While both of the national political parties seem to be saddled with presidential candidates who see the presidency as a vehicle for increasing their net worth, money and raw power do not appear to be the motivators of the three main third-party candidates.
Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, Dr. Jill Stein, and intelligence analyst Evan McMullin may not be as polished and on-message as Hillary Clinton, nor as loud and theatrical as Donald Trump, but the third-party candidates do seem to be better connected to the people they are vying to lead. These "little guys" are working to bring down the tightly controlled and overtly rigged two-party system that has had a virtual strangle-hold on the American political process for the past century-and-a-half - the system that has narrowed our choices to the likes of Hillary and Donald. And as they rush about the country in their small planes and private automobiles, these lesser-known candidates for the presidency are infusing the campaign with something that has been lacking - honest discussion at the neighborhood level about a whole host of issues. They are also giving the campaign some much needed sparkle and pazazz.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate has a primary focus on the decriminalization of marijuana - along with a host of other concerns regarding what Libertarians see as government incursions into our basic rights. Johnson made news this week when he was asked about the situation in Aleppo (Syria) - to which Johnson asked a totally honest question in return - "What is Aleppo?" While the national media might have looked on that exchange as some sort of disqualifier, lots of hard working Americans who don't have time to wallow in the never-ending news cycles, popped a top and asked, "Yeah, what is Aleppo?"
Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party ripped a page out of a 1960's protest manual earlier in the week when she spray-painted "I approve this message" on the blade of a bulldozer that was being used on the Dakota Access pipeline. Construction of the pipeline is being opposed by members of North Dakota Indian tribes and a bevy of green activists. For her efforts in trying to stop the pipeline, Dr. Stein has reportedly earned an arrest warrant with her name on it. In addition to wanting to preserve our natural resources for future generations, Stein supports free cradle-to-grave health insurance and a plan that would make college free and would pay off student debts that have already been incurred by our struggling young people.
Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative who is unhappy with the current administration as well as with the candidates of the two major parties, has made it onto the ballot in nine states so far. He sees Trump as a flawed candidate who can't win, and is running as a right-of-center alternative to the New York businessman. McMullin was in the news this week when it was revealed that he may have inadvertently picked a running mate without intending to. He placed the name "Nathan Johnson" on the ballot as a "placeholder," only to learn later that in eight of his nine states the selection cannot be changed. Nathan Johnson is reportedly a friend of McMullin's. McMullin, a Morman, is expected to do well in Utah where his name on the ballot could be a significant factor in the results.
For those who prefer to look beyond the sad offerings of the national political parties this year, more choices are out there: a pothead, a vandal, and a candidate with a mystery running mate. America, what a country!