The alt-candidates of 2008


Besides Obama and McCain, Rhode Islanders will have five additional choices for president next Tuesday. In this week's Phoenix, Steven Stycos offers a look at the third-party presidential candidates.

Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party (
Baldwin, a Baptist minister in Florida, is a graduate of conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Bible Institute in Virginia. His online campaign biography proudly notes that two former conservative presidential candidates, Patrick Buchanan and Alan Keyes, have spoken at his church. ...

Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party (
As a four-term US representative, Barr challenged the Bush administration’s restrictions on personal freedoms, but he is best known as one of the House prosecutors who presented the Clinton impeach-ment case to the US Senate.

The Democrat-dominated Georgia legislature returned the favor and redrew Barr’s district for the 2002 election, and he then lost the Republican primary. The libertarians are on the ballot in 45 states and support abortion rights, gay marriage, repeal of the income tax, US withdrawal from NATO, eliminating Social Security, and ending prohibitions on recreational use of drugs. “The less government the better,” summaries Rhode Island Libertarian Party chairman David Bibeault of Smithfield, adding, “Competition in the free market is the solution to just about every problem we have.” . ...

Gloria La Riva of the Party For Socialism And Liberation (
As the standard-bearer for the newest and most radical of the third parties, California anti-war and union activist La Riva is on the ballot in 12 states. In the short term, the party calls for US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, eliminating insurance companies, offering free health care for all, immediate citizenship for illegal immigrants, and independence for Puerto Rico. In the long term, the party wants a socialist revolution. Party activist Jennifer Zaldana of Boston says the revolution may be violent, “but we would do our very best to have it be everything but.” The Central Falls native says the Cuban government is the closest model to what the party seeks in the US. She minimizes free speech concerns in the Communist nation, saying some are untrue and others caused by the US blockade. The party has no local candidates and no local chapter, but it is part of the ANSWER coalition which organized several Providence anti-war demonstrations. ...

Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party (
McKinney’s six terms in Congress were marked by a liberal voting record, activism on African human-rights issues, and a string of controversial statements. For example, she said that President Bush “may” have had prior knowledge of 9/11, but did not act to help the defense industry stocks of his father’s associates. ...

Ralph Nader of the Independent Party (
Nader, who famously ran as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2000, is on the ballot in 45 states. He favors impeachment of President Bush, a $50-per-ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions, repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act, a single-payer universal health plan, and cuts in the defense budget. He also emphasizes energy conservation and opposes promotion of ethanol, because it diverts corn from the food supply.

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