With only nine percent of Americans having chosen either of the two major party candidates in the primaries, voters are feeling more estranged than ever in the general election and are turning to third party candidates. Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, is running with Bill Weld as the Libertarian candidate. On the Green Party ticket, Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts, is running with Ajamu Baraka.
Johnson is polling around 10 percent in polls, while Stein is at four percent. The Commission on Presidential Debates has a policy that in order to participate in the upcoming debates, each candidate must be polling at a minimum of 15 percent. However, until recently, mainstream media has provided minimal coverage of the third parties, which makes the third parties’ polling even more remarkable. With the first major debate coming on Sept. 26, there is an ongoing fight for the third party candidates to get their voices heard.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, is the former governor of New Mexico and is polling around 11 percent. Running alongside VP candidate Bill Weld, the duo of former governors are campaigning on their experiences as former governors, and claim to have been able to make Democrats and Republicans work together more smoothly. The Libertarian philosophy that the party runs on is that the government should stay out of your life as much as possible. Liberty, the power or scope to act as one pleases as long as it does not put another in harm’s way, as top priority. To put this in context with today’s politics, Libertarians tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, is a Harvard trained physician who has been an environmental activist for many years. Running alongside VP candidate Amaju Baraka, the party prioritizes the environment, and values taking whatever steps are necessary to preserve the Earth. Jill Stein is also pushing for student debt forgiveness, proposing solutions similar to those of Bernie Sanders. Additionally, the Green Party candidate has a proposal for a “Green New Deal,” focused on aiding both the student debt/financial crises and the environment.
This year’s third party candidates are more remarkable than ever before, not only because around 60 percent of Americans feel estranged from this year’s election according to some polls, but also because of the amount of success these candidates are receiving despite minimal amounts of media coverage. For example, most people have seen Johnson on TV for his infamous MSNBC “What is Aleppo?” blunder, yet he currently still polls at 11 percent. One can make the argument that this is an insignificant amount of support, but it’s important to keep in mind that Trump and Clinton, the two nominees who are getting more media coverage than arguably anyone in the world, are polling around 40 percent, which is only four times more than Johnson. If the third party candidates- who have gained little recognition and still maintain a large amount of support- were included in the debates, no one could predict what would happen next.