Opinion: Third-party candidates Wrongfully Ignored in Presidential Election

Ella Mcleod, Staff Writer

When most Americans are deciding whom to vote for this fall, they will see two candidates: Barack Obama, our Democratic president, and Mitt Romney, his Republican contender.

Unfortunately that means third-party candidates will be overlooked. Americans tend to vote for the candidate they think will win, which rules out any candidate who is not a Democrat or a Republican.

But if we elected presidents on the basis of a popular vote only, rather than the Electoral College, everyone’s vote would count. Even if third-party candidates did not win the election, they would get enough votes to attract media attention, and more people would hear about their platforms, which could possibly result in future victories.

The presidential election now underway features a range of candidates with straightforward stances on the most talked-about issues.

Gary Johnson, two-time governor of New Mexico, is the Libertarian presidential nominee.

“He’s fiscally conservative, and socially … cool,” raves a video complete with country western background music that automatically plays when you visit his website.

Johnson supports small government, and believes that it should stay out of health care, arguing that competition, price transparency, and innovation will fix the problem of uninsured Americans. He supports conventionally conservative causes, such as the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Nonetheless, he also takes some more liberal stances, such as being pro-choice and supporting marriage equality. His three-step plan to heal the economy consists of cutting spending, cutting taxes, and reducing federal involvement in the economy. His views could reflect those of millions of Americans, yet he remains a ghost in the current election because he is not affiliated with the Republican or Democratic Party.

Then there’s Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, whose platform revolves around what is called the “New Green Deal.”  Based on the plan that rescued the economy after the Great Depression, it has its own green twist.

The first step of Stein’s plan is to create 25 million jobs in sustainable energy. The plan also involves breaking up big banks and giving workers the right to a living wage.  Stein has proposed to create tuition-free education from kindergarten through college, a Medicare-for-all insurance program and access to birth control. She also supports marriage equality, and an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. An improved global economy, she argues, will reduce the flow of immigration.

Virgil Goode, the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party, is in a category of his own.

Not only does Goode support English as the official language of the United States; he also believes cuts should be made to the No Child Left Behind education law and The National Endowment for the Arts pending a revived economy.

Goode also wants to put a moratorium on green cards ”until our unemployment rate is under 5 percent,” according to his website at goodeforpresident2012.com.  He also opposes gay marriage, and believes Planned Parenthood should receive zero funding.

I’m not saying that third party candidates are the answer to the recession we are attempting to overcome.  But there are other options out there, which are overlooked but could be viable.

The way we elect presidents today eliminates the chance for the little man, or woman, to become a nameable politician.  If we could agree to elect a president based on the popular vote, that chance could increase. Until then, third-party candidates have little except the mantra of the 2008 campaign: Hope.

“It is clear from the reaction to our campaign so far that our message is resonating,” said Johnson in a speech on May 5 in Greenville, S.C. “I look forward to continuing to take this message to all Americans.”

UPDATE: Even with speculation that some of the third-party candidates may cost Obama or Romney a few swing states, none of them received a substantial amount of votes.  To see exactly how successful they were, read this article by the Village Voice Blogs