With all the talk about Democrat Barack Obama versus Republican John McCain this election season, it’s easy to forget there are other candidates running for president, too.
Local Libertarians say they aren’t fond of the ideas put forth by either Obama or McCain and hope that people will choose to vote for the candidate that reflects their beliefs, even if he or she doesn’t represent a major political party.
"Both the two-party candidates are no good," said Hall County Libertarian Travis Jones. "I’d go so far as to call them evil. Voting for the lesser of those two evils is still voting for evil."
Libertarians are very conservative on the political spectrum and believe in smaller government influence, lower taxes and greater personal freedom.
Kerry Stewart, a Libertarian and political science professor at Gainesville State College, said he won’t support McCain or Obama.
"Vote for that individual that represents your values," Stewart tells his students. "If more people actually voted what they believe ... maybe the Democrats and Republicans would pay more attention."
Other candidates running for president this year who have qualified to be on the ballot in many states include Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party; Bob Barr, Libertarian Party; Cynthia McKinney, Green Party; and Ralph Nader, independent.
Barr’s name is on the ballot in Georgia and 47 other states. He is not on the ballot in Oklahoma, which only lists Obama and McCain, and West Virginia, which lists a number of write-in and certified candidates, including Santa Claus, according to the Project Vote Smart Web site.
Baldwin’s name will appear on the ballot in 37 states, McKinney in 32 states, and Ralph Nader in 45 states. All three have qualified as write-in candidates in many states where they do not appear on the ballot, including Georgia. The designation means that if a voter writes in Baldwin, McKinney or Nader for president, those votes will be counted.
Stewart said though he considered voting for McCain early on in the election season, he will now cast his vote for Barr, a former Georgia congressman.
"I liked him when he was an actual maverick," Stewart said of McCain. "It’s very difficult to be a maverick and solidify your party base."
Stewart said he doesn’t like Obama either because he think’s he’s too liberal.
"He’s presented some possible views that he believes will lead the American people in the right direction. I personally think they’re far too socialist in nature because he wants to ‘spread the wealth,’ as he told the plumber," Stewart said, referring to the now famous "Joe the Plumber" who was cited frequently in the third presidential debate.
Jones, who supported Texas congressman Ron Paul in the Republican primary election, said he likely will vote for Barr as well.
Jones said he agrees a little bit with each of the main party candidates, but feels Barr best represents his beliefs. He also is considering voting for Baldwin.
"McCain says some pretty good things about the free market, and letting it work and not over-regulating it. I agree with a lot of that," Jones said. "I agree with Obama a little bit on the war stuff. He’s more peaceful minded. ...Not only do we (Libertarians) want liberty for Americans but we want liberty for everyone. It’s not our position in the world to say that we should impose our ideologies on other countries."
But both Jones and Stewart said they are not completely satisfied with Barr, either.
Barr, a former Republican, has a past that doesn’t sit well with some Libertarians.
Stewart said he doesn’t like that Barr voted for the Patriot Act and supported the war on drugs, both of which go against Libertarian ideology.
"He’d been associated with the Republican Party and voted several ways that I totally disagreed with at the time," Stewart said.
Because America is so deeply rooted in a two-party political system, some third-party candidates can be viewed as spoilers, meaning they take votes away from the major-party candidate who most closely aligns with their platform.
Many feel that Barr could pull votes away from McCain.
Stewart said people should not feel pressured to choose between just Democrats and Republicans.
"If it acts as a spoiler, the individual that the vote was taken away from wasn’t doing what they profess to be doing. If they’re supposed to be standing up for all the people and somebody says, ‘No, I want to vote for this person instead because he more fits what I believe in’ that’s not a spoiler; that’s an actual individual voting for the right reason. That’s a cop out for the Democrats and Republicans," Stewart said. "Vote for the right reasons."