Aside from Donald and Hillary, here’s who’s appearing on the ballot in Minnesota:
Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley (Constitution Party)
Dan R. Vacek and Mark Elworth, Jr. (Legal Marijuana Now)
Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart (Socialist Workers Party)
Jill Stein and Howie Hawkins (Green Party)
“Rocky” Roque De La Fuente and Michael Steinberg (American Delta Party)
Evan McMullin and Nathan Johnson (Independence)
Gary Johnson and William Weld (Libertarian Party)
I’m just going to go down this list in order and tell you who these people are and what they stand for, with particular attention to whether they’d be a plausible candidate for you if you’re a Republican who won’t vote for Trump and can’t bring yourself to vote for Clinton.
Darrell is great uncle you don’t want to get stuck sitting next to at family events: extremely conservative plus he won’t shut up about it (he has a long-running podcast and a bunch of his positions are on his website in audio form and a two-minute sample persuaded me that if I was going to have to sit next to him at a long meal I would fake an illness and go home.
Among his beliefs: we should completely eliminate the Federal Reserve and go back to private money (and presumably a system where if your bank goes under, you lose your life savings. Pick carefully, folks.) Oh, also, he wants the money backed by gold — not sure how that fits with the fact that he’s down with Bitcoin. We should leave the U.N. We should completely end all immigration (“until we can vet immigrants properly and our borders are under control”). He wants to convince congress to “take away the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction” over abortion.
He has never held elected office. He served in the military, he worked as a lawyer, and he has held positions within his party.
What a vote for Darrell Castle says: I like Trump’s isolationism and complete lack of political experience, but he needs way more crazy positions to win my vote. (Alternately: “I am a single-issue voter and that issue is abortion.” Trump’s pro-life position is clearly 100% expedience and not based in any sort of conviction. Do you think if he knocked up a woman who wasn’t Melania tomorrow, he’d say, “keep the baby, sweetheart, the child support will never be late”? No way in hell.)
Dan Vacek is one of my Facebook friends, although I don’t ever remember meeting him. His party’s platform consists of the following: legalize homegrown cannabis; erase past marijuana convictions; ban employment drug testing. They’re on the ballot in Minnesota and Iowa. Dan Vacek has never held elected office.
What a vote for Dan Vacek says: YAY WEED.
The SWP website is the most hilariously old-school use of technology I’ve ever seen. “Below are campaign materials that you can download and give to your co-workers and friends,” they say, and provide you with pages that link to PDFs that, yes, you can download and print. They’re genuinely a pain in the ass to read online, though, especially if you’re on a phone. Also, they make it basically impossible to copy and paste any of the text.
It’s old-school text, too. SOLIDARITY WITH THE WORKING PEOPLE OF SYRIA! I bought and read a paper copy of the Militant once in 1980s and the only thing that’s changed are the country names.
Alyson also says in one of the pamphlets that there is no growing ultrarightist or fascist movement today because the bosses don’t need one. This made me wonder if the Socialist Worker Party has any Twitter presence at all. The British SWP does have one, with a whole 160 followers (I am not kidding) and also a blog, which is a vastly better online presence than the SWP of the U.S. has. So no wonder they’ve missed the growing ultrarightist fascist movement, I guess.
In addition to not being on Twitter, they’re not on Facebook. I didn’t even bother to check Tumblr. The funniest: if you want to donate or volunteer, you have to PRINT OUT A PAPER CARD which you then fill out and send in. Comrades: join us in the current century. You have nothing to lose but your stamps.
What a vote for Alyson Kennedy says: I am so old-school that when I hear “red states,” I assume they are talking about the USSR.
I really loathe Jill, honestly. I loathe her for her bullshit statements about how Hillary would be worse for the country than Donald, a guy who’s said that global warming is a conspiracy made up by the Chinese. I loathe her for her bullshit pandering to vaccine conspiracy theorists. I loathe her for giving interviews to fucking Infowars. (Infowars has been front-and-center in pushing the idea that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. If you haven’t read this utterly gutwrenching article about the harm done by this conspiracy theory, it’s a compelling read.)
Unlike the other obscure candidates mentioned so far, she’s held some sort of elected office: she was a “Town Meeting Representative,” I’m guessing that’s basically a City Council rep, in Lexington, Massachusetts, some years back.
What a vote for Jill Stein says: There is a Green Party that exists in my head that is far, far more awesome than the Democrats or the Republicans, and also far more awesome than the actual real-world Jill Stein.
So Rocky has a party printed on the ballot but the American Delta Party has no website and no platform. Since the two most common brands of toilets are the Delta and the American Standard, I kind of suspect he named his “party” after toilets.
Rocky is the sort of candidate who whines incessantly about how no one’s paying attention to him, but who when he tried to run in the primaries, did not get in contact with anyone from his local Democratic party. Nonetheless, he has enough money and is sufficiently litigious to get onto a lot of ballots nationwide, and in fact the front page of his website starts with a map of where he’s on the ballot, with little notes like “pending litigation.”
His website is full of stock art and his platform is all in the form of “what if…” questions. None of the stock art is of Morpheus, which seems like a missed opportunity.
What a vote for Rocky de la Fuente says: I wanted to write in Mickey Mouse, but it was easier to color in a single dot than to actually write “Mickey Mouse” on the line where you write people in.
Evan McMullin is the third-party candidate who is most likely to win any electoral votes; he may win Utah’s. Also, he’s on the Minnesota ballot under the Independence Party (i.e., the Jessecrats) but in other states he’s running without party affiliation. He’s actually a Republican, from the relatively-normal wing of the Republican Party, i.e., I disagree with most of his stances but view him as roughly equivalent to someone like McCain or Romney. (And some of his stances are fine; his stance on Law Enforcement is anti-stop-and-frisk, pro-body-camera, and he favors sentencing reform to reduce or eliminate prison sentences for nonviolent offenders.)
He is not on the ballot in every state but he is on the ballot in Minnesota. He has not held elected office, but he has significant relevant experience: he worked for the CIA in counterterrorism, was a senior advisor to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and was the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.
What a vote for Evan McMullin says: All I wanted was a normal Republican. Any of those other guys would have been fine. (Of all the potential message votes, this one is definitely going to be the clearest.)
Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is the second-most-qualified person in the race, after Hillary Clinton. The Libertarian Party platform stakes out some genuinely extreme positions: they oppose all restrictions on firearm ownership and sales (so, no restrictions on ownership for convicted felons); their environmental position appears to boil down to, “you should absolutely be allowed to strip-mine your own backyard, if you want”; on financial markets they say, “Those who enjoy the possibility of profits must not impose risks of losses upon others, such as through government guarantees or bailouts” — so that’s opposition to the FDIC, which guarantees that if your bank goes belly-up your savings are safe; they oppose all minimum wage laws and I’d say also regulations on things like overtime, breaks, and possibly workplace safety; they want to eliminate the entire Social Security system; and they honestly do want open borders, restricting only people who would pose a threat.
All that said, it’s not clear how much of these positions Gary holds. He was a Republican until 2011. Apparently he got booed a lot at the Libertarian nominating convention. His website provides a more moderate and appealing spin on a bunch of these, although his Environmental policies page does have the reassuring framing, “Is the climate changing? Probably so. Is man contributing to that change? Probably so. But the critical question is whether the politicians’ efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the private sector are cost-effective.”
Gary’s the only third-party candidate who’s on the ballot in every state, so he’s definitely attracting some of the #NeverTrump Republicans. With Evan McMullin, the “I just wanted a normal Republican!” message is very clear; it’s less so with Gary, because the Libertarian platform and his solid social liberalism put him way out of step with a lot of Republicans.
What a vote for Gary says: there are several possibilities, and if Gary gets a sizeable portion of the vote, especially if he costs Trump the race in some states, you can expect a lot of analysis of exactly what the voters were saying:
- I just wanted a normal Republican! (And I didn’t know about Evan McMullin / I’m in a state in which Evan McMullin wasn’t on the ballot.)
- I want Republican candidates who will embrace economic conservatism, low taxes, and minimalist government, but who will stop pandering to the Religious Right with social conservatism.
- This is a protest, none-of-the-above vote; I hate Donald, I hate Hillary, Gary Johnson was on my ballot, and I’d heard of him.
- I am a sincere Libertarian. (To sort this one out, I expect they’ll look at how Gary did four years ago and assume that the number of sincere Libertarians probably stayed constant.)
I’m just going to remind everyone again that the only two candidates on the ballot with any real chance of becoming President are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Even if you trust that you are in a safe state, I think the most important message to send in this political season is a complete and utter repudiation of Trump. An absolutely crushing defeat of the sort that will make his approach absolutely toxic will give the Republican party an opportunity to rebuild.
I disagree with the GOP on nearly everything, but I also think that a healthy democracy has conservatives as well as liberals. Actual conservatives, not tantrum-throwing manbabies. If the Republicans are going to be a party of conservatism rather than a party representing fascism, racism, and one man’s vastly overinflated ego, Trump needs to go down in the flames he’s spent the last year and a half pouring lighter fluid on.