Although no third party or independent candidate has carried a state since 1968, dissatisfaction with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has resulted in a surge of support for such candidates this election cycle. Notable third party and independent nominees for the 2016 United States presidential election include Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Utah native Evan McMullin, and Vermin Supreme.

Gary Larson, a freshman business major at the U, declares that he supports Gary Johnson because “all of the primary candidates suck.” Johnson is a businessman, author, and the Libertarian Party nominee for the 2016 election.

Johnson was the Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003 and is a fiscal conservative who supports a balanced federal budget and free-market capitalist economics. This highlights the appeal of Johnson to sophomore Jeff Larsen, who is majoring in accounting. “Johnson’s track record as Governor of New Mexico, including his record on job growth, cutting taxes and vetoing a large number of spending bills that were not in the financial interest of the state of New Mexico is great,” said Larsen.

Johnson is in opposition to a large military and foreign wars; he proposes to reduce military spending by 43 percent. Regarding campaign finance regulation, Johnson supports the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that does not limit political spending by corporations and unions. Johnson is pro-civil liberties and opposes the Patriot Act along with any type of gun control legislation. Larsen feels that this “let men govern themselves” message resonates with Johnson’s pro-civil liberties stance more than any other candidate. On social policy, Johnson favors keeping abortion legal, opposes the death penalty, supports same-sex marriage, and wants to end the war on drugs. Johnson believes that guaranteed federal loans are driving up the price of college education; he proposes leaving all control of education to the individual states and a free-market solution to the rising cost of college bubble. Connor Caine, a sophomore finance major at the U, does not support Johnson because “the idea to abolish the Department of Education is dangerous and his tax code policy will hurt low-income Americans the most.”

Britt Wall, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering at the U, believes that “all third party and independent candidates are better than the main two and there are no good choices this election.” She noted that she will be voting for Jill Stein.

Stein is a physician, activist, and the Green Party nominee for the 2016 election. She ran for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010. Stein’s platform harkens to President Roosevelt’s New Deal approach to the Great Depression with Stein advocating a Green New Deal approach to the Great Recession of the 21st century. The Green New Deal consists of four components, with Stein ultimately proposing that the U.S. transition to 100 percent green energy by 2030. Tyler McDaniel, a recent U graduate in sociology and math, is passionate about Stein’s emphasis on green energy. To him, “climate change is a very important issue and we need a more progressive candidate than Hillary Clinton.” Larsen has an unfavorable view of Stein because she is “too far left economically.” Similarly, Alex Koch, a second-year Master’s student in geology, states that he has “looked at Jill Stein’s platform and feels that it probably wouldn’t work in our capitalist society.”

The first component of the Green New Deal is an economic bill of rights which includes a worker’s rights to a minimum wage of at least $15, the right to quality health care, and the right to a tuition-free, federally-funded public college. The second part consists of a Green Transition Program that will allow for the transformation of the U.S. into a green economy. Stein proposes that the Green Transition Program would be funded through a reduction of 30 percent in the military budget and an increase in taxes on speculation in stock markets, offshore tax havens, and multi-million-dollar estates. The third element of the Green New Deal is financial reform that breaks up oversized banks and ends taxpayer-funded bailouts for banks, insurers, and other financial companies. The fourth and final component of the Green New Deal is a new functioning democracy, one that overturns Citizens United, implements direct election of the president, demilitarizes the police, ends the war on drugs, reduces military spending by 50 percent, and halts deportations of law-abiding illegal immigrants. McDaniel loves this last part, claiming that he really supports Stein’s “stance on minority rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Indira Gutierrez, a junior at the U majoring in international relations with an emphasis in foreign policy and security, likes what Evan McMullin brings to the table. McMullin is an investment banker, former CIA operations officer, and independent nominee for the 2016 election. Gutierrez notes that “McMullin has insider knowledge on foreign policy and security due to his previous work experience with the CIA and must know what’s going on in the world.” To her, this is especially pertinent in the current political climate. McMullin is a fiscal conservative who supports free markets and free trade, a reduction in corporate, individual income and estate taxes, and cuts to entitlement programs. On social issues, McMullin opposes abortion with a pro-life stance and supports traditional marriage. Regarding foreign policy and the military, McMullin highlights the chief role the U.S. has played internationally in making sure that there have been no global wars since World War II; he does not support a reduction in American military presence or spending. Gutierrez’s only reservations about McMullin stem from her curiosity on “why did he run so late?”

Finally, Vermin Supreme is a performance artist, activist, anarchist, and nominee for the 2016 election; this is the seventh presidential election Supreme has run in. At the 2016 Libertarian National Convention, Supreme received the vote of a single delegate in the first round of presidential nomination voting. Supreme is the only candidate promising to fund time travel research and implement mandatory tooth brush laws. The core of his platform is based on support for a pony-based economy to combat American dependence on fossil fuels.

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Rishi Deka
Rishi Deka is a Utah Press Association award-winning photo/multimedia journalist. He is also a research academic with a PhD at the University of Utah.


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