Meet the Candidates Who Will Never Be President

In the world of electoral politics, “America needs a third party!” has become a common refrain. In September 2014, a Gallup poll showed that 58% of Americans agree with that sentiment. As it turns out, they may just be in luck. While Democrats and Republicans dominate politics and mainstream news coverage, there are plenty of obscure third parties out there wishing someone would give them the time of day. Here’s the run-down of who they are, what they want, and whether they have a chance.

Jill Stein (Green Party)
Who is she?
Previously a candidate in the 2012 race, Jill Stein has actively protested foreclosures, Wall Street, and third parties’ exclusion from debates. Her platform, which she calls the “Power to the People Plan,” includes a “Green New Deal”—a set of clean energy policies that follow guidelines recommended by the United Nations—as well as plans to promote LGBT rights, end police brutality, and forgive student debt. Stein embraces a non-interventionist approach to foreign affairs, with a plan to cut military spending by at least 50%, and intends to end mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers.

Can she win?
It depends on who wins the Democratic nomination. Right now, Bernie Sanders is the favored candidate among the moderate-leftists-who-think-they’re-being-radical bloc, and this will stay the same if he wins the Democratic nomination—voting for a candidate from a major party is generally a much safer option. However, should the centrist Hillary Clinton win the nomination, those seeking a more progressive candidate may turn to Stein, whose support of “workplace democracy” and “community cooperatives” comes far closer to the actual definition of socialism than Sanders’ vague rambling about taxes and the “billionaire classes.”

Robert David Steele (Libertarian Party)
Who is he?
It’s difficult to find out, since his website, or rather, his cluttered page on a larger website, is just that confusing. He spends a few paragraphs explaining how he is “available to serve as a consultant, speaker, moderator, coach, workshop organizer across a very wide range of topics,” and can give you advice to help you make more money. Like, okay, but usually when you’re running for president you need to talk about what you’ll do as a president, not as a personal business consultant. After this misdirected bit of self-promotion, Steele posts a long list of links to his speeches and writings, most of which have nothing to do with his presidential campaign. After a lot of digging, however, it is possible to find his opinions on two subjects: electoral reform, which candidates like Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul are already dealing with, and “open source intelligence,” or information gathered from publicly available sources. There’s nothing on his views on economics, social issues, or foreign policy, though.

Can he win?
No. He’s really a single-issue candidate; other candidates are incorporating plans for electoral reform into their own, more diverse platforms, and doing better at it. He also needs a better website if he’s going to get anywhere.

Roseanne Barr (Peace & Freedom Party)
Who is she?
In 2012, stand-up comedian Roseanne Barr tried to win the Green Party nomination but failed, and instead became the candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party, a left-wing party whose platform appears almost identical to the Greens’. This year, she is once again running for president, though you wouldn’t know from her website, which references her 2016 campaign exactly once in a blog post from April. She has previously called transgender people “dicktardian” and told a member of the Transgender Law Center who hadn’t even been talking to her to “f*** off,” and more recently tweeted a picture of a pride parade, where two men are holding signs reading “Gays & Muslims Unite! Fight All Hate” with the caption “Stupid Gays.”

Can she win?
Nah. By now, even the most moderate liberals won’t put up with a candidate who doesn’t support the LGBT community. Even if she hadn’t made those comments, she doesn’t stand out enough to garner significant support.

Bob Whitaker (American Freedom Party)
Who is he?
Ew. Claiming to have studied for a Ph.D. and to have been a former Reagan appointee, Bob Whitaker is running for a blatantly white supremacist party under the slogan “Diversity is White Genocide.” He has referred to the Charleston massacre and the shooting at a Kansas Jewish community center as a “warning,” and described the Syrian refugee crisis as a “non-white invasion.”

Can he win?
It’s not that racism isn’t a problem, but most of the racists here are just going to vote for Trump. So no.

Gloria La Riva (Party for Socialism & Liberation)
Who is she?
Formerly a member of the Workers World Party and later the Peace and Freedom Party, La Riva has engaged in activism in support of Cuba, unions, and LGBT rights, and against the U.S. blockade against Iraq and NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia. She is now a candidate for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, a Marxist-Leninist party whose goal is to eventually grow large enough to implement a socialist revolution. Their platform, although worded somewhat vaguely, seems quite appealing: they call for a job as a right, affordable housing and healthcare, and for the removal of U.S. troops from foreign soil. However, La Riva has dismissed evidence of the horrors of the USSR as just “anti-communist stereotypes,” and her party claims that North Korea’s human rights violations were just “false charges” fabricated by the U.S. to “weaken and overthrow the socialist country of North Korea… in its drive for wealth and power.” Pardon the pun, but that seems like a red flag.

Can she win?
No. Even if the U.S. electorate were to swing suddenly leftward, it’s highly unlikely that a majority of them would support such a party that relies on conspiracy theories to support its dogma.

James Hedges (Prohibition Party)
Who is he?
Someone who doesn’t like alcohol. The Prohibition Party, the oldest in the country, wants to return to “traditional values,” which include taxing pornography and banning alcohol and tobacco. Hedges has been involved in the party for years, but the only elected office he has held was a tax assessor in his native Fulton County, Pennsylvania.

Can he win?
Nope. Drinking is way too fun for that.

Chris Keniston (Veterans Party of America)
Who is he?
A member of the small, center-right Veterans Party of America, Keniston supports a balanced budget, but thinks he can abolish the income tax and still pay off the debt. He’s also into secure borders, as well as buzzwords like “the Constitution” and “job creation,” and repeats a lot of principles such as “the separation of church and state,” which pretty much everyone agrees on anyways. His party posits itself as a radical alternative to the “extremes” of the Democrats and Republicans—a way to “take back our country” (“Make America Great Again,” anyone?)—which doesn’t make much sense, since the two parties aren’t even that different.

Can he win?
Given that his intended constituency is all going to be voting for Jeb Bush or Jim Webb or George Pataki or whichever mainstream candidate seems to lean more toward the center, definitely not.

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