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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Pick Your Third Party Candidate

    It seems silly that in a country where well over 100 million people will be voting Tuesday, the vast majority will be pulling the lever for either Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain, members of two different mainstream political parties.

    In a nation of diverse backgrounds and ideas, how is it possible that, year after year, we are able to package all these ideas into only two different people?

    Surely, the variety that exists in the ideas of the populace should be reflected in the politician’s party platforms. Yet during every election we continue to vote in politicians who tread the party line, and refuse to determine policy from outside the box.

    Historically, the only man elected president not associated with a mainstream political party was none other than our first president, George Washington. Since then, usually there have been two political parties at a time, eagerly associating themselves with candidates in order to increase their own political power and influence. The only independent candidate in modern times to have attracted large scale attention was Ross Perot in 1992, who, at his peak, was polling at 40 percent on a strong economics platform.

    His candidacy suffered when he temporarily withdrew from the race, but still managed to capture 19 percent of the popular vote, but no electoral college votes.

    This year, I challenge readers, especially independent ones — but even unaffiliated voters — to carefully examine third party and independent candidates. This year, vote for a candidate that best represents your actual beliefs, no matter what they are, rather than voting for a candidate that you consider the “lesser of two evils.”

    The only reason some party’s candidates are considered mainstream, and have a better chance of winning, is because most voters conform their opinions around what politicians are telling them. In a representative democracy, we should be thinking the other way around: What candidate best represents me? Here is a short guide to less mainstream candidates, but I recommend doing more research on all of them before casting your vote. Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr is running on the Libertarian party ticket this year, with businessman running mate Wayne Allyn Root. Although he will only be appearing on the ballots of 45 states, you will be seeing his name on New York ballots this Tuesday.

    The Libertarian platform, in general, advocates a return to small government policies, in terms of foreign intervention and domestic programs. Barr has particularly expounded on his disagreement with widespread government policy of federal bailouts for mortgage companies and investment banks, due to the use of taxpayer funds for “corporate welfare.”

    A vote for Barr, according to his followers, will increase in liberty for Americans and the world and protect the freedoms granted in the constitution. Some internal Libertarian Party, however, opposition accuses Barr of being a Republican in Libertarian clothing, owing to past policy not in line with Libertarian dogma, while a congressman. Ralph Nader is a familiar face for voters. He ran under the Green Party’s banner in 1996 and 2000, but ran as an independent candidate in 2004 and again this year. Nader is the champion of humanitarianism, consumer protectionism and environmentalism, most of his support probably coming from disaffected liberal Democrats.

    Although his political campaigns have never attracted overwhelming votes, he has hundreds of dedicated followers campaigning for his causes. There is also some debate about his possible role as a spoiler for the Democratic candidate this year, as some Democrats still blame him for attracting votes away from Bob Dole during the 2000 election’s Florida controversy.

    Nader is currently on the ballot in 45 states and is running with Matt Gonzalez. Nader is considered to be the third party candidate with the greatest chance of success; he is polling between 4-8 percent in national polls, higher than any other non-mainstream candidate. With a conservative spin on Libertarianism, Chuck Baldwin, of the Constitution Party, may appeal to small government Republicans who feel their party has lost its way, in terms of the preservation of liberty and an aggressive foreign policy. Endorsed by congressman Ron Paul (R.-Texas), this candidate could be surprising a few pundits in the election outcome this Tuesday. However, some sticking points with other small government supporters are the Constitution Party’s proposal to restrict illegal and legal immigration and its opposition to euthanasia and abortion, but support of the death penalty.

    The Green Party is running the former Democrat and six-term congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, for president. McKinney favors a non-interventionist foreign policy and, in particular, a quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

    On domestic issues, the Greens favor social welfare, with no limit to the beneficiaries of entitlement programs, universal health care and an environmental policy which favors government funding for alternative, nonpolluting sources. McKinney will be on the ballot in 31 states this Tuesday, including in New York. Calling yourself a socialist in American is controversial, but the Socialist Party USA has been fielding presidential candidates since 1976. This year, their candidate is Brian Moore, who’s also running under the Liberty Union Party. If you’re for troop withdrawal from Iraq, the democratic public control of the economy and society, direct participatory democracy, socialized medicine, guaranteed employment, and government provided housing for all citizens, then the Socialist Party candidate may be for you.

    Of course, there are a couple of other parties fielding candidates that I haven’t mentioned, including the Libertarian-minded, recently formed “Boston Tea Party” and others.

    Before casting your vote this Tuesday, make sure you know all the candidates that are running and see if their platforms appeal to you more than the candidates on the mainstream Republican and Democrat tickets.

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