Third Party’s the Charm?

Evan Farley, ‘20

It is in the unwritten constitution that America has a bipartisan political system. Since the founding of the Republican party in 1854, American presidents have been either Democratic or Republican, without exception. Could that change in 2016? Probably not, but there has been a rise in interest in third parties.

As of October 13, 2016, according to a collective average of seven independent polls, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president, was at 6.6 percent and Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, was at 2.3 percent. These polls might seem like low numbers, but compared to the 2012 general election, in which Johnson and Stein were both running, the polls have risen significantly. In a 2012 NBC poll, Johnson was at 3 percent, and Stein at 2 percent. Although the polls have only increased by a few percentage points, that means thousands of Americans have a new interest in third party candidates. For the first time in 20 years, Johnson’s ticket will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and the District of Columbia, and Stein will be on the ballot in 45 states, including the District of Columbia, according to abcnews.go.com. So what do these candidates stand for, especially Johnson, because of his significant lead over Stein?

Johnson wants to minimize the the government, and to do this, he plans to end or privatize all social and economic welfare, according to the Libertarian website. This includes the 43 million people on food stamps, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, and the 4.8 million households who live with housing assistance such as subsidized rent, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. With all the money saved from the lack of welfare programs, Johnson would lower taxes to a flat rate of 23%.

Flat taxes are not fair, however, and would widen the inequality gap. The poverty line for a family with two parents and two kids, according to the Institute for Research on Poverty, is $23,283, so if your family was making $24,000, just above the poverty line, but not by much, and you were taxed 23%, you would have $18,480 to survive annually. Without food stamps or welfare, it becomes even harder to live. Compare this to someone who makes $1,000,000 a year, with the same tax rate of 23%. They would have $770,000 to live on, which is a lot easier to live on than $18,480. So maybe a flat tax makes sense if you look only at the numbers, because someone who earns more should keep more money and live fancier, but higher taxes on the wealthy do not prevent extravagant living that: If there was a tax rate of 50%, the million dollar earner, would still have a lot more money than the $24,000 earner who is paying 23%. In fact, if the millionaire payed 98% taxes, then he still would have more money than the poorer person who is paying 23%. So enough with numbers: Gary Johnson needs to think about the people he would be leading if he was in the White House.

If his tax plan, and domestic policy in general, is not so great, what would be good in a Johnson administration? Not his foreign policy. Twice in recent weeks, Johnson had major foreign policy gaffes. The first misstep occurred when Johnson could not name the Syrian city of Aleppo, which is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, with the U.S. and Russia fighting (kind of) diplomatically for a peaceful resolution to the occupation of the opposition on the east, and the government on the west. Anybody with access to the New York Times, or the internet should know about Aleppo. Perhaps it’s different if you are running for president. A few weeks later, Johnson could not name one foreign leader he respected, not even Justin Trudeau, our good looking neighbor to the north, or Juan Manuel Santos, the peaceful president of Columbia.

So his domestic policy is unfair, and his knowledge of foreign affairs is limited. What is he good for, one might ask? One of his more widely accepted proposals is to decriminalize marijuana. Maybe we will be able to forget all of our problems with a Johnson administration.

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Green party nominee, Jill Stein. Photo Credit: The Fisical Times.
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Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson. Photo credit: The Fiscal Times.

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