Monday, September 26, 2016

How Many Candidates Can YOU Count?

Ah, Election 2016! I think it's probably pretty obvious that I'm voting for Gary Johnson. In fact, by now, I think a lot of voters are pretty sure they know who they're going to vote for this fall. But when considering the possibilities for president, how many candidates are people actually counting as being "in the race"? Two? Maybe three? Possibly even four?

In Democratic America, Workers World Party votes for you!
At this point, we are about six weeks away from Election Day and tonight is the first official debate. Those tuning in will see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump respond to questions (and to each other), but they will not see Gary Johnson do the same, despite being on the ballot in all 50 states. Jill Stein will be on the ballot in 45 states (including D.C.), but she won't be on the stage either. Socialist Party (er, "Peace & Freedom"?) candidate Gloria Estela La Riva won't be up there, nor will Independent Party candidate (and former CIA officerEvan McMullin,. And of the seven candidates set to appear on the Wisconsin ballot, five will be missing from tonight's debate. 

The debate stage isn't the only place third party candidates are being snubbed. Most media coverage seems to be making a conscious effort to avoid third party candidates. About a month ago, I read a article about Gary Johnson and his fundraising efforts. Good, I thought. They're covering Gary! So I hopped over to the "Candidates" part of their Election 2016 section to learn more, only to find Clinton and Trump staring back at me and no mention whatsoever of Johnson. (For the record, if you check the section now, they do have polling numbers for both Johnson and Jill Stein, but you have to scroll down the page for pictures or additional information.) Another example: This past weekend, I was watching Face the Nation at my parents' house and couldn't help but cringe every time the host referred to Mike Pence and Tim Kaine as "the two" VP candidates. I kept correcting him, first in my head, and eventually out loud. "Two of the VP candidates. Not THE two. Stop that! You're getting it wrong!"

And they are. We may refer to it as a two-party system, but there are TONS of candidates out there! To suggest that Pence and Kaine are the only two VP candidates out there, or that Trump and Clinton are the only options for president, is just incorrect. With the help of, let me break this down for you all.

Number of candidates in tonight's debate: 2
Number of candidates on the ballot in all 50 states: 3
Number of candidates on the ballot in at least 20 states: 5
Number of candidates on the ballot in at least 6 states: 10
Number of candidates on the ballot in at least 1 state: 31
Number of candidates w/out ballot status, but available as write-in: way more than I'm willing to count right now (seriously... there are a TON)

A nation divided.
We're an incredibly diverse nation with multiple races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, gender identities, condiment preferences, political affiliations, and more. How could we possibly everyone to fall under one of two candidates? So next time you think about how many candidates there are in this presidential election, remember this crazy long list of contenders. They may not be your candidate, but they're someone's candidate. (Yes, even the guy from the Pirate Party.) Everyone needs someone to believe in.

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