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Podcast | Race to the White House: Third-party candidates

V Nivedita | Updated on July 10, 2020 Published on July 10, 2020

The elections are not just a contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Today, we'll see other contenders in the race to win the presidency.

In the past two episodes, we analysed President Donald Trump's reelection bid and democratic party's nominee Joe Biden's campaign. Today, we'll see other contenders in the race to win the presidency.

Hi I am Nivedita Varadarajan and welcome to a new episode of the race to the white house. Even though the american election is a contest between the Republicans and the Democrats, there are other parties, like the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, which we should look at.

67-year-old Howard Hawkins, who is the co-founder of the Green Party, won its nomination this year. He wants to unite various progressive causes together, and position himself as the  alternative to Biden. In the 1970s, he even campaigned for Bernie Sanders in Vermont. 

In his list of promises, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, an Economic Bill of Rights, legalising marijuana, ending conflicts abroad and demilitarising the police at home feature prominently. Remember, these are all causes which progressives hold dear to their hearts. Also, he has done what Biden says he will do -- choose a woman running mate. He has selected Angela Walker, who is also a socialist and is black. The party's convention is taking place right now -- between July 9 – July 12. He will be formally named the party's nominee here.

Jo Jorgensen is the Libertarian party's  first female nominee. Along with her running mate, Jeremy “Spike” Cohen, she hopes to make the government "much, much smaller" reduce government deficit, stop US involvement in foreign wars, bringing back the US troops from foreign soil, promote eco-friendly industries and reduce poverty.

And, then, there are wildcards, like rapper Kanye West who tweeted that he was running to be president of the United States. While talking about his run to Forbes,  Kanye said, “Let’s see if the appointing is at 2020 or if it’s 2024—because God appoints the president. If I win in 2020 then it was God’s appointment. If I win in 2024 then that was God’s appointment.”

Despite receiving the backing of billionaire Elon Musk, it might be too late for Kanye to win the elections. He is already missed the deadlines to register himself in the ballots in six states, so he can’t run North Carolina (March 3), Texas (May 11) or New York (May 26). He can’t also contest in Maine (June 1), New Mexico (June 25) and Indiana (June 30). In all he already lost 102 electoral college votes of the total 538.

What’s my take?

It is quite clear that the third-party candidates will not will the presidency this time around. However, they can lead the way in policy formation and show alternative models of governing the US.

They can play spoil sports: will progressives in the Democratic party choose Hawkins in the presidential elections to express their displeasure with Biden? After all, the newly released progressive agenda released by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders’ task force doesn’t really cater to them.

This has happened in 2016 – Green Party’s Jill Stein did well in battleground states, prompting Democrats to say she spoilt Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning by splitting the anti-trump vote. Polls show that this is unlikely to repeat this year, with  Biden leading trump in big margins. Whatever, be the case, the these two fringe parties are pushing ideas which are popular to some segments of voters, forcing mainstream parties to take notice.

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Published on July 10, 2020