As presidential candidates Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama race for the vote this week, 14 other candidates are also vying for what many call the most powerful position in the world — and many voters will not hear about them until they enter the voting booth.
Media focus remains almost solely on the back-and-forth bickering between the Democratic and Republican parties, and many across the country largely ignore candidates like Pacifist Party founder Bradford Lyttle, who said he believes that the only way to avoid world war is to simply disband the American military.
Obama has taken flack from McCain’s camp for his plans to “spread the wealth,” and has been called a socialist, but the Socialist presidential candidate Brian Moore disagrees with the accusation, arguing that neither McCain nor Obama will be able to propose the radical systemic change he said the country needs to prevent an economic collapse.
And issues of the heart — greed, pride, fear and apathy — are important ones that independent candidate Jonathan Allen said Obama and McCain are intentionally avoiding as they campaign for president.
In an effort to determine what the fringes think about the issues surrounding the presidency, the Collegian had an opportunity to interview three of the candidates.
At almost 81 years of age and beginning his political science studies in the 1980s, Lyttle has what he calls “irrefutable evidence” that a nuclear war is inevitable and that the only way to avoid it is to completely disarm the military.
Having spent most of his life studying political science, Lyttle was jailed for 9 months in 1955 for dodging the draft during the Korean War and was jailed again for 6 months when he attended a protest of the Atlas missile silos in Nebraska.
He has taken the miniscule probability of a nuclear missile launch and plugged that number into what he calls the “apocalypse equation.”
This equation, which he created, shows that over extended lengths of time, the probability continues to increase until the threat of nuclear holocaust becomes certain.
“This isn’t speculation, it’s scientific fact,” he said. He argued that human history is marked by cycles of war and the system is inherently flawed in that there is always a chance of failure, which, measured over time, is unavoidable.
“When the human species invented nuclear bombs, it signed its death warrant,” he said.
Lyttle said that America’s spending on its military could be redirected to saving the economy and training citizens how to react to invasion, so that they can protect themselves if needed.
He admits that his chances of winning the presidency are not reasonable but said that he continues to run with the goal of spreading his ideas.
Independent Candidate: Jonathan Allen
Not every candidate is certain that an electoral victory is out of reach.
Jonathan Allen said that if he can win just “one or two or three or four” states, the elections would go into “overtime.”
Then, he said, Obama will be found out to not be a natural citizen, leaving McCain as his only opponent, per the 12th amendment.
He said that he would then earn the support of the Obama crowd, and people would realize that he should be president.
“It’s a long shot, but it’s very possible,” he said.
Allen has never held a political office, but argued that his third party position and separation from the political system sets him free to stand for what he says is truly important: issues of morality.
He said before any effective change can be made to better the country, Americans must first address its widespread greed, fear and pride — issues that he said are the stem of all of the country’s problems.
“We are trying to build a house, and we keep arguing if the paint should be red or white, if the roof should be tiled — but the foundation is flawed,” he said.
Allen, a Montrose business owner, said that “matters of the heart” are the focus of his campaign and that his international business experience makes him fit for the job.
“We don’t need a president who understands the game, we need someone who will change the game,” he said.
Though McCain criticizes Obama for being too socialist, Moore criticizes him for not being socialist enough.
“He’s in bed with the capitalists,” he said, calling the Democrat’s plans to redistribute the wealth nothing more than “false hopes.”
“Barack Obama is misleading the American people, and John McCain is misrepresenting socialism,” he said.
Moore said that many prominent Americans were socialists in the early 1900s, and socialism used to have a credible image before ” the liberal Democrat” President Woodrow Wilson and McCarthiesm sent the party downhill for 90 years.
Now, he said, transferring private ownership of corporations to the workers is the only solution to the nation’s economic problems.
Formerly a member of the Peace Corps, Moore said he got about 20,000 votes when he ran for the U.S. Senate in Florida as an unaffiliated independent, admitting that at the time he was a “closet socialist.”
Now, he is running for president.
“Technically, I can be elected, but the probability is miniscule,” he said. “I don’t expect to be, unless some cataclysmic failure hits the economy, and the people are suddenly in need of a radical change.”
possibility of a win
CSU political science professor John Straayer said that voting for any of these candidates is “the closest thing you can do to throwing your vote away.”
He said any third party candidate who believes they will be elected must be “smoking their own stuff,” and that Allen’s theory of how he might be elected is almost completely unbelievable and far-fetched.
“It’s a waste of a vote if you think you’re going to impact the outcome of the election,” he said, adding that there was, however, a chance that votes for Nader eight years ago might have cost Al Gore the election.
“But,” Straayer said, “it’s not a waste if it makes you feel good somewhere deep in your soul.”
Elections Beat Reporter Trevor Simonton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.