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Third-party candidates offer alternative platforms

Photo: Connie Ma/flickr

As supporters of the Obama and Romney tickets hold their breath through tomorrow’s election, another subset of individuals — often forgotten by the mainstream media — are also bracing for the results.

Third-party candidates — heralded by some as encouraging debate and criticized by others as “delusional” — are set on influencing the national conversation about a litany of issues, from taxes to immigration to the environment.

In Ohio, the hotly-contested swing state that many say may decide the outcome of the 2012 election, there are five candidates on the ballot for president other than Obama and Romney, including Libertarian Gary Johnson, Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party.

Johnson, Stein and Goode as well as Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson all participated in the Third-Party Presidential debate on October 23, moderated by Larry King and hosted by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation (see video below).

During the debate, Johnson struck back at those critical of his third-party candidacy. “Wasting your vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in,” he said.

Johnson is pushing hard to win five percent of the vote this election, with the hopes of strengthening a future run for office. Taking five percent of the vote would allow Johnson to receive federal funding for his next run, allow him to compete in mainstream debates and ensure his name is on the ballot in most states.

For other third-party candidates, it’s as much about the issues as the percentage points.

Dr. Stein’s campaign aims to refocus the national conversation to the critical environmental challenges facing the United States. Her platform’s centerpiece is the “Green New Deal,” which she described in an interview with Need to Know as “life saving, job saving and climate saving:”

By moving to a green economy – we end the jobs crisis and the economic crisis by jump starting the jobs and reviving the economy. We did it during the Great Depression with the New Deal, and we can do it again.

We will halt the climate crisis by jump-starting the green economy and also by ending our fossil fuel emissions. And of course, by leading the way for the world to do the same thing – but we can go a long way to mitigate climate emissions by ourselves.

Regardless of your opinion on the third-party candidates, their positions offer alternatives for voters who do not feel fully represented by the Democratic and Republican parties.

For the Seattle Times, columnist Thanh Tan wrote,

Third party candidates in this country can’t get a fair shake. They simply don’t have the money or the organization to get their message out to the masses. What they do bring to our political discourse is a dose of authenticity and independent thinking that seems to be lacking in our Republican and Democratic candidates, whose images and words are meticulously shaped by political operatives within their own parties.

Activist Ralph Nader told Politico that “he thinks the press will need to engage in some ‘introspection after the election’ after largely ignoring the third party candidates — three of whom have held prominent elected positions — in 2012.”

The media basically says, ‘If they don’t have a chance to win, don’t cover them. I don’t know why they cover baseball teams in their areas that are in the cellar.’

What do you think? Moving forward, should third party candidates have more of a place in presidential politics? Or, should the media and voters continue to focus on the Republican and Democratic nominees for the White House?