How will you vote? Democratic? Republican? Third Party? Or will you vote as an Independent and choose candidates based on their political platform, regardless of party affiliation? When it comes time to vote, most of us have chosen a candidate from one of the two primary parties, Democratic or Republican, and usually vote for the same party for each office, even if we don't vote a straight ticket ballot. But what about the lesser-known third parties? It might surprise you to know that there are nearly fifty recognized political parties sponsoring candidates for various offices. Remember - you don't have to vote for the same party for each office. For instance, if you're a Republican but are committed to voting for a Democratic candidate for the office of President in the 2020 Presidential Election, that doesn't mean that in the next general election you can't vote as an Independent and choose a Third Party, such as the Green Party, for the office of Governor in your state. Especially if the Green Party candidate better represents your beliefs and values on state issues. Or, if you want to see a new direction in the Presidential office and have decided to vote for a Democratic candidate in the 2020 Presidential Election, you can still vote for your current state Governor in the next general election, even if their affiliation is different. It's all about voting for the candidate that best reflects your views. Remember - no matter what way others are voting, when you step into the voting booth, it's completely confidential, and it's entirely up to you!

Primary Parties


There are two Primary Parties, Democratic and Republican.  These two parties, founded in the nineteenth century, are the most well-known of all the parties.  All of the other recognized political parties were founded in the twentieth century, except for  the Socialist Party, which was  formed in 1877. 


The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, the other being the Republican Party. The party under its present name was established by Andrew Jackson in 1828, but it traces its origins to Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in 1792. It is, along with Great Britain's Conservative Party, one of the two oldest political parties in the world.  Currently, the Democratic Party is the minority party in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Democrats control 19 state legislatures and 22 governorships. Since 1896, the Democrats have been the more liberal major party (in the modern American sense of the word, i.e. center-left). The pro-working class, activist philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt has shaped much of the party's agenda since 1933; his New Deal coalition controlled the national government into the 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, championed by the party despite opposition at the time from its conservative Southern wing, has continued to inspire the party's ideas and principles. - From Wikipedia

Symbol: Donkey
Color:   BLUE
Ideology:   Liberal
Definition:   "Pertaining to the principle of political or social equality for all; advocating democracy."
Presidents:   Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden.


The Republican Party (often referred to as the GOP, for "Grand Old Party") is one of the two major political parties in the United States' two-party system, along with the Democratic Party. In the modern political era, the Republican Party has been the more socially conservative and economically libertarian of the two major parties. The Republican Party was established in 1854 by a coalition of former Whigs, Northern Democrats, and Free-Soilers who opposed the expansion of slavery and held a vision for modernizing the United States. The party initially had its base in the Northeast and Midwest, but in recent decades it has increasingly shifted to the inland West and the South. Since the party fielded its first presidential candidate, John C. Frémont, in 1856, 18 of the 29 United States Presidents have been Republicans, including current President George W. Bush. It holds 28 out of 50 governorships, and controls 20 state legislatures compared to the Democratic Party's 19. Since 1995, the Republicans have held majorities in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, except for brief periods of Democratic Party majority in the Senate from January 3-20, 2001 and from June 6, 2001 to November 12, 2002. - From Wikipedia

Symbol: Elephant
Color:   RED
Ideology:   Conservative
Definition:   "Pertaining to, or of the nature of, a republic; favoring a republican form of government."
Presidents:   Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Donald Trump.

Third Parties:

There are nearly fifty Third Parties, all founded in the twentieth century, except for  the Socialist Party, which was  formed in 1877.  The formation of Third Parties generally sprang from feelings of disenchantment and disassociation from a particular party and the desire for a new party more in accord with the disenfranchised individuals' belief system.  Third Parties run the gamut from promoting peace, such as the Green Party, to hailing hatred, such as the American Nazi Party.  Although some parties may be offensive to many, the vast majority of the widely ranged spectrum of representation is good intentioned, as you'll see below.  (Wikipedia        

The America First Party was founded in 2002 by a large group of arch-conservative "Buchanan Brigade" defectors who splintered away from the declining Reform Party to form this uncompromisingly social conservative and fair trade party (with a strong foundation in the Religious Right movement). The AFP vows to "protect our people and our sovereignty ... promote economic growth and independence ... encourage the traditional values of faith, family, and responsibility ... ensure equality before the law in protecting those rights granted by the Creator ... [and] to clean up our corrupted political system." Within months of the AFP's founding, the AFP fielded a few candidates and established affiliates in nearly 20 states -- and they hoped to be organized in nearly all 50 states by the end of 2003. Within a year, however, those hopes were dashed. The AFP's national leaders all resigned in mid-2003 after a radical group affiliated with ultra-right militia movement leader Bo Gritz purportedly grabbed control of key party elements for a short while. In addition to Gritz, pre-existing financial problems and personality divisions within the party also contributed to the AFP's rapid collapse. The party failed to nominate any candidates in 2004, and has been almost totally inactive since then. One AFP faction, based in Iowa, vowed in 2006 to start rebuild the party.

Governor George C. Wallace (D-AL) founded the AIP and ran as the its first Presidential nominee in 1968. Running on a fiery populist, right-wing, anti-Washington, anti-racial integration, anti-communist platform, Wallace carried nearly 10 million votes (14%) and won 5 Southern states. Although Wallace returned to the Democratic Party by 1970, the AIP continued to live on -- but moved even further to the right. The 1972 AIP nominee, John Birch Society leader and Congressman John G. Schmitz (R-CA), carried nearly 1.1 million votes (1.4%). The 1976 AIP Presidential nominee was former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, an unrepentant segregationist -- but he fell far below Schmitz's vote total. The AIP last fielded its own national Presidential candidate in 1980, when they nominated white supremacist ex-Congressman John Rarick (D-LA) -- who carried only 41,000 votes nationwide. The AIP still fields local candidates in a few states -- mainly California -- but is now merely a state affiliate party of the national Constitution Party. For the past several presidential elections, the AIP simply co-nominated the Constitution Party's Presidential nominee.

The ARP, formerly known as the National Reform Party Committee, splintered away from Ross Perot's Reform Party in 1997. The ARP chafed at Perot's heavy-handed desire to maintain total control over the RP. In 1998, the ARP fielded some candidates for state and federal offices in "Reform Party" primaries against candidates backed by Perot's Reform Party with mixed results. The ARP soon shifted left and opted to "endorse" (but not co-nominate) Green Party Presidential nominee Ralph Nader in the 2000 elections. Since then, the ARP has become virtually invisible on the political scene -- fielding only four state/local candidates nationwide in 2002 (plus co-endorsing several other third party candidates) and no Presidential candidate in 2004. The ARP vows to rebuild, and launched a few new state affiliate parties since 2004.

The CPUSA, once the slavish propaganda tool and spy network for the Soviet Central Committee, has experienced a forced transformation in recent years. Highly classified Soviet Politburo records, made public after the fall of Soviet communism in the 1990s, revealed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) illegally funneled millions of dollars to the CPUSA to finance its activities from the 1920s to the 1980s. The flow of Soviet dollars to the CPUSA came to an abrupt halt when the Soviet communists were ousted from power in 1991 -- ultimately causing a retooling of CPUSA activities. Founded in 1924, the CPUSA reached its peak vote total in 1932 with nominee William Z. Foster (102,000 votes - 4th place). The last national CPUSA ticket -- headed by Gus Hall and Angela Davis -- was fielded in 1984 (36,000 votes - 8th place). While the party has not directly run any candidates since the late 1980s, the CPUSA sometimes backs some candidates in various local elections (often in Northeastern industrial communities) and engages in grassroots political and labor union organizing. In the 1998 elections, longtime CPUSA leader Hall actually urged party members to vote for all of the Democratic candidates for Congress -- arguing that voting for any progressive third party candidates would undermine the efforts to oust the "reactionary" Republicans from control of Congress. As for issues, the CPUSA calls for free universal health care, elimination of the federal income tax on people earning under $60,000 a year, free college education, drastic cuts in military spending, "massive" public works programs, the outlawing of "scabs and union busting," abolition of corporate monopolies, public ownership of energy and basic industries, huge tax hikes for corporations and the wealthy, and various other programs designed to "beat the power of the capitalist class ... [and promote] anti-imperialist freedom struggles around the world." The CPUSA's underlying communist ideology hasn't changed much over the years, but the party's tactics have undergone a major shift (somewhat reminiscent of those used by the CPUSA in the late 1930s). After the death of Stalinist CPUSA leader Hall in 2000, Gorbachev-style "democratic reform communist" activist Sam Webb assumed leadership of the CPUSA. Related CPUSA websites include the People's Weekly World party newspaper, Political Affairs monthly party magazine, and the Young Communists League youth organization.

Former Nixon Administration official and one-time Conservative Coalition chair Howard Phillips founded the US Taxpayers Party (USTP) in 1992 as a potential vehicle for Pat Buchanan to use for a third party White House run -- had he agreed to bolt from the GOP in 1992 or 1996. The USTP pulled together several of the splintered right-wing third parties -- including the once mighty American Independent Party -- into a larger, more visible political entity. Renamed as the Constitution Party in 1999, the party is strongly pro-life, anti-gun control, anti-tax, anti-immigration, protectionist, "anti-New World Order," anti-United Nations, anti-gay rights, anti-welfare, pro-school prayer ... basically a hardcore Religious Right platform. When Buchanan stayed in the GOP, Phillips ran as the USTP nominee in 1992 (ballot status in 21 states - 43,000 votes - 0.04%), 1996 (ballot spots in 39 states - 185,000 votes - 6th place - 0.2%) -- and 2000 (ballot status in 41 states - 98,000 votes - 6th place - 0.1%). The party started fielding local candidates in 1994. Still, for a new third party attempting to grow, the party has fielded disappointingly few local candidates since 1998 (and the few they nominated have not performed well). The party received a brief boost in the media when conservative US Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire -- an announced GOP Presidential hopeful -- bolted from the Republican Party to seek the Constitution Party nomination in 2000 (although the erratic Smith quit the Constitution Party race a few weeks later, announced he would serve in the Senate as an Independent, and subsequently rejoined the GOP by the ebd of 2000). At the 1999 national convention, the party narrowly adopted a controversial change to its platform's preamble which declared "that the foundation of our political position and moving principle of our political activity is our full submission and unshakable faith in our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ" -- although the party officially invites "all citizens of all faiths" to become active in the party. Any national candidate seeking the party's nomination is explicitly required to tell the convention of any areas of disagreement with the party's platform. In Spring 2002, Pat Buchanan's 2000 VP runningmate Ezola Foster and many Reform Party leaders from California and Maryland defected to the Constitution Party, providing a nice boost to the party. Conservative attorney Michael Peroutka was the CP's 2004 Presidential nominee (ballot status in 36 states - 144,000 votes - 5th place - 0.1%). Immigration reform activist Jim Gilchrist -- a close ally of Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and founder of the controversial "Minuteman Project" civilian border patrols -- appears likely to be the party's 2008 nominee. The Constitution Party appear to have generally cemented their place as the third largest third party in the nation.

The FSP was formed in 1966 by a splinter group of dissident feminist Trotskyites who broke away from the Socialist Workers Party to create a new party in the "tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky." That's the reason they also refer to their entity as "Radical Women." The FSP describe themselves as a "revolutionary, socialist feminist organization, dedicated to the replacement of capitalist rule by a genuine workers' democracy that will guarantee full economic, social, political, and legal equality to women, people of color, gays, and all who are exploited, oppressed, and repelled by the profit system and its offshoot -- imperialism." The FSP has party organizations in the US, Canada and Australia. The FSP occasionally fields a handful of local candidates in Washington, California and New York (often in non-partisan elections) -- but has never fielded a Presidential candidate. Related FSP links include the Red Letter Press (book publishers).

The Green Party -- the informal US-affiliate of the leftist, environmentalist European Greens movement -- is one of the two largest third parties in the nation. The party regularly fields candidates for local, state and federal offices in many states, and has established active state affiliate parties in nearly all 50 states. The Greens scored a major political points when it convinced prominent consumer advocate Ralph Nader to run as their first Presidential nominee in 1996. Spending just over $5,000, Nader was on the ballot in 22 states and carried over 700,000 votes (4th place - 0.8%). In 2000, Nader raised millions of dollars, mobilized leftist activists and grabbed national headlines with his anti-corporate campaign message. Nader ignored pleas from liberal Democrats that he abandon the race because he was siphoning essential votes away from Al Gore's campaign -- answering that Gore was not substantially different than Bush and that his own campaign was about building a permanent third party. In the end, Nader was on the ballot in 44 states and finished third with 2,878,000 votes (2.7%) -- seemingly depriving Gore of wins in some key states. More significantly, Nader missed the important 5% mark for the national vote, meaning the party remained ineligible for federal matching funds in 2004. Until 2001, the Greens were largely a collection of fairly autonomous state/local based political entities with only a weak (and sometimes splintered) national leadership structure that largely served to coordinate electoral activities. That faction -- formerly named the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP) -- was the larger and more moderate of the two unrelated Green parties. The ASGP voted in 2001 to convert from an umbrella coordinating organization into a formal, unified national party organization. Nader made another run in 2004 -- but ran as an Independent. Nader picked a prominent Green leader as his VP runningmate, but Nader's backers were unable to secure the party's endorsement for his 2004 run. Instread, Green Party General Counsel David Cobb of Texas won the Presidential nomination (ballot status in 29 states - 120,000 votes - 6th place - 0.1%). Cobb argued the party needed to nominate a candidate who openly belonged to the party (note: Nader had never joined) and was pledged to building the party at the local level. Cobb ran what was called a "safe-states" strategy -- a controversial move whereby Cobb only made major efforts to gain votes in states where a strong Green showing would not compromise the ability of the Democratic nominee to defeat Bush in the state. Democrats appreciated the move, but it weakened Cobb's message. There is much buzz within the Greens of a desire to nominate a woman or person of color for President in 2008. Other official Green Party links include: Global Green Network, Campus Greens, National Women's Caucus, and Disability Caucus

After two years of openly feuding with Ross Perot's allies in the Reform Party, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and his supporters bolted from the party to launch the new Independence Party in 2000. In departing, While this splinter party shared the Reform Party's call for campaign finance and other political reforms, the IP shared Ventura disagreement with the more social conservative and trade protectionist views espoused by the Reform Party. The IP -- which describes itself as "Socially Inclusive and Fiscally Responsible" -- is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-medical marijuana, pro-gun rights and fiscally moderate. The IP has fielded crowded slates of Congressional and state candidates in Minnesota in every election since 2000. While Ventura initially said he wanted to take this Minnesota party national and possibly field a Presidential nominee in 2004, few chapter exist in other states and the party did not nominate a 2004 Presidential ticket (although the Illinois branch endorsed Nader). Ventura's retirement in 2002 was a blow to the IP, although former Democratic Congressman Tim Penny was a credible IP nominee for Minnesota Governor in 2002 (but finished a distant third). Also in 2002, IP co-founder Dean Barkley became the first IP member to serve in Congress when Ventura appointed him to the US Senate to complete the two months of a term left open by the death of incumbent Paul Wellstone (D). As for a national party organization, the Independence Party essentially doesn't have one. It seemingly consists of separately organized state affiliates with no central national leadership or organization to coordinate activities.

The small Independent American Party has existed for years in several Western states -- a remnant from the late Alabama Governor George Wallace's once-powerful American Independent Party of the 1968-72 era. Converting the unaffiliated IAP state party organizations -- united by a common Religious Right ideology (similar to the Constitution Party) -- into a national IAP organization was an effort started in 1998 by members of Utah IAP. The Idaho IAP and Nevada IAP subsequently affiliated with the fledgling US-IAP in late 1998 ... the party established small chapters in 15 other states since then ... and has contact persons now in all of the other states. The bulk of the IAP activities, however, remain generally concentrated in Utah. The various IAP state parties endorsed Constitution Party nominee Howard Phillips for President in 1996 and 2000. In December 2000, the IAP's national chairman issued a statement noting third parties in general registered a "dismal" performance in the Presidential election -- and questioned the IAP's future participation in Presidential campaigns. Instead, he suggested that the IAP limit itself to congressional, state and local races in the future. Since the 2002 elections, the IAP largely "adopts" conservative candidates from various other conservative parties (mainly the Constitution Party). Thus, as the party has attempted to grow as a network of activists, it has also largely withdrawn from actively fielding any IAP nominees for elective office.

The Labor Party is a liberal entity created in 1996 by a sizable group of labor unions including the United Mine Workers, the Longshoremen, American Federation of Government Employees, California Nurses Association and other labor union locals. The party explains it was formed because "on issues most important to working people -– trade, health care, and the rights to organize, bargain and strike -– both the Democrats and Republicans have failed working people." Ideologically, they seem close to the style of the late, labor-friendly Vice President Hubert Humphrey and US Senator Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party circa 1960s. The party seems closely aligned ideologically with the New Party. The Labor Party has adopted a policy of "running candidates for positions where they can help enact and enforce laws and policies to benefit the working class and where we can best advance the goals and priorities of the Labor Party." The party also gets involved in local and state ballot initiatives. The Labor Party holds national conventions and seems to be making an efforts to revive itself as a forum for political debates. The Labor Party endorsed its first state and federal candidates in 1998 in Wyoming ("Green/Labor Alliance") -- and two more candidates in local races in California and Ohio in 2001 -- but none during the 2002-2004 cycles. The party organized a state affiliate in South Carolina and attempted to gain ballot access for its candidates there in 2006. Labor Party rules do not allow the concept of endorsing "fusion" candidates from other parties, and they remain committed to only nominating candidates who actually belong to the Labor Party.

The LP, founded in 1971, bills itself as "America's largest third party" (and, along with the Greens, are definitely among the two largest third parties in the nation). The Libertarians are neither left nor right: they believe in total individual liberty (pro-drug legalization, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-home schooling, anti-gun control, etc.) and total economic freedom (anti-welfare, anti-government regulation of business, anti-minimum wage, anti-income tax, pro-free trade, etc.). The LP espouses a classical laissez faire ideology which, they argue, means "more freedom, less government and lower taxes." Over 400 LP members currently hold various -- though fairly low level -- government offices (including lots of minor appointed officials like "School District Facilities Task Force Member" and "Town Recycling Committee Member"). In any given election year, the LP fields more local and federal candidates than any other US third party -- although the LP has clearly been eclipsed by the Greens in size since 1996 in terms of having the largest third party following and garnering more media attention. Former 1988 LP Presidential nominee Ron Paul is now a Republican Congressman from Texas -- although Paul is still active with encouraging the LP. The LP's biggest problem: Ron Paul, former NM Governor Gary Johnson, humorist/journalist PJ O'Rourke, the Republican Liberty Caucus and others in the GOP are working to attract ideological libertarians into the political arena -- arguing they can bring about libertarian change more easily under the Republican label. LP Presidential nominee Ed Clark carried over 921,000 votes (1.1%) in 1980. Subsequent nominees for the next dozen years, though not as strong as Clark, typically ran ahead of most other third party candidates. The late financial consultant and author Harry Browne was the LP Presidential nominee in 1996 (485,000 votes - 5th place - 0.5%) and 2000 (386,000 votes - 5th place - 0.4%). Computer consulant and tax-resister Michael Badnarik was the LP Presidential nominee in 2004 (397,000 votes - 4th place - 0.3%). And, FYI, the LP typically obtains ballot status for the Presidential nominee in all 50 states. The LP also has active affiliate parties in every state. The party has been divided for years between two warring factions: a more purist/hardcore libertarian group and a more moderate "reform" faction. The hardcore group are uncompromising anarchistic-libertarians in the Ayn Rand mold. By contrast, the moderates are interested in focusing on only a handful of more popular issues (drug decriminalization, gun rights, tax cuts, etc.) in exchange for attracting a larger number of voters. Allies of the hardcore faction firmly held control of the party from the late-1980s until the moderates seized control at the 2006 national convention and gutted the party's original platform. Other related LP sites are: the Libertarian Party News (official LP newspaper) and the LPedia (official LP Wiki history site). The LP web site features a link to the World's Smallest Political Quiz -- designed by LP co-founder David Nolan -- and take the quiz to see if you're a libertarian (a bit simplistic, and slanted in favor of the LP, but interesting just the same).

The Light Party is a generally liberal party -- falling somewhere between the Greens and New Age feel of the now defunct Natural Law Party -- and seems strongly centered around party founder "Da Vid, M.D., Wholistic Physician, Human Ecologist & Artist" (he was also a write-in candidate for President in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 -- and seems to be the only visible leader of the party). This San Francisco-based party's platform promotes holistic medicine, national health insurance, organic foods, solar energy, nuclear disarmament and a flat tax. Da Vid claims the party has "millions" of supporters -- but he counts everyone who supports any position advocated by the party. In terms of votes, the party has nothing to show for all of Da Vid's White House runs. The party does not seriously seek to elect candidates but advance an agenda. Not that it has anything to do with politics, but the party does sell a nice CD of relaxing New Age music.

The Natural Law Party was a New Age entity founded and run by followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the founder of the TM movement -- a movement that some have labeled as a cult). The NLP -- under the slogan "Bringing the light of science into politics" and using colorful imagery -- advocated holistic approaches, Transcendental Meditation (TM), "yogic flying," and other peaceful "New Age" and "scientific" remedies for much of our national and international problems. The party ran nuclear physicist John Hagelin as the NLP Presidential nominee in 1992 (ballot status in 32 stares - 39,000 votes - 0.04%), 1996 (ballot status in 44 states - 7th place - 110,000 votes - 0.1%) and 2000 (ballot status in 39 stares - 7th place - 83,000 votes - 0.08%). The NLP also made a failed bid to capture control of the Reform Party in the course of the 2000 campaign -- working with the Perot forces to thwart Pat Buchanan's efforts -- although the NLP did attract some supporters from the breakaway factions within the disintegrating Reform Party. The NLP also made a brief grab for control of the Green Party, but that effort quickly fizzled. In 2002, the NLP tried a new strategy of stealthy infiltration by running NLP activists as candidates under various party labels including NLP, Democratic, Republican, Green and Libertarian. In 2003, the NLP endorsed the Presidential candidacy of Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Unexpectedly, the NLP suddenly shuttered its doors in mid-2004 and announced it was disolved as a national party. However -- and the reason the NLP remains posted here -- is that the NLP cut loose their various state affiliate parties to decide individually whether they also wished to disband or continue to function as independent state parties. It appears a few state NLP groups are still functioning as of 2006, with the Ohio NLP remaining the most active one. The NLP seems to have entirely abandoned using electoral politics to advance their agenda and, instead, are now advocating something they call the US Peace Government.

Founded in the 1960s as a left-wing party opposed to the Vietnam War, the party reached its peak of support in 1968 when it nominated Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver for President. Although a convicted felon and odious personality, Cleaver carried nearly 37,000 votes (ironically, Cleaver ultimately became a Reagan Republican in the early 1980s, and was later a crack cocaine addict in the late 1980s, before emerging as an environmental activist in the late 1990s). Famed "baby doctor" Benjamin Spock -- a leftist and staunch opponent of the Vietnam War -- was the PFP Presidential nominee in 1972. Since then, the small party has largely been dominated by battling factions of Marxist-Leninists (aligned with the Workers World Party), Trotskyists and socialist democrats. The PFP today is small, with activities largely centered only in California. In 1996, the PFP successfully blocked an attempt by the WWP to capture the PFP's Presidential nomination (and a California ballot spot) for their party's nominee. In a sign of the party's serious decline in support, the PFP's poor showing in the 1998 statewide elections caused the party to lose its California ballot status. The PFP finally regained California ballot status in 2003 -- and immediately fielded a sizable slate of candidates. Native American activist Leonard Peltier -- an imprisoned cop killer (or innocent political prisoner, depending on your views) -- was the PFP nominee for President in 2004 (ballot status in one state - 27,500 votes).

"If you are a reform-minded conservative and a non-drinker, the Prohibition Party wants you," exclaimed an official party message in 2002. The Prohibition Party -- founded in 1869 and billing themselves as "America's Oldest Third Party" -- espouses a generally ultra-conservative Christian social agenda mixed with anti-drug and international anti-communist views. The party's strongest showing was in 1892, when John Bidwell received nearly 273,000 votes (2.3% - 4th place). Long-time party activist Earl F. Dodge has run as the Prohibition Party's presidential nominee in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and again in 2004. Dodge received just 208 votes in 2000 -- the party's worst electoral showing ever. The party also fields a few local candidates from time to time -- but 2002 was the first time since the 1860s that the party failed to field any candidates for any public office. An additional party-related organization is the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society, a group of party activists (somewhat independent of Dodge's control) that want to turn Prohibition Party policy into law. The anti-Dodge folks -- led by new National Chairman Don Webb -- seem to have wrested control of the party by fall 2003, and have now demoted Dodge to just be the party's "provisional" nominee for President. This is largely a matter of semantics, as Dodge will continue to run as the party's nominee and the party will be stuck semi-backing him as he secures ballot status in Colorado. The rival ticket led by Gene Amundson -- supported by the party leadership -- will also be on the Colorado ballot under another name.

Once a rapidly growing, populist third party, the Reform Party shifted far to the right in recent years -- but then experienced massive waves of conservative defections away into the Constitution Party and the new America First Party in 2002. First, some history: after running as an Independent in 1992, billionaire Texas businessman Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in 1995 as his vehicle for converting his independent movement into a permanent political party. In 1996, Perot ran as the Reform Party's presidential nominee (8,085,000 votes - 8%). Although an impressive showing for a third party, it was much less than the 19 million votes Perot carried as an independent candidate back in 1992. The party traditionally reflected Perot's center-conservative fiscal policies and anti-GATT/NAFTA views -- while avoiding taking any official positions on social issues (although much of this group seemed to hold generally libertarian social views). The RP was plagued by a lengthy period of nasty ideological battles in 1998-2000 involving three main rival groups: the "Old Guard" Perot faction, the more libertarian Jesse Ventura faction, and the social conservative Pat Buchanan faction. A fourth group -- a small but vocal Marxist faction led by RP activist Lenora Fulani -- generally backed the Perot faction during these fights. To make this even more confusing, the Perot faction ultimately turned to Natural Law nominee and Maharishi follower John Hagelin as its "Stop Buchanan" candidate for President. After several nasty and public battles, the Ventura faction quit the RP in Spring 2000 and the old Perot faction lost control of the party in court to the Buchanan faction in Fall 2000 (and Perot ultimately endorsed Bush for President in 2000). That gave the Buchanan Brigade the party's $12.6 million in federal matching funds. Within months, the Buchanan allies won control of nearly the entire party organization. Along with Buchanan's rise to power in the party, the party made a hard ideological shift to the right -- an ideological realignment that continues to dominate the RP. In the aftermath of the 2000 elections, it is clear that Buchanan failed in his efforts to establish a viable, conservative third party organization (comprised largely of disenchanted Republicans). Buchanan was on the ballot in 49 states, captured 449,000 votes (4th place - 0.4%) -- and later told reporters that his foray into third party politics may have been a mistake. His weak showing also meant that the party is ineligible for federal matching funds in 2004. The new RP had the opportunity to become the leading social conservative third party (think of it as a Green Party for the right) -- but more internal conflicts made this impossible. In Spring 2002, former Buchanan VP runningmate Ezola Foster and the California and Maryland RP leaders jumped to the Constitution Party. Almost simultaneously, the entire RP leadership in nearly 20 other states (the core of the Buchanan Brigade folks) defected en masse to form the new America First Party -- delivering a demoralizing and devastating blow to the future viability of the RP. The remaining pieces of the RP appeared to drift away following that implosion. For the 2004 Presidential election, the remaining RP leaders gave their nomination and their ballot status in several states to Ralph Nader's fusion candidacy. The RP was just about bankrupt by late 2004, having less than $50 remaining in its bank account. A few state Reform chapters remain active as of 2006 -- particulary the Kansas Reform Party -- but the Reform Party is virtually dead as a national entity.

The SPUSA are true democratic socialists -- advocating left-wing electoral change versus militant revolutionary change. Many of the SP members could easily be members of the left-wing faction of the Democratic Party. Unlike most of the other political parties on this page with "Socialist" in their names, the SP has always been staunchly anti-communist. Founded by labor union leader, ex-Democratic elected official and pacifist Eugene V. Debs in 1900, the SP was once a mighty national third party. Debs himself was the SP nominee for president five times between 1900 and 1920. Debs received over 900,000 votes (6%) in 1912 -- the SP's best showing ever. Former minister and journalist Norman Thomas was the SP Presidential nominee 6 times between 1928 and 1948 -- his best showing being 883,000 votes (2.2%) in 1932. The SP also elected congressmen, mayors and other officials throughout the 20th Century (largely during the 1910s through 1950s). The withered and splintered so much that, by the last 1972, it barely existed. The Democratic Socialists of American and the Social Democrats USA --both linked below -- are the other splinter groups from the original Debs/Thomas SP. Activist from the old SP reconstituted the party in 1976 and began to again field SP national tickets for the first time in over two decades. Peace activist and former SP-USA National Chairman David McReynolds was the party's 2000 Presidential nominee, earning ballot status in seven states (7,746 votes - 8th place - 0.01% a bunch more write-in votes in New York and other states where election officials refused to tabulate individual write-in votes). The 2000 showing was a far cry from the SP glory days, but a major improvement over the party's 1996 showing. For 2004, former Democratic State Senator Walt Brown of Oregon is the SPUSA Presidential nominee. The party's youth wing -- the Young People's Socialist League -- has been in existence since the 1910s.

Socialist Action is a Trotskyist political party originally founded by expelled members of the Socialist Workers Party. While the SA shares the SWP's pro-Castro views, the SA still tries to retain its Trotskyist ideological roots (versus the SWP, which has drifted away from Trotskyism towards a more Soviet communist ideology). The SA states that they "oppose the Democrats and Republicans, all capitalist political parties, and all capitalist governments and their representatives everywhere ... [and] Stalinist and neo-Stalinist regimes from the ex-Soviet Union to China." To date, this group of communists have fielded some local political candidates in San Francisco and a few other communities. Youth for Socialist Action is the youth wing of the party.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) was originally named the Workers League (WL). The WL was founded in 1966 as a Trotskyist communist group closely associated with the electoral campaigns of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The goal of these Trotskyist groups was a build a working-class labor party in the US affiliated with the International Committee of the Fourth International (the global Trotskyist umbrella network). They believe that "the egalitarian and internationalist legacy of the Russian Revolution" could have succeeded, but was "betrayed by Stalinism" and its progeny. When the SWP drifted away from Trotskyism in the early 1980s, the WL broke with the SWP and began fielding its own candidates. The WL fielded its first Presidential ticket in 1984. The WL later renamed itself as the Socialist Equality Party in 1994. The Michigan-based SEP regularly fielded Congressional and local candidates in several states in the late 1980s and 1990s. 1996 SEP Presidential nominee Jerry White was on the ballot in only three states and captured just 2,400 votes. After 1996, the SEP failed to field any candidates for any office until an SEP member competed in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election (6,700 votes - 14th place out of 135). The SEP subsequently announced that it would field a 2004 Presidential ticket and as many Congressional candidates as possible. The SEP is very realistic about its chances for success in the election, acknowledging that they will "win only a limited number of votes." To the SEP, the campaign is an opportunity to "present a socialist alternative to the demagogy and lies of the establishment parties and the mass media." The SEP plans to use the 2004 race as a platform to "lay down the programmatic foundations for the building of a mass movement for a revolutionary transformation of American society." Part of that platform invovles replacing captialism with a Marxist system. The SEP also vows to remove all US soldiers from the Middle East, denounces imperialism, promises to "dismantle the Pentagon war machine" and eliminate weapons of mass destruction held by the US, and adopt "a socialist foreign policy based on international working class solidarity." If the SEP ticket gets on any ballots in 2004, they are unlikely to draw many votes. The SEP's news site -- the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) -- is updated daily with articles, analysis, history, etc., written with a hardcore internationalist, Trotskyist perspective.

Founded in 1877, the SLP is a militant democratic socialist party. More moderate members of the SLP bolted to create the Socialist Party USA in 1901. The SLP ran Presidential tickets in every election between 1892 and 1976 (the SLP's final presidential candidate won 9,600 votes in the 1976 race). The high cost of fielding a Presidential ticket and restrictive ballot access laws caused the SLP to abandon future Presidential races in favor of nominating candidates for lower offices. The SLP -- which bills itself as the party of "Marxism-DeLeonism" -- still fields a few local candidates (mainly in New Jersey). The site features party history, info on Daniel DeLeon, a Marx-Engels archive, links and more. The SLP newspaper The People, first printed in 1891, also publishes regularly updated online editions.

Originally a pro-Trotsky faction within the Communist Party USA, the SWP was formed in 1938 after the CPUSA -- acting on orders from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin -- expelled the American Trotskyites. The SWP was for many years the leading voice of Trotskyism in the USA. Since the 1980s, the SWP has drifted away from Trotskyism and moved towards the brand of authoritarian politics espoused by Cuban leader Fidel Castro's style of Marxism (the SWP sites calls Castro's Cuba "a shining example for all workers"). The SWP has run candidates for President in every election since 1948 -- plus federal and local candidates in various states. Marxist political organizer James Harris was the SWP Presidential nominee in 1996 (ballot status in 11 states - 8,500 votes - 0.01%) and 2000 (ballot status in 14 states - 7,378 votes - 9th place - 0.01%). You can also read the SWP's newspapers The Militant (English) and Perspectiva Mundial (Spanish) online. Marxist political organizer and journalist Róger Calero was the SWP Presidential nominee in 2004 -- ballot status in 14 states - 10,791 votes - 9th place - 0.01% -- even though he was constitutionally ineligible as a foreign citizen living in the US as a Permanent Resident Alien. Calero's ineligibility forced to party to field James Harris as a surrogate nominee in several of those states.

Founded in 2002, the US Marijuana Party (USMJP) is -- as you would expect -- a marijuana legalization entity espousing generally libertarian views. "The civil rights of Americans have been compromised by the war on drugs. Because the vast majority of citizens who use any illegal substance use only marijuana, the war on drugs is basically a war on marijuana. If you can pull the plug on the war on marijuana, you end the war on drugs as we know it. You shut down the prison industrial complex, and you restore the liberties that have been eroded because of this futile war on marijuana," explains the USMJP. The party -- which already has chapters formed in several states -- is seeking marijuana legalization on a state-by-state basis. The USMJP first fielded a few candidates on state ballots under the party banner in 2004 -- but by 2006 the handful of USMJP nominees were relegated to running as write-in candidates.

This tiny political party fielded a write-in candidate for President in 1996, 2000 and 2004, and a US Senate candidate in Colorado in 1998. The party opposes military actions in all circumstances and wants to transform the US military into "a non-violent defense and humanitarian service corps." The USPP platform advocates generally left-wing political stances and slashing the military budget to "zero." Staunchly opposed to nuclear weapons, the USPP believes that "unless nuclear weapons are deactivated, and nonviolent means developed to take the place of military violence for achieving justice and peace, civilization is doomed." To date, the USPP has run party founder Bradford Lyttle -- a lifelong activist for pacifism -- as a write-in Presidential candidate three times. While the USPP website indicated that Lyttle was also 2004 write-in candidate, the 75-year-old Lyttle did not wage an active campaign that year. No updates to the USPP site since the site's webmaster died in 2003. As of 2005, Lyttle was still organizing local peace marches around his Chicago base.

The Veterans Party was founded in 2003. The party vows to "give political voice for the first time since 1776, to the men and women who were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for this country.  No longer will they have to grovel and beg and fill out paperwork for years just to get what they proudly earned and were promised." The VPA fielded a few candidates in 2004, including a US Senate candidate in Florida. The party is not limited only to veterans, but is also intended to advocate for the families of US veterans. The centrist party has already registered in eight states, and is in the process of attempting to organize in dozens of additional states. As for issues, the party avoids many of the social/morality issues. "If you want religious issues, go to your congregation and discuss it there ... Morals and morality come from your family not the govt. so if you want to tell other people how to live their lives, how to think, how to dress or what they can and cannot do to their bodies, then become a prison warden, or a political party in some middle eastern country and rule there," explains the party's platform preface. The Veterans Party wants to represent the rights and needs of veterans across the political spectrum -- which is why the party's top priority is improving the lives of those who served. Bitter in-fighting caused the party to split into two rival factions in 2006.

Former town councilman Jeffrey Peters founded this small party and ran as the WTP's write-in nominee for President in 2000. A politically centrist entity, the WTP bills itself as "the American People's Party." Peters competed in the 2000 New Hampshire Democratic Presidential primary in an attempt to capture some media attention for the nascent WTP's "campaign reform" platform but received just 156 votes (9th place) -- and ended up bitterly complaining that the media ignored him and labeled him a "fringe candidate." Peters grabbed a few headlines for his WTP Presidential campaign in early October 2000 with his "Boston TV Party" -- when he vowed to dump some TV sets into Boston harbor to protest the exclusion of third party candidates from the first Bush-Gore Presidential Debate. The WTP vowed to "build a powerful Coalition of Independents to win back The White House for the people in 2004" -- but the site (and party) have shown no activity since 2003.

The WWP was formed in 1959 by a pro-Chinese communist faction that split from the Socialist Workers Party. Although the WWP theoretically supports worker revolutions, the WWP supported the Soviet actions that crushed worker uprisings in Hungary in the 1950s, Czechoslovakia in the 1960s and Poland in the early 1980s. The WWP was largely an issue-oriented revolutionary party until they fielded their first candidate for president in 1980. WWP Presidential nominee Monica Moorehead was on the ballot in 12 states in 1996 (29,100 votes - 0.03%) -- and was again the WWP's Presidential nominee in 2000 (ballot status in 4 states - 4,795 votes - 10th place - 0.004%). The militant WWP believes that "capitalist democracy produces nothing but hot air" and that "the power of the workers and the oppressed is in the streets, not in Washington." FBI Director Louis Freeh attacked the WWP in his May 2001 remarks before a US Senate committee: "Anarchists and extremist socialist groups -- many of which, such as the Workers World Party -- have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States" of rioting and street violence. The well-designed site features regularly updated news stories from a pro-Cuba/pro-China communist perspective, so expect lots of dogmatic stories denouncing the US government, sexism, racism, the police and capitalists. The WWP also sponsors or directs numerous popular front groups including International ANSWER, International Action Center, Stop War on Iran, US Troops Out Now, No Draft No Way, People Judge Bush, Nicaragua Network, Alliance for Global Justice, Pastors for Peace, and many others.