Third Party – An Alternative Vote

Alex Kane Oct 24, 2008

When New York voters step into the booth Nov. 4 to cast their ballots, there will be five presidential candidates to choose from who are not from the Democratic or Republican tickets. Each campaign, when compared to Barack Obama and John McCain, offers radically different visions for the future of the United States.


Ralph Nader is a four-time presidential candidate who has built his career advocating consumer rights and railing against undue corporate influence on Washington politics. His running mate, Matt Gonzalez, is a civil rights lawyer and former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who was instrumental in changing election laws and raising the minimum wage in San Francisco. According to campaign spokesperson Toby Heaps, the Nader campaign is pushing for a “tectonic shift” in the U.S. democratic landscape. “What [Nader] is trying to do is to bring power back to all people in the land from a small number of private commercial interests that now carry disproportionate power and control over people’s lives,” Heaps says. The Nader/Gonzalez ticket is on the ballot nationwide in 45 states, according to their campaign.

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Róger Calero, a Nicaraguan-born Bronx resident, is a two-time presidential candidate on the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) ticket. According to his campaign director Dan Fein, current law dictates that Calero is eligible to run for president, but not serve as president, due to his being born out of the country. Fein says that if Calero were to get enough votes for the presidency, there would be enough support to change current law so that he could serve. Calero is a workers’ rights activist and staff writer for the SWP weekly, The Militant, and his running mate Alyson Kennedy is a veteran civil rights activist and union organizer. Billing themselves as the “working-class alternative in the 2008 elections,” their platform is focused on bringing socialism to the United States. Fein says the SWP is on the ballot in 10 states.

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Gloria La Riva was a two-time gubernatorial candidate in California on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, is active in many social justice struggles in the United States and is the coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Eugene Puryear, the vice presidential candidate, is a volunteer organizer for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER ) and was also involved in the campaign to free the Jena 6. The PSL is bringing their revolutionary Marxist message and rallying cry of “people over profits” to 12 states this presidential election. “There is tremendous opportunity to revive a socialist movement in this country, to explicitly say that there is another road, an alternative besides the endless war and economic calamities that are a result of the capitalist system,” says Ben Becker, an organizer with the campaign in New York City.

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Bob Barr is a former Republican Congressional representative for Georgia. Barr captured the nomination of the Libertarian Party at their convention in May. While in Congress, Barr was an avid supporter of the “war on drugs,” and voted for both the USA Patriot Act and the Iraq War Resolution. He has since recanted on all of these positions. Barr’s running mate is Wayne Root, a businessman, author and television producer. The Barr/Root ticket is calling for a dramatic shift to smaller government and a “free market” economic system. They advocate cutting spending on welfare, reducing taxes and having a “consumer-oriented” healthcare system. The Libertarian Party website says the campaign is on the ballot in 45 states.

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Cynthia McKinney was the first African- American congresswoman elected from Georgia. McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente, former South Bronx resident and hip-hop activist, won the nomination at the Green Party convention in July. They are making history as the first all women-of-color presidential ticket for the Green Party. McKinney has a track record of pushing important progressive issues into the spotlight, from calling for the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq to demanding comprehensive Hurricane Katrina victim assistance. She introduced a measure in Congress for the impeachment of George W. Bush in late 2006. She advocates kick-starting a movement to “create an opposition party for this country, because right now, this country doesn’t have one. The Green Party is that opposition party,” McKinney told the Indypendent in an interview during the Democratic National Convention. The Green Party ticket is on the ballot in 32 states, according to

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