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Alternative Candidates for the ’08 Presidential Elections

3rd Party CandidatesOne of the various pitfalls of a two-party system is the lack of recognition or equal chance third parties can receive as their Republican or Democratic counterparts.

3rd Party CandidatesLast week’s headlines were fixed on the Democratic National Convention and the historic nomination of Senator Barack Obama to become the first African American to represent a major party in the 2008 presidential elections. This week, the Republican convention will most likely command the media and national attention.

One of the various pitfalls of a two-party system is the lack of recognition or equal chance third parties can receive as their Republican or Democratic counterparts. While the campaigns led by Senator Obama and Senator John McCain have both touted “change” as their respective theme, for Arab Americans and Muslims that change has been difficult to come by. The most pressing matters to the community range from the Iraq war to health care and education. The Republican and Democratic nominees have both failed immensely in reaching out to the Muslim community in the United States, which is estimated to be around seven million strong. The beauty of democracy is that it offers choices; whilst this article is in no way or form an endorsement of any candidate, its purpose is to instead highlight the fact there are alternative candidates for the community to pick from.

There are at least 14 candidates running for president, the more notable names ones being Ralph Nader, Bob Barr, and Cynthia McKinney.

Representative Cynthia McKinney is representing the Green Party. In a 2005 article on CounterPunch.org, McKinney termed the Iraq war an “illegal and immoral war.” According to the Washington Post, in 2006 she introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush for three offenses: manipulating intelligence, lying to defend the Iraq war, and failing to uphold and regulate accountability within the domestic spying program. McKinney was also among only a handful of members of Congress to oppose the Patriot Act. She also voted to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry in House Resolution 255 following September 11, 2001. According to her official website, McKinney opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and decreasing the waiting period after purchasing a gun from three days to one day. With regards to the ever-pressing issue of healthcare, McKinney has the following to say: “In Congress, I was a co-sponsor of every bill to create a national system for universal access to health care under a single payer model.”

Bob Barr is representing the Libertarian Party in the ’08 presidential elections. In a press release dated June 2008, Barr supported an immediate but unannounced withdrawal from Iraq in order to protect the security of the US. Barr believes the healthcare system needs reform, in addition to the fact that Medicare and Medicaid have become financially unsustainable and must be rehabilitated to highlight patient choice. According to Barr, the solution is not socialized medicine but rather consumer-oriented healthcare. Barr is also a very vocal advocate of the Second Amendment; he opposes any law requiring the regulation or placing restriction on the ownership or sale of firearms or ammunition. On the topic of education, Barr addresses the matter on his official campaign website and states that the education system will be more effective if it occurs within a competitive private system rather than a government system. The solution presented by Barr is to abolish the Department of Education, eliminate federal grants and regulations, and hand over control to back to the States and local communities.

Ralph Nader is running as an independent candidate this election. The U.S Elections Atlas lists Nader as having had received 2.7 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 presidential elections. Nader supports repealing the Patriot Act and has urged the Justice Department to take actions against civil rights violations against Arab Americans and Muslims. In a February 2008 article in the Wall Street Journal, Nader voiced his support for universal health care, stating that healthcare should be provided by a national, single-payer health insurance program funded by the federal government. He also stresses that education is a vital issue and that the government must instantaneously provide full funding for Head Start and ensure that all children receive pre-school education. Nader is also in favor of reversing US policy in the Middle East and cutting what he deems on his campaign website a wasteful military budget.

While this article did not touch on the many other candidates also taking part in the election, the imitative for the reader to do so is very important. Being aware of the candidates taking part in the elections helps the voter make an educated decision when deciding who to cast their ballot for. Enough of the belief that Muslims must always choose between “the lesser of two evils”; this notion has kept our community politically handicapped for too long now. Where there is choice, there is also power.

Huda Jawad is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She is a new member of the Islamic Insights team and hopes to write about politics and history.

About Huda Jawad

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  • Ali A

    excellent piece… it introduced a few new names.

  • anonymous

    As a Muslim and a person of African American descent I feel that Senator Barack Obama represents me,better then any other politician that I have seen in my life. In fairness to making an educated choice I have studied the aforementioned candidates in this article. However, this election is important and because of the reality of racism it will be a lot closer then many people anticipate. If one feels that Senator John ” I really wanted Sen. Liebermann to be my VP” McCain has the best interest of the immigrant Muslim at hand, realize that a vote for the aforementioned third party candidate or not voting at all is also a vote for McCain. Be active and participate in the process this is what makes the US so great, because your voice will be heard.

  • anonymous

    While I respect third party candidates and wish our system allowed them to be more viable, the time is not yet here. All of them can run on idealist platforms knowing they will not really be elected and have to try to carry them out – the public, unfortunately, is not ready for their platforms and they would have disastrous presidencies trying to actually carry them out.

    I think we need to encourage third party politics because it is an avenue for change. But when it comes down to pulling the lever, so to speak, I cannot in good conscience vote for a candidate that is third party that I know cannot win this particular election, because I know that the effect of that vote is to aid a viable candidate that would be my absolute last choice for office.

    If someone finds neither of the two leading candidates as better than the other at all, then a third party vote makes sense. But if someone believes one of them really is better than another, then I think the vote should make that clear. The other thing I guess we need to realize is that it is the electoral college that matters ultimately – and they can vote for whoever they wish, regardless of the will of the people they represent, although most will choose to vote based on proportions of their state. Thus, third party candidates are even more marginalized, and a vote for one in many cases doesn’t really equal a vote for one – just a vote NOT for someone else.

    For me, I don’t think a candidate will match my positions exactly, but I think we can look to how they behave ethically and under pressure as a sign of their what their presidency could be like.

    I wish this country had developed some different methods of voting; I studied voting science a bit and there are so many better ways than our system that would get to the true will of the people and make “alternative” candidates more viable.

  • Zahra

    Thanks for the article. I agree 100% with the sister. Why would we vote for obama who grovels for AIPAC? why would we vote for obama who is ashamed of muslims?

  • Servant

    Salaam…The reason to vote for one of the prominent candidates is to save the Muslims from the greater of two evils. In other words, for “Daf’ al darar” (pushing away the severe harm). It is pretty clear that one of the prominent candidates is more of a threat to Muslims; and evaluating the situation lies with each responsible Muslim.

    Thank you.

  • Victoria

    I originally thought voting for Obama would be the lesser of the two-evils but not after he picked Biden for his VP. Now that man is pretty scary!