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 Green Party as outlined in their 2020 platform:
• The Green Platform presents “an eco-social analysis and vision for our country.”
• The four pillars of the party are Peace (“Our country’s long wars and worldwide military presence are immoral and unsustainable. Our military budget must be cut dramatically.”; Ecology (“The human cost of climate change is too high. We need to get off fossil fuels and on to renewable energy.”); Social Justice (“Falling wages and rising bills are hitting most of us, and the most vulnerable are hit the hardest. We demand a living wage and a real safety net.”); and Democracy (“We demand public financing of elections, open debates, and more representative voting systems.”).
• The “Ten Key Values” of the Green Party are: Grassroots democracy; Social justice and equal opportunity; Ecological wisdom; Non-violence; Decentralization; Community-based economics; Feminism and gender equity; Respect for diversity; Personal and global responsibility; and Future focus and sustainability.
• Supports government funding and support for family planning, contraception, and abortion in all countries that request it.
• Supports making the “morning-after” pill “affordable and easily accessible without a prescription.”
• Supports a government-sponsored public relations campaign to educate women about the “morning-after” pill.
• Supports requiring health clinics to provide both “consultation about abortion” and to perform abortions regardless of age or marital status.
• Opposes all age restrictions on abortion.
• Supports requiring abortion to be included in all health-insurance policies in the United States.
• Supports requiring state governments to “legally offer [abortion and contraceptive] services free of charge to women at the poverty level.”
• Supports requiring public health agencies operating abroad to be allowed to offer abortion in all countries that asks for that “service.”
• Opposes “our government’s habit of cutting family planning funds when those funds go to agencies in foreign countries that give out contraceptive devices, offer advice on abortion, and perform abortions.”
• Supports an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that states, “The rights established by this Constitution and the laws of the United States of America are exclusively the rights of living, breathing humans, citizens of this country or residing therein. No corporation or other type of association or organization can have the status of a “legal person” and thus cannot derive rights from such status.”
• Opposes censorship in the arts, media, press and on the Internet.
• Supports the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act.
• Supports strict enforcement of the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly, association, and petition.
• Supports ending “illegal government spying, including the use of warrantless wiretaps.”
• Support students’ constitutional rights to free speech.
• Supports ensuring that government actions toward immigrants comply with our Constitution and universal human-rights principles.
• Supports strict Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.
• Supports ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
• Supports U.S. passage of CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
• Supports full legal and political equality for all persons regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity, characteristics, and expression.
Criminal Justice Reform
• Supports ending torture, “such as in prisons like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other U.S.-controlled facilities.”
• Supports ending the use of indefinite detention without trial.
• Supports legislation where offenders must pay compensation to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) people who have suffered violence and injustice.
• Supports prosecution of hate crimes based on religious affiliation or practice.
• Supports freeing all non-violent incarcerated prisoners.
• Supports providing treatment to parolees and probationers who fail a drug test instead of re-incarceration.
• Supports increased funding for rape and domestic violence prevention and education programs.
• Supports releasing prisoners with diagnosed mental disorders to secure mental-health treatment centers.
• Opposes housing juvenile offenders with adults.
• Supports ensuring prison conditions are humane and sanitary, including but are limited to heat, light, exercise, clothing, nutrition, libraries, possessions, and personal safety.
• Supports meeting prisoners’ dietary requirements.
• Supports ensure availability of psychological, drug, and medical treatment, including access to condoms and uninterrupted access to all prescribed medication for prisoners.
• Supports establishing and enforcing prison policies that “discourage racism, sexism, homophobia and rape.”
• Supports a ban on private prisons.
• Supports a moratorium on prison construction.
• Supports ensuring that all prisoners have the opportunity to obtain a General Education Diploma (i.e. high-school equivalency diploma) and higher education.
• Supports ensuring the “First Amendment rights of prisoners, including the right to communicate with journalists, write letters, publish their own writings, and become legal experts on their own cases.”
• Supports providing prisoners the right to vote by absentee ballot in the district of their domicile, and the right to vote during parole.
• Supports restoring the right to hold public office to felons who have completed their prison sentence.
• Opposes the death penalty.
• Supports repealing “three strikes” laws.
• Supports a prohibition on property forfeiture and denial of due process for unconvicted suspects.
• Supports establishing freedom on bail as a right of all defendants charged with non-violent crimes.
• Supports increased compensation for jurors and provide childcare for those serving jury duty.
• Supports the legalization, possession, sale, and cultivation of cannabis/marijuana.
• Supports striking from the record prior felony convictions for marijuana possession, sale, or cultivation.
• Supports granting amnesty and release from confinement without any further parole or probation, those who have been incarcerated for the use, sale, or cultivation of marijuana in federal and state prisons and in county/city jails, and who otherwise are without convictions for victim oriented crimes, or who do not require treatment for abuse of hard drugs.
• Supports providing the option for drug treatment to those leaving confinement.
• Supports implementing a step-by-step program to decriminalize all drugs in the United States.
• Supports requiring all police officers to carry professional liability insurance as a requirement to working on the police force.
• Supports establishing a national database to record excessive force complaints, to be used in hiring decisions of police officers.
• Supports ending all standardized testing.
• Supports ending all federal competitive grants like Race to the Top (RTTT).
• Supports ending “charter-friendly, unproven alternative teaching licensing.”
• Supports free college tuition to all qualified students at public universities and vocational schools.
• Supports abolishing all student and parent loans taken out to finance post-secondary and vocational education.
• Opposes the administration of public schools by private, for-profit entities.
• Supports increased funding for after-school and daycare programs.
• Supports a “diverse set of educational opportunities, including multilingual education, continuing education, job retraining, distance learning, mentoring and apprenticeship/vocational programs.”
• Supports provide children with disabilities a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment (as inclusive as possible).
• Supports giving K-12 classroom teachers “professional status and salaries commensurate with advanced education, training and responsibility.”
• Supports teaching non-violent conflict resolution and humane education at all levels of education.
• Supports implementing and fully-funding restorative justice programs as an alternative to suspension and police referral.
• Supports providing “age-appropriate education on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and safer sex.”
• Supports prohibiting advertising to children in schools.
• Supports farm-to-school programs that provide food from local family farms and educational opportunities.
• Supports a ban on the sale of “soda pop and junk food” in schools.
• Opposes military and corporate control over the “priorities and topics of university academic research.”
• Supports expanding opportunities for universal higher education and life-long learning.
• Supports expanding arts education and physical education opportunities at school.
• Supports home-based education and supports working-class parents who wish to offer it to their children.
• Opposes efforts to “restrict the teaching of scientific information and the portrayal of religious belief as fact.”
• Supports providing adequate academic and vocational education and training to prisoners.
• Supports decreasing the student-teacher ratio in classrooms and increase the number of counselors, nurses, librarians and social workers.
• Supports making all public education sites gun-free.
• Supports including self-defense skills in the physical education curriculum at elementary school level
• Supports researched-based drug, tobacco, and alcohol abuse prevention, as well as evidence-based information about the true effect of recreational or medicinal substances such as cannabis on the developing brain.
• Supports including curricula focusing on civil-rights history, actions, and advances, and how current law can be used to achieve personal civil rights.
• Supports teaching “all students about white supremacy and intersectionality.”
• Supports elimination of JROTC programs.
• Supports eliminating ASVAB testing in public schools.
• Supports forbidding military access to student records.
[Because the party’s platform on this issue is so extensive and detailed (the section alone contains 11,411 words), the following includes only select highlights.]
• Support enacting an “emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete.”
• Supports treating energy as a “human right.”
• Supports ending “destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines.”
• Supports ending industrialized agriculture methods, including monocropping, reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and the use of confined animal operations.
• Supports converting our food producing systems to small-scale organic, regenerative agriculture (agroecology) systems.
• Supports phasing out all avoidable production and sale of toxic metals, persistent organic pollutants, persistent bio-accumulative toxins, synthetic petrochemicals, and halogenated chemicals.
• Opposes the privatization of water and demand that the U.S. government pass strong laws with effective enforcement mechanisms to assure a safe and adequate supply of water for its citizens and all life within its borders.
• Supports ending the abuse of animals, including farm animals, and strengthen our enforcement of existing laws.
• Supports a prohibition on large-scale commercial breeding facilities, such as “puppy mills,” because of the massive suffering, overpopulation, and ill health such facilities produce.
Family Policy Issues
• Supports and seeks to expand Head Start and pre- and neo-natal programs.
• Supports a “Children’s Agenda” be put in place to “focus attention and concerted action on the future that is our children.”
• Supports a universal, federally funded childcare program for pre-school and young schoolchildren.
• Supports increasing family assistance such as the earned income tax credit.
• Supports a “living family wage.”
• Supports a prohibition on commercial advertising targeted to children younger than 12 years old, as well as advertising in public places such as schools, parks, and government buildings.
• Supports ending all federal military aid to national governments whose laws result in the death, other harm, or imprisonment of its citizens and residents who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA).
• Supports a policy that the U. S. government recognize all same-sex marriages or legal equivalents such as civil unions, in processing visitor and immigration visas.
• Supports immediate and direct access to all identifying birth, hospital, foster care and adoption agency records and files concerning the adult adoptee (including the original adoption plans and any contracts that pertain to the adoptee or in which they are mentioned) to assist with researching their genealogy, medical history and the truth regarding the circumstances surrounding their adoptions and, if applicable, their time in foster care.
• Supports strict financial penalties when birth/adoption records have been lost or destroyed while under the care of agencies, hospitals, lawyers, and so on that have assumed the responsibility of storing these vital records.
• Supports full reparations for “historical injustices in adoption.”
• Supports a federally funded entitlement program to support children, families, the unemployed, elderly and disabled, with no time limit on benefits.
The Green Party states that young people should have the following rights:
- Youth are not the property of their parents or guardians, but are under their care and guidance.
- Youth have the right to survive by being provided adequate food, shelter and comprehensive health care, including prenatal care for mothers.
- Youth have the right to be protected from abuse, harmful drugs, violence, environmental hazards, neglect, and exploitation.
- Youth have the right to develop in a safe and nurturing early environment provided by affordable childcare and pre-school preparation.
- Youth have the right to an education that is stimulating, relevant, engaging, and that fosters their natural desire to learn.
- Young people’s creative potential should be encouraged to the greatest extent possible.
- Young people should have input into the direction and pace of their own education, including input into the operation of their educational institutions.
- Young people should be provided with education regarding their own and others’ sexuality at the earliest appropriate time.
- Young people should be provided the opportunity to express themselves in their own media, including television, radio, films and the internet. Young people should also be given skills in analyzing commercial media.
- Young people should be kept free from coercive advertising at their educational institutions.
• Supports single-payer universal health care and preventive care for all.
• Supports the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children.
• Supports a call for effective collaborative relationships between sending and receiving countries, including the United States.
• Supports a call for studies analyzing and connecting the role of globalization in trafficking.
• Supports enforcement of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (HR 3244).
• Supports U.S. constitutional guarantees for freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and that there shall be no religious test for public office.
• Supports eliminating federal, state, and local laws that discriminate against particular religious beliefs or non-belief.
• Supports ending “faith-based initiatives and charitable choice programs, whereby public funds are used to support religious organizations that may not adhere to specified guidelines and standards, including anti-discrimination laws.”
• Supports elimination of displays of religious symbols, monuments, or statements on government buildings, property, websites, money, or documents.
• Supports removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
• Supports ending faith-based initiatives and charitable choice programs, whereby “public funds are used to support religious organizations that do not adhere to specified guidelines and standards, including anti-discrimination laws.”
• Supports ending religiously based curricula in government-funded public schools.
• Supports ending governmental use of the “doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults.”
• Supports ending the use of religion as “a justification to deny children necessary medical care or subject them to physical and emotional abuse.”
• Supports ending the “use of religion by government to define the role and rights of women in our society.”
• Supports revocation of the congressional charter of the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization’s beliefs.
• Supports federal legislation to make prostitution modeled on the Swedish law passed in 1999. (That law criminalizes the purchase of services from prostitutes, pimps, and brothel keepers instead of criminalizing the prostitutes.)
• Supports the rights of all individuals to freely choose intimate partners, regardless of their sex, gender, or gender identity.
• Supports adding “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” to the existing Civil Rights Act.
• Supports the right of all persons to self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex.
• Supports the right of “choosing non-binary and gender fluid identification.”
• Supports students having easy access to condoms, gloves, and dams in schools.
• Supports “peer education for sex workers and those who may share needles, and to supply them with condoms, dams, gloves, and needles & syringes.”
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, and are broadly similar to the Green Party.
The Gospel Coalition