With the presidential election less than a week away and the aftermath of the three presidential debates, the world knows of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. However, there are two other candidates running for president: Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson.
Stein is the Green Party’s presidential nominee and Johnson is the Libertarian Party’s nominee. Both candidates ran for president in 2012 under their respective parties. Stein received around 400,000 votes while Johnson received around 1.3 million votes.
According to Stein’s website, her plan, called Power to the People, aims to create “deep system change, moving from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered economy that puts people, planet and peace over profit.” She wants to end police brutality and demilitarize the police, expand women’s and LGBTQ rights, protect the earth from climate change, increase minimum wage to $15/hour and create new jobs to end unemployment. Stein’s platform is similar to Bernie Sanders’, but really focuses on establishing Green Deals to protect and replenish the earth.
Johnson’s website calls him a “breath of fresh air.” Libertarians are known to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal, so Johnson’s stance on policies reflect this definition. He wants to change the tax code, create new jobs, protect personal rights and freedoms and make immigration safer and more advantageous to those entering the country for the first time.
Though both candidates seem similar, they have vastly different opinions on certain topics. Johnson is more conservative when compared to Stein on domestic issues such as expanding Obamacare and legalizing marijuana. He also advocates for gun rights and doesn’t think making voter registration easier is a good idea. Stein wants higher taxes for the wealthy and Johnson doesn’t, and Johnson wants to expand free trade while Stein doesn’t.
In terms of experience, Johnson was the governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. Stein had not won an election for Massachusetts governor when she ran in 2002 and 2010. The only election she won was the Lexington Town Representative position, which she served in 2005 and was reelected in 2008.
Both Stein and Johnson have also been heckled by the media and citizens for some of the things they’ve said. Stein, as a physician and Harvard Medical School graduate, has made some interesting statements regarding the link between vaccinations and autism. She stated that people have concerns on whether or not vaccines are linked to causing autism, taking her a while to give a clear answer on whether or not she was anti-vaccination. Just to be clear, she is not against vaccines.
Johnson was thrown under the bus for not knowing basic information about other countries and leaders. When asked about the Syrian city, Aleppo, that’s facing horrific damage due to the civil war, Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo?” When asked in another interview about which foreign leader he looks up to, Johnson said, “I guess I’m having another Aleppo moment,” joking to disguise the fact that he couldn’t think of a single foreign leader when asked to do so during that interview.
However different they are, both candidates agree that the two-party system of the United States just doesn’t cut it. They want to expand this system and allow third-party candidates to gain recognition. They weren’t allowed to debate with Clinton and Trump because debate rules say that candidates need to hit 15 percent at national polls to participate. Currently, Johnson and Stein are under 10 percent. Furthermore, Clinton, Johnson and Trump are on 50 states’ ballots, Stein on only 45.
Critics of the third-party argument state that there is no space for a third party within American politics. Both major parties can and have taken in and adopted ideas of third-party candidates. Just look at what Clinton did with some of Sanders’ ideas. Furthermore, avid Clinton supporters argue that a vote for either Johnson or Stein is a vote for Trump. There are 270 votes needed to win the presidency. If, in some states, previous Sanders supporters cast their vote for Johnson or Stein, that could easily take away votes from Clinton and allow Trump to win that particular state.
Whether or not you agree with the current system, it’s important that you go out and vote so that your voice is heard, just like these third-party candidates are making themselves known.