“What About Option C?”: An Analysis of the 2016 3rd Party Presidential Candidates

Author: Alli Jean, Current Events/Politics

With nine weeks until Election Day, Trump leads Clinton 45% to 43% in the latest poll. Libertarian Gary Johnson comes in at 7% and Jill Stein of the Green Party polls at just 2%. Many voters are curious about the views of the two third party candidates, and are wondering why we find ourselves limited to two options for the next president, and what impact Jill Stein and Gary Johnson could still have on this race.

Since 1860, third party candidates have run in some two dozen presidential elections; just nine of them topped 5% of the popular vote. Recent attempts – including Ralph Nader in 2000 and Ross Perot in 1996 and 1992 – failed to win a single electoral vote.

Third party candidates are often viewed as siphoning votes from one party and therefore helping the other win, which contributes to their failed candidacies and earns them the reputation as “spoilers” for the majority party candidates.

So, who are the third party candidates accused of being spoilers in this election cycle?


Gary Johnson’s record includes vetoing more than 750 bills during his time as governor. He cut taxes 14 times while never raising them, balanced the state’s budget and gifted New Mexico a billion-dollar surplus. He executed a major infrastructure overhaul, improved New Mexico schools and earned national accolades for his leadership in handling the devastating Cerro Grande Fire that swept across the state in 2000.

On the issues:

  • Environment
    • Believes that the proper role of government is to enforce reasonable environmental protection.
    • Indicates that a healthy economy should allow the market to function unimpeded.
    • Consumers and innovators will do more to bring about environmental protection and restoration than government regulations driven by special interests.
  • Foreign Policy and National Defense
    • Vows to cut off the funding that violent extremist armies depend on.
    • Will repair relationships with our allies.
    • Only send our brave soldiers to war when clearly authorized by Congress after meaningful, transparent deliberation and debate.
  • Taxes
    • Advocates for getting rid of the double-taxation on small businesses, and ultimately, the replacement of all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax that determines your tax burden by how much you spend, not how much you earn.
    • Looks to stop special interest loopholes.
  • Immigration
    • Focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas and conducting background checks.
    • Will incentivize non-citizens to pay their taxes and obtain proof of employment.
    • Believes in practical reform. No walls.
  • Education
    • Wants to eliminate the Federal Department of Education, Common Core and other attempts to impose national requirements on local schools that are costly, overly bureaucratic and compromise our ability to provide our children with a good education.
    • Hopes to keep resources close to Home, innovate and educate our future generations.


Jill Stein has helped lead initiatives to fight environmental racism and injustice, to promote healthy communities, to strengthen local green economies and to revitalize democracy. Stein became an advocate for campaign finance reform and worked to help pass the Clean Election Law by voter referendum. This law was passed by a 2-1 margin, but was later repealed by the overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts Legislature on an unrecorded voice vote.

This sabotage of campaign finance reform by the Democratic Party was a pivotal event in Stein’s political development, confirming her growing allegiance to the Green Party.

On the issues:

  • Economy
    • Looks to set a $15/hour federal minimum wage and break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and democratize the Federal Reserve
    • Rejects gentrification as a model of economic development. Supports development of worker and community cooperatives and small businesses.
    • Hopes to make Wall Street, big corporations and the rich pay their fair share of taxes.
    • Wants to create democratically run public banks and utilities.
    • Will replace corporate trade agreements with fair trade agreements.
  • Peace and Human Rights
    • Looks to end the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire.
    • Will stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and will lead on global nuclear disarmament.
  • Education
    • Looks to abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.
    • Guarantees tuition-free, world-class public education from preschool through university.
    • Will end high stakes testing and public school privatization.
  • Environment
    • Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change.
    • Will end destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, etc.
    • Looks to protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks and pollinators.
    • Will label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.
  • Racial Justice
    • Hopes to end police brutality and mass incarceration.
    • Will create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to understand and eliminate the legacy of slavery that lives on as pervasive racism.
    • Ensures that communities control police rather than police controlling communities – by establishing police review boards and full-time investigators to look into all cases of death in police custody.

To date, neither third party candidate has reached the required 15% voter support threshold set by the Commission on Presidential Debates. If they don’t each reach it by the first debate three weeks from now, they will be barred from participating in the debates – and the audience their campaigns desperately needs to reach.

With nine weeks to go and Hillary and Trump tied, what is the harm, really, of giving Stein and Johnson a fair shot at participating in the debates, appearing on the ballots in every state and receiving equivocal media coverage? In an election filled with unexpected twists and turns, how can more sane, rational ideas possibly complicate this race?


Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

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