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Third-party candidates try again to attract more voters


With less than a week to go before the 2016 presidential election takes its swan song, the electoral fireworks continue to ignite.

From accusations of racism lodged against both major party candidates, to the leaking of private e-mails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that support claims of shady dealings in favor of Hillary Clinton, to a decades-old audio tape that apparently demonstrates Republican nominee Donald Trump’s not-so-warm feelings toward women; and in the last few days, the downfall of a revered African American Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who allegedly was illegally sharing debate questions with Democratic nominee Clinton prior to a primary face-off.

In a perfect world, African Americans would have the luxury of voting for a presidential candidate who could jump start our economy and make life substantially better.

But Tobe Johnson, chair of the political science department at Morehouse College, knows very well that 2016 is not even close to being a perfect world. With the stark differences between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates on display during the third and final debate held Oct. 19 at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, Johnson’s contention is that Blacks don’t have the luxury (even if they wanted to) of voting for third-party or independent candidates that he calls “distractions” from reality.

However America’s fascination with third-party/independent candidates this election cycle remains very high, particularly the interest in Bernie Sanders remaining in the race. In fact, in Los Angeles County for example, Sanders remains listed as an official write-in candidate on the ballot and election officials in L.A. say Sanders can still be written in and his votes will count.

Green Party

A look at some of the third-party candidates seem to bolster Johnson’s position regarding Blacks.

In the days leading up to the third debate, Charissa Threat, an assistant professor of history at Spelman College, spent days discussing with her students some of the pros and cons of the third-party candidates. From those discussions, Threat realized that a number of her students seemed quite attracted to Green Party ideas such as the belief that everyone who wants a job should be able to find one in a government run by the Greens. At the party’s national convention, delegates selected Jill Stein, a medical doctor, as the presidential candidate and African American activist, Ajamu Baraka, as her running mate.

Convention delegates also voted to confirm the party’s new national platform

Stein, a mother, organizer, and pioneering environmental-health advocate, also seems more aligned to students’ interest in concerns such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to her involvement in national presidential politics, Stein was elected to the Town Meeting Seat, Precinct 2 in Lexington, Mass., in March 2005. She finished first of 16 candidates running for seven seats, receiving 539 votes (20.6 percent), according to Wikipedia. She was re-elected in 2008, finishing second of 13 vying for eight seats.

By the 2010 census, the population of Lexington had reached 31,394 and the racial makeup of the town was 75.5 percent White, 19.9 percent Asian (8.6 percent Chinese, 4.8 percent Asian Indian, 3.2 percent Korean), Hispanic or Latino 2.3 percent of the population, 2.6 percent multi-racial, 1.5 percent Black or African American and 0.1 percent from other races.

A human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles.

Baraka was the founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN) from July 2004 until June 2011. The USHRN was the first domestic human rights formation in the United States explicitly committed to the application of international human rights standards in the U.S.

Outspoken, Baraka not too long ago created controversy, when he called President Barack Obama “an Uncle Tom” during an August CNN Green Party town hall. And rather than apologize for her partner’s comment, Dr. Stein suggested reporters talk directly to Baraka about his comments.

Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party, with its initial emphasis on less government including the legalization of marijuana, and fiscal conservatism initially sounded attractive to younger voters. But according to professor Threat, selecting this direction could actually hurt older citizens and the working class students discovered as they drilled down and studied the respective parties.

Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico who is running for president on the Libertarian ticket along with his running mate former Republican Massachusetts governor William Weld, who represent the most politically experienced complete team in the race. They want to get the government out of your life and back to protecting your freedoms rather than restricting them, says their website.

Johnson, who prefers to call himself an entrepreneur rather than a politician, has always believed that good public policy should be based on a practical cost/benefit analysis rather than on strict ideology.

Best known for resisting the temptation to solve every problem with government spending and regulations, Johnson cut taxes 14 times and never raised them during his two terms as governor. He balanced New Mexico’s budget office with a billion-dollar surplus.

While cutting taxes and the size of the state’s government Johnson, according to his website improved schools, executed a major infrastructure overhaul and earned national accolades for how he handled the devastating Cerro Grande fire that swept across the state in 2000.

Weld was elected governor with 51 percent of the vote in 1990 and re-elected in 1994 with a record-breaking 71 percent of the vote.

Like Johnson, he was elected governor in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, and prides himself on having the capability to serve all the people of his state, not just voters from his then-political party.

While he was in office, Weld cut taxes 21 times and did not allow any tax increases. A 1994 report from the Cato Institute, concluded that Weld’s administration: “cut spending, balanced the state budget, improved the state’s bond rating” and did so without compromising education and other important state functions.

Weld does not believe that a government that looks to constituent’s pocket books to solve every problem is a healthy way to conduct public policy.

Among the programs he championed were ones that helped welfare recipients get jobs to reduce their long-term reliance on government assistance, improve their self-reliance and self-esteem.

A believer in social tolerance, Weld supports marriage equality as a constitutional right, and is an outspoken defender of a woman’s right to chose.

While in office in New Mexico, Johnson created and provided minimal funding to the state Office of African American Affairs. The office began with two and a half staff members including a director who drove his Toyota all over the state introducing his office to the widely dispersed Black population.

When the House Bill to institute the office was originally introduced, the governor vetoed it, according to Rep. Stapleton (who supported the bill), during the first African American Day at the Legislature. Alice Faye Hoppes, then president of the NAACP, who co-organized this day, shared with lawmakers, “Only by illuminating the history of African Americans can we eradicate the myths and distortions responsible for problems in communications that still exist.”

Peace and Freedom

The Peace and Freedom Party (PFP) actively supports the struggle to eliminate oppression and discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation. The struggle against sexism and the struggle for democratic and nonviolent human relations cannot be delayed but must be pursued actively at the same time as the struggle to eliminate oppression and discrimination based on class, race or nationality, age, or physical disability.

Instead of disappearing between elections like Republicans and Democrats, the PFP stays active in the community fighting political repression and corruption and fighting against redevelopment plans which would push low-income people out of their communities, and organizing tenant unions to obtain justice for renters.

The PFP has been a leading force fighting against rip-off schemes by big business. Other local PFP activities have included countless labor union strikes and boycotts, working against nuclear power plants, nuclear tests, and militarism, and in favor of gay and lesbian rights and the rights of immigrant workers. The party has an active role in the defense of abortion clinics from terrorists. It also participated in demonstrations for peace, jobs, justice and equality. Not only do PFP activists agitate against the status quo, they work “within the system,” testifying on legislation and serving on commissions. The PFP organized two serious statewide initiative campaigns: in 1968, to lower the voting age to 18; and in 1972, to repeal the capital gains tax loophole. Lawsuits taken to the U.S. Supreme Court by the PFP have eliminated filing fee laws in 29 states which had kept poor people from running for public office. The party cares more about the next generation than the next election.

In 1994 and 1998, Gloria La Riva was Peace and Freedom Party’s candidate for governor of California. She was also president of the Typographical Sector, Media Workers Union, Local 39521, CWA. In 2008, La Riva became the presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She was also a key organizer of mass demonstrations opposing the Iraq wars. In 1998, she produced the award-winning video, “Genocide by Sanctions.”

Dennis Banks (born April 12, 1932), is a leader, teacher, lecturer, activist and author. As an Anishinaabe native born on Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, Banks was selected at La Riva’s running mate in August 2016.

Banks is a legendary activist who in 1968, co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM).

When it comes to presidential elections, Spelman’s Threat says that it takes more than getting enough votes. The history professor talks about the concept of “mandate.”

Elections, especially ones with a large margin of victory, are often said to give the newly elected government or elected official an implicit “mandate” to put into effect certain policies.

An almost intransigently polarized electorate that is angry and seemingly unwilling to compromise gives the eventual winner of the election about 100 days to get anything substantive done, speculate Johnson and Threat.

That person has to be Hillary Clinton, said Johnson thanks to the experience he speculates will enable the former New York Senator and Secretary of State to jump into the fray from the beginning and get things accomplished quickly.

Clinton is “not the perfect choice,” admits Johnson, but her experience gives her the edge he thinks is needed to get anything done amidst a polarized degree-less voting population and an angry White working class electorate.

President Barack Obama has also been critical in getting the Justice Department to become cognizant of the killings that have happened to Blacks from police departments. The changes are not wholesale, but incremental changes that have in part been generated by the protest in the streets, Johnson believes.

In talking with his students at Morehouse, Johnson found that Blacks are much more optimistic than Whites about the future, because he said African Americans typically take the longer view.

The Peace and Freedom Party is governed by its State Central Committee (SCC) and local County Central Committees. Peace and Freedom Party central committees are elected in the direct primary election, with any Peace and Freedom registrant eligible to run. You may be appointed to your CCC and/or SCC by a vote of the members, even if you are under 18 years old or if you are a non-citizen or ineligible to vote. The biannual state convention adopts the PFP platform.

Other third-party candidates

These candidates have qualified to run on the ballot in all 50 states + DC—Libertarian Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

These parties have qualified on the ballot in 40+ states and DC—Green Party: Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka;

The Constitutional Party of the U.S.: Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley.

These candidates have qualified on less than 20 state ballots: Independent (No Party): Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn.

Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL): Gloria LaRiva and Eugene Puryear.

Reform Party USA: “Rocky” Rooque De La Fuente and Michael Steinberg.

Socialist Party USA: Emidio “Mimi” and Angela Walker.

Socialist Workers Party (SWP): Alyson Kennedy with Osborne Heart as vice president.