The Democratic and the Republican parties dominate US politics to such an extent that the whole world is acquainted with them, their candidates and most of those who failed to win the nomination. What divides the big two?
President Barack Obama
Vice President Joe Biden
The sitting president is defending his record and, given that the economy is still struggling to recover, promising that things will get better. Pluses: killing Osama bin Laden, withdrawing from Iraq. Minuses: the shaky state of Afghanistan, some demoralised supporters but, above all, 12 million unemployed.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
Congressman Paul Ryan
The Republican candidate is criticising Obama from the right but seems unsure just how far right. Pluses: Obama’s 12 million unemployed, promises to cut taxes, highly motivated right-wing activists who mobilise the vote. Minuses: Flip-flops, gaffes, highly motivated right-wing activists who frighten floating voters.
Although it’s hard to believe from most election coverage, the Obama/Romney tickets are not the only ones.
Over 150 people have declared themselves candidates to be the US president. That doesn’t mean they will get on the ballot paper anywhere. Candidates have to win enough backing to be placed on the ballot paper state by state or, failing that, the right to have voters write their names on it.
Green candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, were arrested on 17 October while protesting that they were excluded from the prime-time TV debates and that media coverage pre-judged the result by excluding any third-party candidates.
After that the four third-party candidates who have won the right to stand in the highest number of states took part in a debate that gave them a little of the media attention they craved.
Former Superior Court Judge Jim Gray
When governor of New Mexico Johnson vetoed almost half the bills the state legislature passed, mainly to keep state spending down. In power he would scrap the Internal Revenue Service and income tax. He would also slash defence spending and legalise marijuana and gay marriage. On the ballot in 48 states.
Dr. Jill Stein
Stein ran against Romney for Massachussetts governor, winning 3.49 per cent of the vote. Wants a Green New Deal, that creates jobs in environmentally friendly small industries, amnesty for undocumented immigrants, a ban on home foreclosures, less defence spending and universal health-care coverage. On the ballot in 38 states.
Former Congressman Virgil Goode
Goode, a former Congressman for both the Democrats and the Republicans, joined his current party in 2010. Wants to deploy troops and fences to stop immigrants crossing the Mexican border, scrap Obama’s health-care programme and pull troops out of Afghanistan. Opposes free trade deals and would replace income tax and estate tax with a sales transaction tax. On the ballot in 26 states.
Justice Party/Independence Party of Connecticut/Natural Law Party of Michigan:
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson
Former Salt Lake City mayor Anderson set up the Justice Party in 2010. Quit the Democratic Party, claiming it was too like the Republicans. Wanted to impeach former president George W Bush for starting the Iraq war and prosecute alleged torturers under his administration. Supports green policies, a tax on financial transactions and a single-payer health-care system.
On the ballot in 15 states.
Other candidates who have won the right to appear on the ballot in more than one state are:
America's Party/American Independent Party:
Right-wing Christian. Supports capitalism, the right to bear arms. Opposes abortion, gay marriage, federal income tax.
American Third Position Party:
“Neither ‘left’ nor ‘right’,” according to their platform, but racist.
Wants to balance budgets “sooner rather than later”, end illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration.
Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL):
Opposes racism, imperialism. Wants jobs as a constitutional rights, free health care and education, full rights for immigrants and abortion on demand. Seize the banks!
Peace & Freedom Party:
Another socialist candidate, the former sitcom star is “the only serious comedian in this campaign”, standing for “health care not health insurance”, legalising cannabis and ending war. Running mate Cindy Sheehan became an anti-war campaigner after losing son in Iraq.
Lowell "Jack" Fellure
“My Presidential Campaign Platform is the Authorized 1611 King James Bible … It shall never be necessary to change it.”
Reform Party USA:
Wants tariffs on imports, cuts in corporate tax, reduced health care costs, less foreign policy and fewer illegal immigrants.
Socialist Party USA (SP-USA)/Liberty Union Party:
Alejandro "Alex" Mendoza
Support Occupy, scrap the Patriot Act. "You cannot simply regulate the weed of capitalism by chopping off its leaves - you must pull it out by the root and replace it with something beneficial."
Socialist Equality Party:
Jerome "Jerry" White (Michigan)
Phyllis Scherrer (Pennsylvania)
More socialists. Internationalist, anti-imperialist, Trotskyist, pro-free health care and “social equality”. “Expropriate the banks and corporations.”
Socialist Workers Party (SWP):
Yet more socialists, internationalists, Trotskyists. “Put millions to work
building what we need.”
For a list of absolutely every candidate and links to their websites, visit http://www.politics1.com/p2012.