Surely some who endured the presidential debate Tuesday must be asking themselves this question: Is there another choice?
For Arkansas voters, the answer is yes. Actually, there are 11.
The most credible third party candidate is Dr. Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian. Jorgensen is a Clemson University psychology professor and was the party’s candidate for vice president in 1996. She made an August campaign stop in Little Rock where she gave a good speech and was impressive in an interview.
Libertarians favor extremely limited government, which some Americans might like in theory until they saw it would mean ending popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare. On the other hand, their taxes certainly would be lower.
The Libertarians are the most viable third party, and there’s even a Libertarian congressman, Rep. Justin Amash, L-Michigan, who was elected as a Republican but switched parties. But the party has a long way to go before it’s really competitive. Jorgensen can’t win, but if she can get 3% of the vote in Arkansas, the Libertarians would qualify for the ballot in 2022 without having to spend precious resources collecting signatures.
Kanye West is the only non-major party candidate most voters have heard of. The rapper, who is running as an independent, has a history of attention-getting behavior. His wife said this year he has bipolar disorder. He announced last year he had converted to Christianity, and his platform does list some socially conservative positions. However, he also said in a campaign speech that marijuana should be free. He previously was a supporter of President Trump. He says he’s not now, but he is appearing on several states’ ballots with help from Republicans. They apparently hope he will siphon African American votes from Joe Biden.
Howie Hawkins represents the Green Party. Hawkins is a retired UPS union employee who has described himself as a socialist. The Greens are known for their liberal policies, particularly regarding the environment and creating a nationalized health insurance system. In elections past, they’ve taken votes from Democrats and may have cost Al Gore the election in 2000. But as Democrats have veered left on those issues, the Greens may not even have their own lane anymore.
Don Blankenship represents the Constitution Party, which is more conservative than the Republican Party and supports limited government while being pro-life and anti-gay rights. Blankenship is a former coal company chief executive who spent a year in prison after an explosion at his company’s mine killed 29 people.
Let’s run through the other candidates.
– Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente is a businessman running as an independent. He is affiliated with the Reform Party and with The Alliance Party, which seeks political reforms, a single payer health system and a low-carbon economy.
– John Richard Myers represents the Life and Liberty Party, which takes a lot of Libertarian positions but is pro-life.
– Brian Carroll represents the American Solidarity Party. It takes liberal positions on health care and the environment but is also pro-life.
– Gloria La Riva represents the Socialist and Liberation Party, which seeks to replace the capitalist system with a socialist one that guarantees all essentials of life as human rights.
– Brock Pierce is running as an independent. He’s a former child actor who appeared in "The Mighty Ducks" before become a technology entrepreneur. His issues include criminal justice reform, sustainability and wellness.
– Phil Collins is listed on the ballot as an independent but is affiliated with the Prohibition Party. Yes, it’s still around. Its website says it’s interested in "problems which directly impact the home." The website says, "If you are a reform-minded conservative and a non-drinker, the Prohibition party wants you!"
– C.L. Gammon is listed as an independent but also is affiliated with the Prohibition Party. The party says he fell ill and was replaced by Collins, but he still is appearing on Arkansas’ ballot. Collins is listed as his vice presidential candidate.
Those are your other choices this year, such as they are. The American political system makes it very difficult to mount a credible third party or independent campaign unless you’re a billionaire, which is why it needs major reforms.
But reforms can take a while, and voting has already started. You can choose the two we saw Tuesday night, or one of these other 11. See anybody you like, or at least could vote for?
Steve Brawner is a syndicated columnist in Arkansas. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevebrawner.