Almost no significant press coverage is given to third party candidates for the US presidency, a factor that helps ensure that the election is a race between two major parties even as this time around both the presumed Republican candidate Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats are heartily disliked by many Americans.
Yet there are third party candidates on both the right and the left who voters can choose in states where they are able to run.
I have already written an article on the leftist choice, Jill Stein of the Green Party. This brief article is on the "right" choice Gary Johnson. I put "right" in quotes since while Libertarians are very much on the right with respect to economic issues demanding smaller governments and less government spending and reliance on free markets, on social issues or foreign policy they can very well be on the left.
Johnson has considerable experience as a politician having served two terms as Republican Governor of the state of Arizona, He won his second term even against a popular Hispanic Democratic candidate. He was widely praised for his leadership during fires in the state even by Democratic member of Congress Tom Udall. Governors are limited to two terms in Arizona.
In 1999, Johnson became the first high-ranking elected politician to advocate the decriminalization of marijuana. He claimed that the "War on Drugs" was a high-costing bust. He advocated not just decriminalizing marijuana but the adoption of harm-reduction policies for other illegal drugs. He said that illegal drug use should be considered a health issue rather than a crime problem.
In January of this year, Johnson announced that he would seek to be the presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party. In May, he chose former Republican Governor of Massachusetts, William Wald as his vice-presidential running mate. On May 29 he won the nomination on the second ballot with 55.8 percent of delegates at the Libertarian nominating convention.
A recent Pew Research Center poll shows Hillary Clinton at 45 percent to 35 percent for Trump while Johnson has 10 percent. This is about twice what Jill Stein polls when she is included. However among younger millenials Johnson and Stein do reasonably well.
A Quinnipiac poll shows that among those aged 18 to 34 , Clinton polled 45 percent, Trump, 21 percent, with Johnson at 12 percent and Stein at 10 percent. The two third party candidates are obviously hurting Trump among this group.
Johnson is expected to get on the ballot in all 50 states are rare occurrence for a third-party candidate.
Now that Hillary Clinton is certain to be the presidential candidate for the Democrats leftists are faced with the usual situation in US politics of picking the lesser of two evils. In this case that would presumacbly mean voting for Clinton and helping her defeat Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders, self-declared socialist, engaged in an exciting run during the primaries which energized many leftists within the party and created important debates about issues.
However, he is now turning his fire on Trump and it seems clear that he will end up supporting Clinton while trying to add some progressive planks to the Democratic platform. Elizabeth Warren another popular figure among leftists has also endorsed Clinton. After all is said and done the Democrats have a candidate who has strong links to Wall Street and is likely to have a hawkish foreign policy that already brought the US the disaster of Libya.
There are alternatives to the candidates of the two main parties, Jill Stein of the Green Party is one. Stein is the presumptive nominee of the Green Party. The convention is not until August 4. Stein represents herself as a Plan B to continue fighting the revolution that Sanders talked about. Stein is not worried that Elizabeth Warren will be able to keep leftists within the Democratic fold saying: “Elizabeth Warren has very good proposals regarding Wall Street, but she really has not been leading the charge for single-payer health care … and is pretty much a war hawk in alignment with Hillary Clinton.”
Warren is very much a pro-Israel politician in contrast to Stein who is quite critical of Israeli policies. Stein has accused the Israeli government of "apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, collective punishment, and indefinite detention, all in defiance of international law". Stein is critical of Obamacare and recommends a "Medicare-for-All," health care system. Stein herself is a physician.
A recent poll by Bloomberg, shows that only 55 percent of Sanders voters are ready to vote for Clinton. There could be a large exodus from the Democratic party by Sanders voters. There is also likely to be a migration towards the Libertarian Party and their nominee Gary Johnson by Republican voters who cannot stomach Trump.
While the platform of Sanders and Stein are similar, Stein opposes the use of drones unlike Sanders. Stein is in favor of free college tuition as in Finland. She would also cancel all student debt. Stein expects to get on the ballot in all but three states. Stein is also beginning to register in the polls reaching 5 percent in one recent poll and 4 in another.
Stein is not concerned by the fact she may hurt the Democrats. She will campaign even in states where she might cause the Democrats to lose. She is critical of Clinton just as she is of Trump saying: “While it's horrifying to hear the draconian things that @realDonaldTrump is talking about, we've actually seen @HillaryClinton doing them.”
She also questioned Clinton as a representative of feminism saying: “I think it’s an offense to the concept of feminism to say that Hillary Clinton—and her advocacy for war, for Wall Street and for the ‘Walmart Economy’—represents feminism.” Of course, both Stein and Johnson are represented as spoilers.
Giving the populace an alternative to vote for rather than Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum spoils things for those who think that there should be no alternative to the two party system. The president, according to this narrative, should be the nominee who gets the most votes in a pure two party race.
When there are others running, votes which should have gone to one of the two parties go elsewhere and spoil the game. Its much cheaper if the establishment has only two parties to buy.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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