The Founding Fathers were vehemently against a national party (faction) system, especially a two-party model. The first three presidents - George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – delivered strong cautionary words against the threat of political parties (although Adams and Jefferson would eventually succumb to the lure of the party system). However, the first-past-the-post voting system practiced at all levels of elections in the country means candidates who win a plurality of the votes in any election become the sole legislative representative of the entire county/district/state. This virtually guarantees the rise and institutionalization of the two-party system as losing candidates/parties get zero representation regardless of their performance.

Countries which practice proportional representation voting system, such as Germany, Italy or New Zealand, have thriving multi-party systems as even minor parties are represented in the highest legislative bodies.

With the cards solidly stacked against smaller political parties, it is no wonder then that third party candidates have always struggled to compete against the big two (which began as the Federalists vs the Democratic-Republicans, before switching to the Democratic-Republicans vs the Whigs in the early 19th century, and finally settling with the Democrats vs the Republicans from the mid-19th century onward).

Even in the 1992 presidential election, when Reform Party candidate Ross Perot won an incredible 18.9% of the votes, the party did not receive even a single seat in Congress for their effort. Similarly, despite regular losses at state and federal level, Libertarian and Green parties’ candidates regularly win a significant share of the votes but cannot be awarded with any representation at state legislatures and Congress. Compare that to the third highest performing party in the 2013 Bundestag election in Germany, Die Linke (The Left). The party earned 64 of the 631 seats in the Bundestag after winning just eight percent of the votes.

As long as the country practices a first-past-the-post voting system, third parties will never gain sufficient strength to enable its candidates to win the presidency. Polling exclusions, presidential debate participation and ballot access legislations also create additional barriers to third-party candidacies. This is the harsh truth. However, third party candidates have played the spoiler role successfully before.

• In 1848, former president Martin van Buren failed to win the Democratic nomination. With the support of the abolitionist elements from the Democratic Party, van Buren established the Free Soil Party and ran as a third-party candidate. He only secured 10% of the votes, but it siphoned enough votes away from Democratic candidate Lewis Cass to enable Whig candidate Zachary Taylor to win the presidency.

• In 1856, another spurned former Democratic president Millard Fillmore ran under The Know-Nothing Party banner and won 21.5% of the votes - and eight states. He took away sufficient votes from John C. Frémont of the Republican Party, who was also running on the abolitionist platform.

• In 1860, two third-party candidates, John Bell and John C. Breckinridge, won 30.7% of the votes to ensure the victory of Abraham Lincoln (who only managed to win 39.65% of the votes, the second lowest in history).

• In 1912, former president Teddy Roosevelt’s third-party run under the Progressive Party ticket outperformed that of the incumbent Republican president, William Taft, consigning the latter to a humiliating third-place finish.

• In 1924, the Progressive Party again played the spoiler role, but this time, its candidate Robert M. La Follette took advantage of the split in the Democratic Party to win 16.6% of the votes and gifted the election to Republican Calvin Coolidge.

• In 1968, American Independent Party candidate George Wallace, a former Democratic governor of Alabama, won 13.5% of the votes and the electoral votes of five states (46). It ultimately proved insufficient to derail Republican Richard Nixon’s eventual victory. However, Wallace’s candidacy is significant because he is the last third-party candidate to carry a state in a presidential election.

• In 1992, Ross Perot’s candidacy under the Reform Party very nearly upset the formbooks. By the middle of the year, Perot was actually leading the race in a few polls. However, he withdrew from the race in July allegedly due to homophobic threats made against his daughter. He reentered the race in October, and still managed to secure almost nineteen percent of the votes, mostly from the southern, Deep South and Bible belt states.

• In 2000, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader’s small 2.74% share of the votes proved sufficient to affect the outcome of a tightly-contested race between Republican George Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

So, is the role of third parties in American presidential elections, and politics in general, limited to the spoiler’s role? Bereft of wide-ranging political reforms, are third-parties consigned to irrelevancy? The answer is a resounding NO!

Third parties are still capable of influencing the direction and focus of American politics, as we have seen time and again throughout the nation’s history. The Free Soil Party moved the anti-slavery dialogue from the fringes into the mainstream; the Prohibition Party influenced national social and moral discourse and legislation for over half a century; the Reform Party pushed federal deficit into an election issue – there are many more examples.

Third parties provide fresh ideas and elevate issues into the mainstream political dialogue. The most notable recent example is the tea party and Ron Paul’s paleolibertarian movement. Although they are technically not political parties, the two movements were hugely influential in the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 midterms. Many have pointed out that the two movements were responsible for the renewed focus on fiscal conservatism and states’ rights – and even paved the way for the arrival of Donald Trump.

Essentially, third parties are national political laboratories, where ideas, issues and ideologies undergo experiments and evolutions before being elevated to the national stage. Some of these concepts even end up being co-opted by the big two.

So once again, third parties and third-party presidential candidates do have a strong and important role to play in American politics. We need them.

 Third party and Independent

2016 Constitution Party Presidential Nominee
Attorney and 2008 Constitution Party Vice Presidential nominee
2016 Constitution Party Candidate  Darrell Castle
  Declared 2016 Constitution Party Candidate
If elected president, the Tennessean attorney and former Marine intends take the country out of the United Nations and NATO. The host of The Castle Report podcast also aims to implement a “different monetary system” and end the Federal Reserve as part of his plan to tackle the federal deficit.

2016 Libertarian Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of New Mexico
Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson
  Declared 2016 Libertarian Candidate
Governor Veto, as Gary Johnson was not-so-fondly known during his two terms as governor of New Mexico, has an enviable track record of success both in the private and public sector, an accomplishment that very few politicians can boast off. The fiscally conservative and socially liberal former construction company owner is seeking to build on his record breaking performance in 2012 by elevating the Libertarian Party to major party status in this election cycle.

Johnson Vice-Presidential Running Mate

2016 Libertarian Vice-Presidential Nominee
Businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts
Libertarian Vice-Presidential Nominee Bill Weld
  Declared 2016 Libertarian Candidate
There was a time when Gov. William Weld was considered as one of the rising stars of the Republican Party. He was a fearless prosecutor, and had an astonishing conviction record in corruption cases while serving as District Attorney for Massachusetts and head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. However, his ascension finally grounded to a halt in 1997 when one of the many toes he stepped on interfered with his Senate hearing as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. He’s launched a couple of comeback attempts since, but the marijuana decriminalization advocate’s nomination as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate is his first foray into national politics in about 20 years.

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2016 Veterans Party of America Presidential Nominee
Aircraft Maintenance Professional
Veterans Party of America Candidate 2016 Chris Keniston
  Declared 2016 Veterans Party of America Candidate
Chris Keniston is a former military man, the third in a line of military service members in his bloodline dating back to his grandfather. His primary focus is on the creation of jobs, and his proposals for accomplishing this concern encouraging business and reforming the existing tax code – including by repeal of the 16th Amendment.

2016 Green Party Presidential Nominee
Physician, Reformer, Environmental Activist
Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein
  Declared 2016 Green Party Candidate
Dr. Jill Stein, a Harvard-trained physician, has emerged as the favorite protest candidate of the progressive grassroots. Her stances on single-payer health care, campaign finance reforms and student loan debt forgiveness, and her refusal to accept money from corporate donors have resonated with millennials. Dr. Stein’s current polling numbers suggest that she is well on track to match – and even surpass – Ralph Nader’s performance in 2000 presidential election.

JStein Vice-Presidential Running Mate

2016 Green Party Vice-Presidential Nominee
Humans Right Activist
Green Party Vice-Presidential Nominee Ajamu Baraka
  Declared 2016 Green Party Candidate
Ajamu Baraka is an internationally well-regarded human rights activist and a far-left social justice advocate with experience stretching over three decades. He first came into international attention in 1998 after being invited by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Paris to attend an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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 Other 2016 Presidential Candidates 
Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Management and Market Research
Independent Presidential CandidateEd Baker
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Dissatisfied with the job done by entrenched career politicians from both parties, Ed Baker has bold ideas to resolve a variety of issues including crime, spending and immigration. Conservatives, independents and progressives can all find common ground with at least one of Bakers positions.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Software Engineer
Independent Presidential Candidate 2016David Boarman
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

David Boarman has always believed in the Christian God – he just never acted like it until the age of 44, when a personal crisis brought on an intense devotion to his faith. Today, he's running for President because he's convinced that's what Gods wants him to do. He's a right-wing candidate with a strong emphasis on religious freedom.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Music Lover
2016 Independent Presidential CandidateBrian Briggs
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Brian Briggs fancies himself the “average guy” that America needs as President. An Independent, he is beholden to neither major party, and his platform borrows from both. He's on the right side of the spectrum on gun control and his feelings towards Obamacare, but he has leftist attitudes on workers' rights.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Entrepreneur, human rights activist
Independent Presidential Candidate 2016Paul Chehade
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

The Delaware-born Chehade is an idealist. A successful entrepreneur, Mr. Chehade is also the chairman of the non-profit organization Solidary Foundation, which is dedicated towards providing food, education and other critical support services to needy communities the world over.

Declared 2016 Constitutionist Party Presidential Candidate
Middle Class Citizen
Constitutionist Party Candidate 2016James
  Potential 2016 Constitutionist Party Candidate

The Constitutionist Party's candidate doesn't offer much on his qualifications, be they academic or professional. But as his party's name implies, he's big on upholding the Constitution, which to him means limiting the power and scope of the federal government and respecting foreign nations to handle their own governmental affairs.

Declared 2016 Reform Party Presidential Candidate
Management consultant and semi-retired professional engineer
Reform Party Presidential CandidateKen Cross
  Potential 2016 Reform Party Candidate

A member of the Reform party and fiscal conservative, Kenneth Cross confidently asserts that he has been studying politics throughout his entire life. He is a trained engineer, who presently works as a management consultant, and has owned three different small businesses.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
2016 Independent Candidate Robert Dionisio
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Robert Dionisio is a prolific business owner, starting as a little boy when he would collect forgotten litter and earn money turning it in for recycling. A critic of both major political parties, he\'s nevertheless a right-leaning presidential candidate, with budget reform intentions and a strong support of gun rights.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Veteran and Electrical Servicing Business Owner
Independent Candidate 2016Art Drew
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Art Drew is a Vietnam veteran who has owned his own business. He's also from a rural farming area, where he learned hard work and an appreciation for people who cultivate the land. His policies are non-extreme, and find their most comfortable reception in the political center.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Conservative Christian and 2012 presidential candidate
2016 Independent Candidate David Holcomb
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Residing in Springfield Nebraska, David is a lawyer who specializes in family law. Holcomb describes himself as conservative, Christian, pro-life, and pro-Second Amendment. His presidential run as an independent didn't gain much traction in 2012.

Declared 2016 Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidate
Futurist, philosopher, speaker and journalist
Transhumanist Party Presidential Candidate 2016Zoltan Istvan
  Potential 2016 Transhumanist Party Candidate

It's all about technology for Transhumanist Party founder and presidential nominee Zoltan Istvan. His main priority is the allocation of funding for research scientists to develop augmentations for the human body that will destroy disease, enhance natural senses, and even conquer the specter of death.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
The Real Grandmaster Jay
Independent Candidate 2016John Fitzgerald Johnson
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

John Fitzgerald Johnson, also known as “The Real Grandmaster Jay” to fans of his musical work, is a civil rights activist with strong feelings on addressing police brutality. Politically left of center, he's also an advocate of woman's rights and greatly sympathizes with the plight of illegal immigrants.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Executive Consultant
Independent Candidate 2016Lynn Sandra Kahn
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Lynn Sandra Kahn boasts over 30 years of experience in the fields of government reform and conflict resolution. She touts a comprehensive 7-track strategy for achieving the goals of her platform: Fix government, build peace.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Ordained Bishop and God-First Man of Faith
Independent Presidential Candidate 2016Bishop Julian Lewis, Jr.
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Having spent most of his life in the service of God, Julian Lewis, Jr places his faith before all else. He believes that the will of God can and does inform a leader's policy decisions, and he has even spoken unfavorably about the separation of Church and State.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Former CIA operative, businessman, House Chief Policy Director
Independent Presidential Candidate 2016Evan McMullin
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Evan McMullin is not in the race to win. He cast his hat into the presidential election ring for one reason and one reason alone: to provide a voting outlet for conservatives who refuse to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and hesitates to throw their vote to other third-party candidates such as Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson or Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party. McMullin’s candidacy presents a chance for anti-Trump Republicans to disassociate themselves for the party’s nominee while holding true to their conservative ideals.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Water Treatment Operator (Retired)
2016 Independent Presidential CandidateJames C. Mitchell, Jr.
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Jim Mitchell, Jr is a pro-life, pro-gun rights conservative from Illinois. He's got a bone to pick with crime, and his methods are as novel as they are aggressive: mandatory military service for young people to starve off gang recruitment, and free government-distributed narcotics to collapse the illegal drug trade.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Middle-Class Working Person
Independent Presidential Candidate 2016Perry Morcom
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Perry Morcom is no fan of the Electoral College; the Texas working man wants it eliminated, and the President chosen strictly by popular vote. He's also against congressmen and Senators serving more than eight years in office. Driven by compassion, he wants to help rather than deport illegal immigrants.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Educator and Man Of Faith
2016 Independent Presidential CandidateMark Pendleton
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Mark Pendelton is a man of the people and a person of great faith. He has stumbled and made common mistakes, and that gives him the ability to connect with ordinary Americans. His mantra is “give me one term and I will put the government back in the hands of the people.”

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Independent Presidential Candidate 2016Jeremiah Pent
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Without going into details, Jeremiah Pent speaks at length about solving the nation's problems, especially social disunity and the staggering national debt. Like many other independents and third-party candidates, he worries that the Republicans and Democrats have become too powerful.

Declared 2016 Humane Party Presidential Candidate
Humane Party Nominee
2016 Humane Party Presidential CandidateClifton Roberts
  Potential 2016 Humane Party Candidate

Representing the Humane party, Clifton Roberts is all about animal rights. He himself is a vegan, and believes in banning the slaughter of animals for food. He also supports sustainable energy, environmental protection policies, and an end to the death penalty, among other left-wing initiatives.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Wall Street finance expert and serial entrepreneur
2016 Independent Candidate Scott Smith
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

With extensive experience working with money on Wall Street, as well as a prolific businessman, Scott Smith wishes to enact economic policies that veer right even of most dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. His goals are dubious, but his confidence is unshakable.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Citizen, entrepreneur, advocate for equal treatment for all
Independent Presidential CandidateSamm Tittle
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Samm Tittle is an advocate for everything that made America great. As an experienced entrepreneur, Tittle understands that when given a job and an equal playing field, an individual can achieve great things. As a citizen politician, she believes in truth in government and equal rights for all.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Bus Driver
2016 Independent Presidential CandidateBenjamin Weigel
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Benjamin Weigel is a Marine who saw action in Iraq, and retired from service due to his injuries. He remains strongly pro-military and believes the nation would be best served by a President who has served – which, he notes, most of Congress has not done. He is a right-of-center candidate.

Declared 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
Veteran and former Gymnast
Independent Presidential CandidateTerry W. Wheelock
  Potential 2016 Independent Candidate

Terry Wheelock is a former competitive gymnast who believes he's got the moves to be the next president. He's his own candidate, running on a platform that fits on neither the left nor right side of the political spectrum – instead, he borrows ideas from each.

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The 2016 Presidential Election is unlike any seen in recent times. In fact, it may well be the most important since 1860, for one very simple reason. The 45th President could potentially be selecting up to four new Supreme Court Justices to replace the aging Ruth Bader Ginsburg (82), Anthony Kennedy (79), Stephen Breyer (77) and recently deceased Antonin Scalia - almost half of the nine-person lineup of the United States Supreme Court. With a historical 25-year average tenure, these lifetime appointments will directly determine the political, ideological and socioeconomic direction of the country for the next three decades, and indirectly thereafter.

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 2016 Democratic Convention
Monday, July 25, 2016  |  United Together

Tuesday, July 26, 2016  |  A Lifetime Of Fighting ...

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Monday, July 18, 2016  |  Make America Safe Again

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Presidential Election
Pawel Kuczynski
To preserve freedom of political expression, the electorate must be both free to choose and adequately informed. There are over 1000 presidential candidates registered with the FEC for the 2016 election. Most of these officially declared candidates are marginalized or completely ignored by mainstream media and lack the benefit of unlimited spending by Super PAC’s.

We profile all official candidates, from all political parties, on a level platform. Some may be nutcases, but most are respectable individuals with legitimate positions on the issues. Any officially registered candidates not included may be fictitious, or have insufficient available information from which to build a profile.

We don’t know if any of these candidates would make a better president than a career politician, just as there's no guarantee that any of the 2016 campaign promises will actually be kept.

Word of mouth and today's web of social networks empower 'We the People' to promote a candidate more effectively than any media conglomerate, and subsequently scrutinize their every detail in thousands of national online platforms.

Take a look at the candidates, visit their websites and if you find them worthy of being given a chance, share their candidacy with friends and family.

May the best person win!

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