THE THIRD PARTIES:
THE "BIG THREE" THIRD PARTIES:Based upon vote performance over past two election cycles and ballot access
CONSTITUTION PARTY - Former [President] Nixon Administration official and one-time Conservative Coalition chair Howard Phillips founded the US Taxpayers Party (USTP) in 1992 as a potential vehicle for Pat Buchanan to use for a third party White House run -- had he agreed to bolt from the GOP in 1992 or 1996. The USTP pulled together several of the splintered right-wing third parties -- including the once mighty American Independent Party (below) -- into a larger political entity. The USTP renamed itself the Constitution Howard Phillips (USTP) 1992Party in 1999. The party is strongly pro-life, anti-gun control, anti-tax, anti-immigration, trade protectionist, "anti-New World Order," anti-United Nations, anti-gay rights, anti-welfare, and pro-school prayer.
GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES - The Green Party -- the informal US-affiliate of the leftist, environmentalist European Greens movement -- is one of the two largest third parties in the nation. The party regularly fields candidates for local, state and federal offices in many states, and has established active state affiliate parties in nearly all 50 states. The Greens scored a major political points when it convinced prominent consumer advocate Ralph Nader to run as their first Presidential nominee in 1996. Spending Vote Green Partyjust over $5,000, Nader was on the ballot in 22 states and carried over 700,000 votes (4th place - 0.8%). In 2000, Nader raised millions of dollars, mobilized leftist activists and grabbed national headlines with his anti-corporate campaign message. Nader ignored pleas from liberal Democrats that he abandon the race because he was siphoning essential votes away from Al Gore's campaign -- answering that Gore was not substantially different than Bush. In the end, Nader was on the ballot in 44 states and finished third with 2,878,000 votes (2.7%). More significantly, Nader missed the important 5% mark for the national vote, meaning the party remained ineligible for federal matching funds. Until 2001, the Greens were largely a collection of fairly autonomous state/local based political entities with only a weak (and sometimes splintered) national leadership structure that largely served to coordinate electoral activities. That faction -- formerly named the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP) -- was the larger and more moderate of the two unrelated Green parties. The ASGP voted in 2001 to convert from an umbrella coordinating organization into a formal, unified national party organization. Nader made another run in 2004 -- but ran as an Independent. Instead, Green Party General Counsel David Cobb of Texas won the Presidential nomination (ballot status in 29 states - 120,000 votes - 6th place - 0.1%). Cobb argued the party needed to nominate a candidate who openly belonged to the party (note: Nader had never joined) and was pledged to building the party at the local level. Cobb ran what was seen as a "safe-states" strategy -- a controversial move whereby Cobb only made major efforts to gain votes in states where a strong Green showing would not compromise the ability of the Democratic nominee to defeat Bush in the state. Democrats appreciated the move, but it weakened Cobb's message. For 2008, the Greens dumped the "safe states" strategy and instead tried to run a more aggressive campaign wherever possible. Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) joined the Greens in 2007, moved to California, and easily captured the Green nomination in 2008. McKinney was on the ballot in 32 states and garnered 161,0000 votes (6th place - 0.1%). Look for her to run again in 2012....
LIBERTARIAN PARTY - Founded in 1971, bills itself as "America's largest third party" (and, along with the Greens, are definitely among the two largest third parties in the nation). The Libertarians are neither left nor right: they believe in total individual liberty (pro-drug legalization, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-home schooling, pro-gun rights, etc.) and total economic freedom (anti-welfare, anti-government regulation of business, anti-minimum wage, anti-income tax, pro-free trade). The LP espouses a classical laissez faire ideology which, they argue, means "more freedom, less government and lower taxes." Over 400 LP members currently hold various -- though fairly low level -- government offices (including lots of minor appointed officials like "School District Facilities Task Force Member" and "Town Recycling Committee Member"). In any given election year, the LP fields more local and federal candidates than any other US third party -- although the LP has clearly been eclipsed by the Greens in size since 1996 in terms of having the largest third party following and garnering more media attention. Ed Clark for President / David Koch for VP (Libertarian) 1980 Former 1988 LP Presidential nominee Ron Paul is now a Republican Congressman from Texas -- and made libertarian ideological runs for the a 2008 and 2012 GOP Presidential nomination (although Paul remains a "life member" of the LP). The LP's biggest problem: Congressmen Ron Paul [???} and Paul Broun [???], humorist/journalist PJ O'Rourke, the Republican Liberty Caucus and others in the GOP who attract ideological libertarians into the political arena by arguing they can bring about libertarian change more easily under the Republican label. In 2008, former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) and former US Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) both switched to the LP and campaigned for the party's Presidential nomination -- and Barr won the nomination (but Barr rejoined the GOP in 2011). As the LP nominee, Barr had ballot status in 45 states and captured 525,000 votes (4th place - 0.4%). In terms of results, the LP hit the high point in 1980 when LP Presidential nominee and oil industry attorney Ed Clark -- with billionaire industrialist David Koch as his VP running mate and campaign financer -- carried over 921,000 votes (1.1%). Subsequent LP nominees for the next dozen years, though not as strong as... And, FYI, the LP typically obtains ballot status for the Presidential nominee in all 50 states. The LP also has active affiliate parties in every state. The party has been divided for years between two fighting factions: a more purist/hardcore libertarian group and a more moderate "reform" faction.... . The LP web site features a link to the World's Smallest Political Quiz -- designed by LP co-founder David Nolan -- and take the quiz to see if you're a libertarian (a bit simplistic, and slanted in favor of the LP, but interesting just the same).
Smaller Third Parties (quixotically all third parties; there are no fourth partie3s listed).
Fourth Parties: None.
Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul ☑
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