties are ignoring, including issues relating to Native American rights, minority rights, public housing and LGBT rights.  This party sometimes cross nominates candidates with other parties whose agenda overlaps with theirs, such as the Party For Socialism and Liberation as well as The Green Party.  Gloria La Riva is also running as the Peace And Freedom Party’s candidate for President in 2016, and the Peace And Freedom Party has selected Dennis Banks as their nominee for Vice President.  Dennis Banks has been an activist for many years, he was one of the founders of the American Indian Movement back in 1968, he taught at Stanford University in 1979, and he is currently on the board of trustees of Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota.

The Prohibition Party:  As the name implies, the Prohibition Party is another single issue party.  The Prohibition Party has existed in the U.S. since 1869.  The Prohibition Party advocates for the banning of ethyl alcohol nationwide, with exceptions for industrial and medical usage.  Some members of the Prohibition Party advocate for a complete ban on alcohol for religious reasons, others are opposed for health reasons, and other members of the party are opposed to ethyl alcohol for a combination of religious reasons and health concerns.  In December of 1933, Congress passed the Twenty First Amendment, which overturned the Eighteenth Amendment, thus ending the Federal ban on alcohol.  Following the passing of the 21st Amendment, the decision to allow, to restrict or to ban the production, consumption and sale of all beverages containing alcohol has been left to the individual states, counties and cities.  Presently, all states permit the sale of alcohol, although laws vary greatly between states as to what percentages of alcohol are permissible, which kinds of stores can sell which kinds of beverages, and during what days and hours the sale of beverages containing alcohol is permitted.  Within some states, the governments of some counties, cities and towns have opted to ban the sale of beer, wine and liquor entirely.  The Prohibition Party is not responsible for advocating for and enacting all of the local and state laws throughout the country which restrict the production and sale of alcohol, but they have been responsible for some of them, and they do continue to advocate for a nationwide ban.  Party membership has been steadily declining throughout the first one and a half decades of the twenty-first century, present membership in this party is small.  James Hedges is the Prohibition Party’s candidate for President this year, and his running mate is Bill Bayes.  James Hedges is the only candidate from the Prohibition Party who has successfully won an office in the 21st century so far; he has been the tax assessor in Thompson Township, Pennsylvania.

The Reform Party Of The United States Of America:   The Reform Party Of The United States Of America was founded in 1995 by Ross Perot.  This party seems to have changed their views on quite a few major issues relating to both domestic and foreign policy numerous times over the course of the past 20 years.  This party’s members have included people with very diverse views, including Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, Jesse Ventura and Alan Keyes.  Donald Trump had also been involved with this party back in the 1990’s.  If past performance is a predictor of future behavior, I wouldn’t be surprised if the party’s leadership changes their current positions on quite a few issues again between now and 2020.   Rocky De La Fuente is this party’s 2016 candidate for President, and this party has nominated Michael Steinberg as their Vice Presidential candidate.  Rocky De La Fuente has owned auto dealerships back in the 1970’s and the 1980’s, he has also owned currency exchanges.  He has also owned businesses in Mexico, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic.  Rocky De La Fuenta had originally begun his Presidential campaign earlier this year as a Democrat before moving to the Reform Party.  Michael Steinberg is an attorney in Florida, he has run for the state legislature in Florida previously.

The Socialist Equality Party:  This is one of the socialist parties within the U.S.  This party separated as an offshoot from the Socialist Worker’s Party back in the 1960’s.  Jerry White is this party’s 2016 candidate for President.  This party has selected Niles Niemuth to run as their Vice Presidential candidate, though Niles Niemuth is presently 28 years old, thus disqualifying him for being eligible to running for Vice President.

The Socialist Party USA:   As the name implies, the Socialist Party USA is another one of the parties which advocates for implementing socialism here in the U.S., in our Federal, state as well as our local governments.  This party was founded in 1973, they are the successor party to the Socialist Party Of America, which had been founded in 1901.  This party’s present membership is much smaller than the Socialist Equality Party’s current membership (likely no more than somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 active members nationwide), though they do have active members, active candidates, and this party’s Presidential candidates do succeed in winning a small handful of votes throughout the country every 4 years.  Mimi Soltysik is this party’s candidate for President this year, and his running mate is Angela Walker.

The Socialist Workers Party:  The Socialist Worker’s Party is the other active socialist party in this country; they were founded in 1928 when they seceded from the Communist Party USA.  Similar to the Socialist Equality Party and the Socialist Party USA, this party’s ideology is rooted in concepts from Marxism.  The websites of each of these three socialist parties that I’ve mentioned here present slightly different interpretations on socialism, and they each advocate for slightly approaches to applying the concepts of Socialism to numerous 21st century issues relating to both domestic and foreign policy.  Alyson Kennedy is the Socialist Worker’s Party’s candidate for President this year, and Osborne Hart is this party’s current Vice Presidential candidate.

The Workers World Party:  Similar to the Party For Socialism And Liberation which I’ve mentioned, the Workers World Party is presently the other party in the U.S. whose party leadership describes themselves as subscribing to the ideologies of communism.  As I’ve mentioned, the Party For Socialism And Liberation began in 2004 as an offshoot of this party, so there will be overlap in their ideologies and in the issues that they advocate for.  This party was founded in 1959, historically, the positions that they’ve advocated for have included opposition to the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and they’d been active in the racial equality movements and the women’s rights movements back in the 1970’s.  Presently, they advocate for racial equality as well as for LGBT rights.  In more recent years, this party has been vocal in their opposition to our involvement in Iraq, they’ve been advocating for Puerto Rican independence, and they are among the very few people in the U.S. who state that they support the current government of North Korea.  Monica Moorehead is this party’s nominee for President this year, and her running mate is Lamont Lilly.

The Veterans Party Of America:  The Veterans Party Of American began in 2003 as a reaction among some military veterans to Congress’ decision to cut funding for veterans’ benefits, but they are not a single issue party.  They have views on quite a few issues including proposals which address job creation, border security, immigration, education, foreign aid, balancing the Federal budget, tax reform, electoral reform, education and welfare. defense and foreign policy, separation of religion and state.  Chris Keniston is the Veterans Party Of America’s 2016 nominee for President, and this party’s Vice Presidential nominee is Deacon Taylor.

The American Independent Party:  The American Independent Party is also a third party, although Donald Trump and Mike Pence are also running on the American Independent Party’s ticket this year.  Their views on current issues have been very well publicized in quite a few publications throughout the world this year, and if you want to learn more about their views on the current issues, you will in fact see them in the upcoming debates throughout October.

The Commission On Presidential Debates will not invite any of these candidates to participate.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Commission On Presidential Debates will not invite any of these candidates whom I’ve mentioned to participate.  In fact, the people whom I’ve mentioned here aren’t even permitted to attend the debates as audience members.  In a famous incident back in 2000, Ralph Nader was nearly arrested for attempting to attend one of the debates simply as audience member.  Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested in October 2012 for attempting to demonstrate outside of the campus of Hofstra University after being denied access to the debates as audience members, and last week, the police again prohibited Jill from entering the Hofstra campus, where she had been intending to stage a demonstration to protest the commission’s continued refusal to permit any of the third party candidates to participate.

In some years, some of the staff members at C-Span arrange for a debate or a panel discussion for the third party candidates.  Some of the news shows on PBS also sometimes show coverage of the third party candidates, while the major networks mostly ignore them entirely or only mention them very briefly as side stories on most of their news shows.  Some of the foreign television news channels in other countries, such as BBC News or CBC News from Canada, for example also sometimes present a brief overview of our third party candidates on some of their news shows.

These parties represent a very diverse array of issues, they have very different agendas, their views on some issues directly contradict those of some of the other third party candidates whom I’ve mentioned here, though you will also find some issues in which some of these parties and these candidates do agree with each other on.  One of the very few issues (and probably the only issue) that all of these candidates whom I’ve mentioned will all mutually agree on is that the committee which organizes the debates does ensure that they will be excluded, that the boards of elections in most of our states make it difficult for the third party candidates to gain ballot access, and that is NOT what our country’s founding fathers had intended when they met in Philadelphia in May through September of 1787.

the Commission On Presidential Debates is comprised entirely of representatives from the Democrat and the Republican parties

As I mentioned earlier, the Commission On Presidential Debates is comprised entirely of representatives from the Democrat and the Republican parties.  It is important to remember here that the commission is a nonprofit corporation which is entirely privately funded, the commission does not receive any Federal funding, so they are in fact entirely permitted to opt to invite as well as to exclude whomever they want to when they organize the debates every four years.  This is why numerous lawsuits which various third parties have filed against the commission since 2000 have been dismissed by the courts.  While the activities of the commission are obviously entirely legal, by excluding the third parties from participating in the debates, they are clearly giving an enormous advantage to the candidates from the two major parties.

Prior to 1988, the Presidential debates used to be organized by The League Of Women Voters.  No the third party candidates participated in the 1976 debates, the League Of Women Voters did opt to include one of the third party candidates in the debates of 1980, and then we did not see any third party candidates in any of the Presidential debates again until 1992.

In this article, I’ve discussed 17 parties whose party leadership has made an active effort to get their 2016 Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates placed onto the ballots in some or all of the 50 states.  There are also a number of smaller parties who intentionally only maintain active chapters in a handful of states because they feel that they’ll only receive support for the issues that they represent in a handful of states, and these smaller parties only intend to attempt to place candidates for President on the ballots in a limited number of states.  I’ve not mentioned the third parties which are still active, but have not nominated any Presidential or Vice Presidential candidates this year.

In one of our upcoming issues of The Pavlovic Today, I’ll be writing an article about ballot access for the third parties.

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...

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