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Kuntz: Time for a third party

BY KATHERINE KUNTZ | JULY 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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Earlier this month, Jill Stein was formally nominated as the Green Party of the United States’ presidential candidate, and she chose Cheri Honkala as her running mate.

Though it’s unlikely that a third-party candidate can actually win the presidential election, the true significance of having a third-party candidate on the ballot at all is the opportunity to allow for community-based democracy, and the chance for Stein to influence the national debate.

However, the Green Party is not automatically granted political standing in Iowa, so the Johnson County Green Party is working hard to get the signatures required to get Stein on the ballot this year.  

The Green Party, although relatively small, is important to our democratic society because of its integrity in campaigning, its commitment to strong communities, and its focus on issues and policies rather than solely getting elected.

Since the Supreme Court landmark decision commonly referred to as Citizen’s United, candidates have been able to accept unlimited campaign contributions through political-action committees, and Americans have seen a progression toward elections that are effectively bought.

However, the Green Party isn’t interested in campaign contributions from large corporations; rather, it is wholly influenced by the demands of the respective communities in which it serves and is focused primarily on getting its ideology out, even if that doesn’t give its candidates a seat in the White House.

“One of the current big problems with the political parties is that they are bought and paid for by corporate interests, and we figure we can deny those interests. It’s an issue of integrity,” said Holly Hart, the secretary of the Iowa Green Party and facilitator of the Johnson County Green Party.

Hart also said the Iowa Green Party is not as large as in other states, but the reason it is trying to get a presidential nominee on the Iowa ballot is to promote issue-based policies and a stronger Green Party in Iowa.

“Right now, we’re trying to get as many people to just go out and get the signatures,” Hart said. “We still need several hundred to get Jill Stein on the ballot in Iowa.”

Despite the factors that often prevent any third-party candidate from receiving many of the electoral votes, such as the option to vote a straight-party ticket, the significance of a strong third-party presidential candidate means that local parties are strengthened, if only through recognition, and that the focus shifts from Republican versus Democrat to finding solutions for the issues facing the nation.

I’m continuously irritated that commercials geared toward “swing voters” such as me are not addressing the things that really matter. Despite ongoing U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts, massive economic debt, the state of our education system, and the questionable future of health care and jobs for young people such as me, political ads attack the personal character of candidates and fail to address solutions to problems facing every American.

Presidential nominee Stein and running mate Honkala don’t occupy very many time slots on national news networks, and there’s no guarantee their names will even be on the ballot, unless their grass-roots supporters can get enough signatures to allow them to participate. However, they deserve our attention, if only because the other candidates have misused and worn out their time in the spotlight.

Their platform, their grass-roots efforts, and their positions on policies could get America en route toward stability. Rather than advertisements that build the entire election around which candidates do the people loathe less, these women will discuss policies for election reform, strengthening democracy, and achieving an economy that promotes peace and prosperity.

The Johnson County Green Party needs signatures to get Stein on the Iowa presidential ballot. The U.S. needs a strong third party to shift the nation from a two-party, better-of-two-evils debate and to start looking at the issues and solutions.


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