Elections Central: The Rise of the Third Party

For those U.S. citizens who find it difficult to identify with the beliefs of either of the two main political parties, third party alternatives (such as the Libertarian Party or the Green Party) may seem more appealing.

The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971, and built around the ideology that the government should have a minimal presence in the life of citizens. Part of the party’s preamble reads “we seek a world of liberty…all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others...respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world…only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized…we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power”. Forty-five years after the party was founded, it has nearly 150 politicians in elected office. Targeting those who feel that Republicans and Democrats focus on big government, foregoing the liberties the nation was built upon, is how Libertarians augment their support.

The Green Party gives an additional option for those seeking to pledge allegiance to less established political parties. Founded in 2001, the party “seeks to identify the most crucial problems facing our country and offers ideas for responsible action to solve them”. According to the party’s mission statement, those crucial problems include health budget cuts, relocated jobs, pollution and toxic foods. Although many would consider this political party as just a subset of the democratic one, an in-depth examination of the two helps to reveal their differences. While the democratic politicians support “community and social responsibility”, green politicians promote more of a grassroots democracy, supported through the “promotion of environmentalism, non-hierarchical participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace, and nonviolence”. The Green Party doesn’t have nearly as much political recognition as they would like, but that might change through determined politicians like Robin Laverne Wilson.

Robin “Dragonfly” Wilson is running to be a New York U.S. Senator, as the Green party candidate. Wilson grew up in San Antonio, Texas and is a Rutgers University alum. Wilson considers herself running “for our lives”. She explains this unique basis of a platform by claiming that “the urgency of every single issue is a matter of life and death. We are threatened by the economy on one hand and the ecology on the other. It's time to reset our collective priorities to Planet, People, and Peace in THAT specific order to ensure a true prosperity for all”. There is not much information about Wilson’s views on the issues on her campaign site, and this is because she sees her "Planet, People, Peace" slogan as an ideology that speaks for itself. In the video below, Wilson explains her mentality on this concept.

Prioritizing the earth above all other issues, Robin Laverne Wilson hopes to deal with additional problems in an easier way. “When you have an earth first policy everything else takes care of itself”, she said in the video. She also plans to use her influence, if elected senator, to strengthen communities; mentioning how empowering the Black Lives Matter movement would ultimately lead to liberation for all affinities.  

This senate seat is believed to go to democratic candidate Chuck Schumer. He’s held the seat since 1999, so his republican opponent, Wendy Long, will not stand much of a threat come November 8th. Wilson recognizes her true opposition is Senator Schumer, and tailors her political rhetoric to attacking him specifically; saying “I am running for Senator to challenge the establishment's pattern of lethal legislation made by corporate interests and military leadership. While everyone is distracted by the current dog-and-pony show of our Presidential Election, Senator Chuck Schumer and his dismal voting record towards the planet and its people continues to fly unchallenged under the radar”.

It is very unlikely for Wilson to upset this established politician on election day, but her presence in this race establishes her for potential elections in her political future and reaffirms the presence of the Green Party. Although standing with third party candidates is becoming more common, the Libertarian Party has significantly more support than the Green. A perfect example of this is the presidential election. There is a huge push to get Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate, to square off against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a debate. Although this candidate is making huge strides in the polls as a third party politician, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate has received barely any coverage or support. As the Green Party’s presence slowly diminishes, it’s reassuring to adamant supporters, to see candidates such as Robin Laverne Wilson refusing to let the party die.