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Third Parties
Politics and Economy:
Election 2004
More on This Story:
Third-Party Candidates and Platforms

What issues are the American people not hearing about from George Bush and John Kerry? David Brancaccio talks to four major third-party candidates about the topics they believe should be part of the national dialogue. Read about the candidates and their parties below, or learn more about role of third parties in this election year.

Michael BadnarikDavid CobbRalph NaderMichael Peroutka

David Brancaccio talks with Reform Party Presidential nominee Ralph Nader and Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka

David Brancaccio talks Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik

Michael Badnarik
Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party

The Candidate
Lighting the fires of liberty, one heart at a time. — Badnarik/Campagna '04 Campaign Slogan
Michael Badnarik's official campaign site biography reports that he was "put off by the 'politics of politics' until his greater understanding of the Constitution led him to the Libertarian Party, and a renewed optimism." He represents some of the strictest Libertarian anti-government interpretations in a party whose statement of principles holds that "all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose."

Badnarik not only maintains that federal income tax has "no legal authority" and people are justified in refusing to file tax returns (he hasn’t filed a return in years), but he refuses to get a driver's license because the state requires fingerprints and Social Security numbers. At the top of Badnarik’s personal agenda is gun rights — he is strongly against gun control regulation.

The Libertarian Party
The Libertarian Party platform limits itself to broader anti-government concerns. Simply stated, they advocate:

  • individual liberty and personal responsibility
  • a free-market economy of abundance and prosperity
  • a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade.

Thus the party calls the war in Iraq "a colossal failure" because of its stated commitment to non-interventionism. The Libertarian Party also opposes the USA Patriot Act on the grounds that it curtails American civil liberties. In the economic sphere the commitment to non-interference leads to a call for a quick end to most forms of government regulation of the market. In social issues the Libertarian Party takes a non-intrusive stance, advocating the end of the "War on Drugs" and that like business partners, any couple, gay or straight, should be allowed to enter into a marriage.

David Cobb
David Cobb, Green Party

The Candidate
A former construction worker and grandson of a Baptist preacher, David Cobb is the Green Party nominee for President in 2004. Until declaring his candidacy, Cobb served as the General Counsel for the Green Party of the United States. In early 2000, Ralph Nader asked Cobb to manage the Green Party effort in Texas and he went on to run as the Green Party of Texas (GPTX) candidate for Attorney General in 2002. Cobb lectures and facilitates "Rethinking Corporations/Rethinking Democracy" seminars and workshops across the country, which "explore the social, legal and historical context of how corporations have become the dominant institution of our times. These seminars focus on how corporations have become unelected governing institutions, and how we can provoke (and win) a nonviolent democratic revolution in response."

The Cobb/LaMarche campaign is "committed to building a strong and vibrant Green Party, to offer voters an ongoing alternative to the two-party system." David Cobb and Patricia LaMarche support the Green Party candidates running for local office across the country, and articulate Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) as the best solution to the “spoiler” problem. They endorse the Million Worker March and Racial Justice Week.

The Green Party
The Green Party of the United States is a federation of state Green Parties. Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are for renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors.

The "Ten Key Values" of the Greens are guiding principles that are adapted and defined to fit each state and local chapter. Those ratified at the Green Party Convention in Denver, CO, in June 2000 were grassroots democracy; social justice and equal opportunity; ecological wisdom; non-violence; decentralization; community-based economics and economic justice; feminism and gender equity; respect for diversity; personal and global responsibility; and future focus and sustainability.

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader, Independent

The Candidate
There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship toward "a new birth of freedom." — Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is running his second official campaign for the office of President of the U.S., this time as an independent candidate. Nader has founded or organized more than 100 civic organizations spanning many issue areas, including tax reform; pensions; regulation of atomic power; renewable energy; clean elections; food, medicine and auto safety; access to healthcare; civil justice; Congressional ethics; campaign finance; the tobacco industry; corporate crime and reform; investor protection; agribusiness and small farms; intellectual property; freedom of information; and government procurement.

The Nader Platform and the Reform Party
In the 2000 presidential race, Nader campaigned under the banner "Not for Sale." In the 2004 election, he aims to "take our democracy back from the corporate interests that dominate both parties.... Ralph is running, as all third-party and Independent candidates do, to mobilize citizens behind an issues agenda — a fundamental solution revolution — for the American people that neither major party will discuss or adopt."

This year, the Ralph Nader/Peter Miguel Camejo ticket failed to win the Green Party endorsement. Nader is officially running as an independent. In May 2004, Nader received the endorsement and de facto nomination of the Reform Party. He still plans to maintain status as an independent, but will run under the Reform banner in the states in which the association facilitates his name appearing on the ballot.

The Reform Party is committed to reform the political system, working to "re-establish trust in our government by electing ethical officials, dedicated to fiscal responsibility and political accountability."

Mike Peroutka
Michael Peroutka, Constitution Party

The Candidate
The candidate of the Constitution Party Michael Peroutka is a Maryland attorney with a long record of socially conservative activism, particularly on behalf of supporting the right to life, the right to keep and bear arms, and other Constitutional causes. Active in several church organizations, Peroutka advocates the view that the Constitution is founded on the Bible and can't be sustained without a biblically-grounded judiciary. Peroutka is the founder and director of the Institute on the Constitution, a nationwide program teaching the principles incorporated in the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution.

The Constitution Party
The Constitution Party, formerly known as the American Taxpayers Party, advocates the “restoration of our government to its Constitutional limits and our law to its Biblical foundation.” Practically speaking, their platform advocates limiting the powers of the federal government those explicitly spelled out in the Constitution and the reservation of more power to the states and localities. Among the powers the party wants to see removed from the federal government are those of copyright and patents, military draft and the end to the Department of Energy. The Constitution Party would also stop almost all federal domestic aid. The party is concerned with what it sees as the “weakening of the influence of religious morality on public life.” Their party platform’s preamble makes their theological stance clear:

The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States. This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some party members feel the Constitution Party’s place on the ballot is a necessity because President Bush has betrayed conservative principles, specifically by expanding the scope of federal government, favoring certain gun laws, support of the United Nations and his stance on abortion. Mr. Peroutka has repeatedly said that he would gladly step aside if the party found a "big-name" person willing to run under the party's banner, but as of today he is the party’s candidate on the ballot. Peroutka will also appear on some state ballots as the nominee of the Alaskan Independence Party (AKIP), the Independent American Party (IAP), and the American Independent Party of California (AIP).

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