Although minor parties—often called “third parties” to distinguish them from the dominant two—have always been a part of American politics, the dissatisfaction with the Republican and Democratic parties in the past few election seasons has led some Christians to give them more consideration than usual. To help Christians think about voting in a way that will most benefit the welfare of our nation (Jer. 29:7), this series will provide, without commentary, an outline of various minor party platforms as they relate to several social issues.
Unfortunately, because there are roughly 50 minor political parties in America this series will not be able to cover them all, so we’ll focus only on the American Solidarity Party, the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Green Party. (See the end of this article for an explanation of why these four were chosen.)
In covering these platforms there are two issues to note.
First, unlike with the two major parties, the nominees of the minor parties often have no direct control over their party’s platform. For this reason, the positions held by the particular presidential candidates may differ radically from the positions held by the party. Second, minor parties tend to focus more on broad principles than specific policy prescriptions. This is especially true when it comes to social issues. Wherever possible, I’ll try to highlight the direct policy positions. Otherwise I’ll attempt to summarize their underlying philosophy on a public policy area.
Here are the positions of the Libertarian Party as outlined in their 2020 Platform:
• Believes that all individuals have the right to “exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.”
• Supports a general “the right to life” and the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others by government. [NB: The way the LP uses the phrase “right to life” is not the same as the way the term is used by anti-abortion groups. See the section on bioethics.]
• Supports a broad-based “right to liberty of speech and action.”
• Opposes all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press.
• Opposes government censorship in any form.
• Supports a broad-based “right to property” and opposes all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain.
• Supports laws that prohibit robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.
• Opposes any government interference in areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals.
• Opposes any requirement that forces individuals to “sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others.”
• Opposes any initiation of force by any individual, group, or government against any other individual, group, or government.
• Supports the concept of “self-ownership”—that individuals “own their bodies” and have rights over them that other individuals, groups, and governments may not violate.
• Neither supports nor opposes abortion: “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”
• Opposes any government abridgement of any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation.
• Support ending “government’s practice of spying on everyone.”
• Supports the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, property, and communications.
• Supports protection from “unreasonable search and seizure” of records held by third parties, such as email, medical, and library records.
• Opposes the government’s use of secret classifications to keep from the public “information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.”
• Supports the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.
• Supports allowing members of private organizations retain their “rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate,” and states that “individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts, and other free market solutions.”
Criminal Justice Reform
• Supports limiting laws to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm.
• Supports the repeal of all laws creating “crimes without victims,” such as gambling, the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes, and consensual transactions involving sexual services.”
• Supports restitution to the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer.
• Support preserving the constitutional rights of the criminally accused, including due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
• Supports the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law (i.e., support jury nullification).
• Opposes the prosecutorial practice of “over-charging” in criminal prosecutions “so as to avoid jury trials by intimidating defendants into accepting plea bargains.”
• Opposes the administration of the death penalty by the state.
• Opposes the use of torture and other cruel and unusual punishments, without exception.
• Supports restoring authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government.
• Support giving parents control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.
• Supports requiring a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights and responsibilities regarding resources like land, water, air, and wildlife.
• Supports restitution to the injured parties where environmental damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law.
Family Policy Issues
• Supports allowing parents or other guardians to “have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs, provided that the rights of children to be free from abuse and neglect are also protected.”
• Supports a “free market health care system.”
• Supports the “freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions.”
• Supports allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines.
• Supports full freedom of expression and opposes government censorship, regulation, or control of communications media and technology.
• Supports the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that “does not violate the rights of others.”
• Opposes government actions which “either aid or attack any religion.”
• Opposes allowing sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity having any impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration, or military service laws.
• Opposes allowing the government to have the authority to define, promote, license, or restrict personal relationships, regardless of the number of participants.
• Supports allowing consenting adults to be “free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.”
• Supports allowing government to grant marriage licenses to all consenting adults who apply (“Until such time as the government stops its illegitimate practice of marriage licensing”).
• Supports the decriminalization of prostitution.
• Supports the “right of consenting adults to provide sexual services to clients for compensation, and the right of clients to purchase sexual services from consenting sex workers.”
To narrow the list, I selected minor parties who had presidential candidates with ballot access to at least 50 electoral votes in the 2020 election. That eliminated all but six minor parties: the American Solidarity Party, the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Alliance Party, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
I excluded the Alliance Party because they do not have a party platform and take few positions on social issues relevant to TGC readers. I excluded the Party for Socialism and Liberation because their radical positions on abortion (e.g., “The right to contraception, birth control and abortion services will not be restricted in any way, nor will there be any restriction on a woman’s right to decide to have children or not. Abortion services will be available free and on demand.”) and sexuality (e.g., “No law or measure will give preference in word or in deed that favors heterosexual relationships over other relationships.”) are unlikely to make the party of interest to TGC readers.
The Gospel Coalition