Ain’t No Party Like a Third and Fourth Party: the Two Minor Party Nominees

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are the nominees for the Green party and the Libertarian party, respectively.  Both candidates have similar views when it comes to personal rights, however, differ in their approaches to the environment and economy.

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are the nominees for the Green party and the Libertarian party, respectively. Both candidates have similar views when it comes to personal rights, however, differ in their approaches to the environment and economy.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are making headlines as the major party leaders for the 2016 presidential election. However, there are two additional nominees – Jill Stein of the green party, and Gary Johnson of the libertarian party – that are running alongside Clinton and Trump.

Historically, the Green Party is a United States left-wing group. The party, which was founded in 2001, prioritizes environmental and social justice issues such as anti-racism, LGBTQ+ equality, and feminism. The Libertarian Party, which gained formal recognition  in 1971, promotes individual rights and liberty, and minimization of government interference. The party also considers capitalism to be an important factor in society, and believes that government should play a minimal role in business.

Jill Stein: Jill Stein spent most of her career as a physician, with a medical degree from Harvard. When she realized the links between environmental harm and disease, Stein began to get involved in politics as she pushed for a more eco friendly society. According to Stein’s website, she is strongly in favor of green energy, regulating a living wage, and creating a universal healthcare plan for the United States. Stein has a plan to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030, and would like to help eliminate student debt. Additionally, Stein is strongly in favor of human rights. She has gained support over her liberal stances on key social justice issues, such as ending mass incarceration and police brutality, and stands for increased rights for women, racial minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Though Stein was the 2012 green party nominee for president and ran for governor of Massachusetts against Mitt Romney in 2002, she has lost nearly every elected office she has run for, with the exception of a Town Hall meeting in Lexington, Massachusetts. Despite her minimal experience in elected politics, Stein has served leadership positions on the boards of non-profits, including co-founder of the Massachusetts Committee for Healthy Communities. Some opponents say that Stein’s lack of experience makes her unqualified to serve. Tessa Stewart from Rolling stone cites several times that Stein has changed her views in a recent column, including a quickly deleted Facebook post that took a different stance on the results of Britain’s recent referendum than the Green Party.

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are the nominees for the Green party and the Libertarian party, respectively. Both candidates have similar views when it comes to personal rights, however, differ in their approaches to the environment and economy.
Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are the nominees for the Green party and the Libertarian party, respectively. Both candidates have similar views when it comes to personal rights, however, differ in their approaches to the environment and economy.

Gary Johnson: Johnson values freedom of individuals without government intervention. With that comes his support of abortion, legalizing marijuana, and gay rights. One of Johnson’s key campaign platforms is to eliminate wasteful spending – Johnson claims to have cut thousands of budget line items when he was governor of New Mexico. Johnson also advocates refining tax code, with a focus on eliminating loopholes for large corporations and easing the burden of taxes on small businesses.  According to his website, Johnson proposes term limits for all politicians. He claims that many politicians are discouraged from standing up for issues they supports that might deviate from their party’s norm, because doing so might keep them from getting reelected. Johnson believes that term limits would allow politicians to do what they think is best, even if it goes against their party’s beliefs. Johnson ran for president of the libertarian party in 2012, and received about 1% of the vote.

Criticism of Johnson mainly comes from both the left-wing and right wing. Many critique his gun policy as incredibly lax – in a 2011 interview with Slate, Johnson stated that he “doesn’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.” Though he has revisited his stance for the 2016 election, now saying restrictions should only exist for criminals and mentally ill, many still believe he does not have a tough enough policy to solve many problems the United States faces with gun violence. Many fiscal conservatives criticize Johnson’s spending record, as New Mexico gathered almost three billion dollars in debt while he served as governor.
As many columnists have pointed out, it is highly unlikely that either candidate will make it to the white house. Both minor party candidates are polling at under 10% – Johnson is currently averaging 7% of votes, while Stein has about 3%. However, in a year with two candidates many voters struggle to get behind, this leaves Stein and Johnson in a somewhat unique position. If enough voters – specifically, more than 5% – vote for Stein and Johnson in the general election, federal funding will be secured for their respective parties in the 2020 election. Even though it is unlikely that either will be elected, many who people feel locked into the two party system typically had by the United States might look to Jill Stein and Gary Johnson as a third and fourth option.