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Guide to Local Elections: Third Party Edition

Jack McClatchy ’17, Sean Upadhyay ’19

Don’t like Clinton or Trump? These parties might be for you.

This election season is unique due to the historical unfavorables for both the Republican and Democratic nominees for President.

It’s allowed for various third parties across the country to try and woo over uninspired Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. These are a few parties running candidates in the area.

Libertarian Party

Shawn House
Shawn House / house2congress.com

The most relevant of the third parties this election season, the Libertarian Party is the largest third party in the country, with over 400,000 registered members. Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld make up the presidential ticket.

Shawn House is the state chairman of the Libertarian Party and a candidate for the 16th Congressional District, which includes parts of Chester, Lancaster, and Berks Counties. He is running against Republican Lloyd Smucker and Democrat Christina Hartman. He is running on a platform of fiscal conservatism and social tolerance.

“We really abide by the Non-Aggression Principle,” he said. “It means that we believe in persuasion versus coercion with legislation. We respect that people own themselves, not the federal government.”

House said that he and the party supports ending the war on drugs, fighting the “surveillance state”, and having a strong national defense while at the same time not carrying out an interventionist foreign policy.

“The enforcement of this country’s drug policy has been selective,” he said. “And it is based in racism, going all the way back to Richard Nixon when he started this.”

House said that a decriminalization of all drugs is necessary, and that prohibition has failed in stopping drug abuse.

“These people need rehabilitation,” he said. “Not imprisonment.”

The Party also has Edward Clifford III running for US Senate, Paul Rizzo for Congress in the 15th congressional district, and candidates for the State Legislature in Carbon, Luzerne, and Northampton counties.

Green Party

Kristin Combs / ballotpedia.com
Kristin Combs / ballotpedia.com

The next most popular third party in the United States is the Green Party. The party is gaining a lot of traction from liberal Democrats and independents who are displeased with this year’s nominee.

The Green Party has representation in 45 states and has over 13,000 members in Pennsylvania, according to State chairperson Kristin Combs. The Party advocates for a “Green New Deal”, campaign finance and electoral reform. Jill Stein is on the Green Party presidential ticket for the 2016 election, with vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka.

State chairperson and candidate for State Treasurer Kristin Combs said that the main difference between the Green and Democratic parties is that the Greens do not take money from corporations or political action committees.

“Our party is for the people,” she said. “Not for the corporate interests.”

Combs also said that there are many similarities in the Green platform and the platform of the Socialist Party of the United States, but the Greens have better infrastructure in Pennsylvania.

“We have formal recognition as a party in Pennsylvania, and the Socialist Party doesn’t,” she said. “And as a result a lot of socialists, especially in Philadelphia, are registered Green.”

The Greens are running candidates where Combs said they know they won’t win.

“People ask me that all the time,” she said. “There are more reasons to run than to win. We run to keep awareness for the Party and what it stands for, which makes it easier to get 5% of the vote nationally for federal funding, which is really important.”

Constitution Party

Darrell Castle / castle2016.com
Darrell Castle / castle2016.com

The Constitution Party is another third party with Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley are on the ticket for President. It has ballot access in 35 states, and is active in over 30 counties in Pennsylvania. It is the most active in Warren, Lancaster, and Allegheny counties, and according to state chairman Bob Goodrich a tally in 2012 had over 4000 registered members.

“We’re certain the number has gone up since then,” he said. “We’ve been getting a lot of interest in the past two months, particularly in the Philadelphia area.”

The Party has seven central principles that guides the party’s policies: life, liberty, family, property, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, states’ rights, and national sovereignty. Goodrich said however that the Party believes in principle over power, preferring to lose with honor, than win with dishonor.

“Power shifts between the parties,” he said. “And if you sacrificed your principles for power, and lose that power, what will you have left?”

There are some similarities between the Constitution and Libertarian parties, but Goodrich said that there a few substantial differences.

“We have a lot of similarities with them,” he said of Libertarians. “We however have a focus on morality, especially when it comes to drugs and prostitution. You can be for freedom, but it seems to me that they border on anarchism with some of their policies. There has to be some restraint.”

The Party takes the Constitution seriously, and intends to reduce the federal government to its intended state.

“We misinterpret and misunderstand both (the Constitution and Bill of Rights),” Goodrich said. “Especially the Tenth Amendment, which has given us unneeded government which is taking us in the wrong direction.”

About Sean Upadhyay

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