It’s tough being the third wheel
Third-party candidates can have an important role in the 2012 election
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Come Nov. 6, there are two names on the ballot most Americans will recognize. But it is the names under “Barack Obama” and “Mitt Romney” that will likely go unnoticed.
Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Virgil Goode and Rocky Anderson are just four of the many third-party candidates who will appear on a ballot in many states this year. Although it is a near certainty they will not win the presidency, third-party candidates can still have a crucial role in this election.
The Democratic and Republican parties fear a third-party candidate taking away votes from their candidates in key swing states. According to CNN, during the 2000 presidential election, Republican candidate George Bush won the state of Florida by just over 500 votes.
Independent candidate Ralph Nader, a candidate who many Democrats identified with, received over 94,000 votes. By losing Florida, Democratic candidate Al Gore lost the election. Many Democrats attribute that loss to Nader being on the ballot.
In states like Ohio and Virginia this year, the margin of victory is expected to be so small, that even if 1 or 2 percent of the vote supports the third party, it could be enough to swing the state in either direction.
Gary Johnson – Libertarian Party
Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, is the Libertarian party’s nomination. Jim Gray – a judge from Los Angeles and an advocate of drug law reformation – is his running mate. As governor, Johnson was elected as a Republican and many of his policies are similar to the Republican’s platform.
Johnson believes businesses should be regulated less and taxes should be lowered. He even goes so far as calling for the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), all income tax, all corporate taxes and all taxes on capital gains. However, he opposes all stimulus programs and supports a limitless cap on campaign contributions.
He believes a steep cut in military spending is the fastest way to reduce the deficit. Johnson pledges to end the military presence in Afghanistan and believes the United States can maintain its strength through peace and diplomacy.
Johnson supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
Johnson’s name will appear on the ballot in 48 states.
Jill Stein – Green Party
Stein, a physician and environmentalist, is the Green Party’s nomination with Cheri Honkala, a human rights advocate, as her running mate. Stein unsuccessfully ran against Romney for governor of Massachusetts in 2002.
The Green Party has a foundation in environmental responsibility. Stein plans to lower the unemployment rate by creating jobs in areas that support a “green economy,” like sustainable and renewable energy, clean manufacturing and public transportation. She also pledges to end what she calls environmentally dangerous practices, like fracking. Stein, along with others, claims fracking – a process of collecting natural gas from the ground – is detrimental to the environment.
Stein supports a progressive tax structure and strict campaign finance reform. She is also a strong proponent of a government-mandated healthcare system.
Stein plans on cutting the defense budget in half, ending the war in Afghanistan and closing over 140 U.S. military bases around the world.
Like Johnson, Stein supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
Stein’s name will appear on the ballot in 38 states.
Virgil Goode – Constitution Party
Goode, a former Virginia congressman from 1996 to 2006, is the Constitution Party’s nomination. James Clymer, a lawyer from Pennsylvania, is his running mate. Goode was a member of both the Democratic and Republican parties before joining the Constitution Party in 2010.
Goode plans to create a national sales tax and eliminate both the income and estate taxes. He also opposes free-trade agreements and government-mandated healthcare. Goode said reducing regulations and becoming energy independent will lower unemployment.
He pledges to end the war in Afghanistan and to cut the defense budget in order to reduce the deficit.
Goode is strongly anti-abortion and opposes same-sex marriage. He also plans to implement stricter programs to eliminate illegal immigration and make English the official language of the nation.
Goode’s name will appear on the ballot in 26 states.
Rocky Anderson – Justice Party
Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah from 2000 to 2008, is the Justice Party’s nomination. Luis Rodriguez, a writer and community organizer, is his running mate.
Anderson plans to balance the budget and reduce the deficit through spending cuts and a new, restructured and fair tax code. He also plans to reform campaign finance laws and break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and place stricter regulations on corporations. He supports government-mandated healthcare.
Anderson calls for an immediate end to all ongoing wars. He believes diplomacy is more effective than a military presence.
Anderson supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He believes drug abuse should be looked at as a health issue instead of a criminal issue. He also is a staunch environmentalist and plans to protect natural resources, create a model to reduce energy consumption and lower pollution.
Anderson’s name will appear on the ballot in 15 states.