Ballots offer more than two candidates
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 21:10
The first female president of the United States could be elected into office this year, as could the first agnostic president. Voters who believe every presidential election is a choice between Democratic and Republican candidates might be surprised to learn that there are three other men and one woman running in the race with Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
These candidates are Jill Stein, representing the Green Party, Rocky Anderson, representing the Justice Party, Gary Johnson, representing the Libertarian Party and Virgil Goode, representing the Constitution Party.
All are third party candidates, meaning that they are not members of the Democrat or Republican parties. Though they will not appear on ballots in all 50 states, they could still theoretically win the election if they earn enough votes in their approved districts.
So why worry about these candidates if they have a smaller chance to win the election? Beyond being names on a ballot, what these candidates and their parties offer are more options for voters who do not support the policies of this election’s frontrunners.
Every election cycle, the largest third parties nominate their own candidates for president and present their own platforms for how they think the United States should function. These platforms are often a mix of Republican and Democratic principles and can be a better choice for voters who support some, but not all, of the policies of the two major parties.
For example, libertarians are often financially conservative, like the Republican Party, while being socially liberal, like the Democratic Party. A libertarian might believe in smaller government influence in the economy while at the same time supporting gay marriage.
In fact, while a majority of Americans identify as Republican or Democrat, there are more than 50 active political parties in the United States representing a wide range of political positions. Voters who research these parties could find a party that better represents the causes they support.
Voters who support legislation that would legalize can join the United States Marijuana Party, voters who support communist policies can join the Communist Party of the United States of America, and voters who think the rent is too damn high can join the Rent is Too Damn High Party founded by former 2012 Presidential candidate Jimmy McMillan.
Not all of these parties nominate a presidential candidate, but they all campaign at the local, state or federal government level for specific causes that might be overlooked or underrepresented in discussions by the Democrats or Republicans. It is important to remember that a general election accompanies the presidential election, and affects more of our elected representation.
Though smaller membership can keep a third party from getting the attention that the Democrats and Republicans receive, those members can work together to provide an important voice for smaller or developing topics.
Any voters who doubt the ability of new political parties to inspire nationwide change can read about the story of a small political party founded in 1854. As with many modern third parties, the party campaigned for one of the most controversial social topics of the day: the abolition of slavery. The party was only six years old when it nominated Senator Abraham Lincoln as a candidate in the 1860 presidential election.
That party was the Republican Party and is now one of the two largest and most influential in the United States.