Note: This is the third in a series examining the positions of several minor party and independent presidential candidates on issues covered by the Acton Institute. A previous series covered the Democratic Party platform (see here and here) and the Republican Party Platform (see here and here).
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 current election season has led some Christians to give them more consideration. The intention of this series is to provide some basic information on where some of these parties stand on issues covered by the Acton Institute.
A couple of caveats are thus in order.
1. Because there are roughly 50 minor political parties in America this series will not be able to cover them all. The choice of what will be included is undeniably arbitrary and subjective. My intention is to highlight the four or five parties (or individual presidential candidacies) that would be of most interest to our readers. Currently, the plan is to include Evan McMullin (a conservative independent candidate), the Libertarian Party, the American Solidarity Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party. (Others will be added if there is sufficient interest/demand.)
2. In general, the PowerBlog covers issues related to economics and individual liberty, particularly religious freedom. For this reason some social issues of concern to Christians are not included. This is not because they are unimportant or because those of us at Acton do not care about the issues. It’s merely because they are outside the focus of this blog.
3. For the sake of simplicity, this series will highlight the position listed in a party’s platform or, if they are a non-aligned independent candidate, the positions listed on their website. 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.
4. Minor parties tend to focus more on broad principles than specific policy prescriptions. 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 American Solidarity Party as outlined in their 2016 Platform:
• The American Solidarity Party self-identifies as the “only active Christian Democratic party in the United States.” (See here for more on Christian Democratic parties.)
• Seeks to promote the common good and the material and spiritual welfare of all people.
• Seeks to raise consciousness of the Christian worldview.
• Seeks to offer a positive vision that can bring communities together.
• Stands for the sanctity of human life, the necessity of social justice, responsibility for the environment, and hopes for the possibility of a peaceful world.
• Believes that political economy (economics) is a branch of political ethics. “We reject models of economic behavior based on greed and naked self-interest.”
Banking and Finance
• Supports increased oversight of the banking industry and personal accountability for fraudulent behavior.
• Supports an amendment of the Federal Reserve Act to enable direct investment in public works.
• Supports the creation of public investment banks and private credit unions at the state and local levels.
• Supports partial forgiveness of student loans
• Supports restoration of bankruptcy-protection for debtors.
• Supports defending the rights of public assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
• Opposes the expansion of censorship and secrecy in the interests of “national security.”
• Supports “ban the box” initiatives [persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record.]
• Supports laws favoring equal access to the polls, the courts, housing, education, and credit.
• Opposes conscription into the armed services and other forms of compulsory government service, except in cases of clear and present necessity during declared war.
• Opposes the mandatory registration of women in the Selective Service system.
• Supports reforms in the process of jury-selection, in order to prevent jurypacking and the narrowing of jury pools.
• Supports restricting the legal construct of “personhood” for organizations and corporations.
• Opposes government censorship of the media and the internet.
• Supports the repeal of the Patriot Act
• Opposes the “indiscriminate and unauthorized” collection of data from the phones and computers of American citizens and foreign nationals.
• Opposes laws and trade agreements that allow the monitoring of personal internet usage for non-criminal offenses, such as copyright infringement.
• Regards money and credit as “public utilities.”
• Supports models of production and distribution that are “local, responsible, and sustainable.”
• Supports the creation of family-owned businesses and worker cooperatives.
• Opposes regulations designed to inhibit competition from smaller firms.
• Supports the repeal of subsidies that encourage urban sprawl and discourage local farming and production.
• Supports a tax shift from earned income (wages and interest) to unearned income (economic rent).
• Supports a shift of the “burden of property taxes from buildings and improvements to ground rents.”
• Supports the direct payment of surplus revenue to the public as a “Citizens’ Dividend.”
• Supports the creation of sovereign wealth funds in financial markets.
• Supports increased regulation of private pension plans, with “greater transparency regarding fees collected by fund managers.”
• Opposes privatization of Social Security, and advocates a “return to the use of the funds generated from the program to be solely used for the payments out to recipients, rather than the current use of the funds for many purposes.”
• Opposes privatization of public pension systems.
• Supports greater legal responsibility on the part of creditors and vendors for vigilance against fraudulent activity, such as identity theft.
• Supports parental right to homeschool.
• Supports public funding of both public and private schools, with a “preferential option for economically disadvantaged students.”
• Supports the “freedom of teachers” to design their own curricula within general parameters set by local authorities.
• Supports initiatives to improve education for virtue and citizenship, as well as core subjects such as reading and writing, mathematics, science, and the arts.
• Supports increased public investment in higher education and a reduction of tuition at public institutions.
• Supports stricter regulation of for-profit educational enterprises.
• Supports generous funding for research in safe and renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind-power.
• Opposes government subsidies for “reckless oil- and mineral extraction (such as “fracking”).”
• Supports a strong regime of environmental protection by independent public agencies.
• Supports direct accountability of illegal polluters to their victims in the courts.
• Supports the institution of pollution taxes to “fund research in cleaner methods of production and to compensate all citizens for abuse of the natural commons.”
• Supports a cap-and-dividend approach to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. “Producers will bid for permits to emit a fixed amount of greenhouse gasses; revenue from the permits will be applied to ecological research and the Citizens’ Dividend.”
• Support programs to reduce the damage done to communities and residents affected by the transition from fossil fuels and mineral extraction to renewable energy sources, including economic redevelopment aid, job retraining, and/or direct aid to those laid off and their families.
• Supports the replacement of privately-funded health insurance with a decentralized ‘single-payer’ system.
• Supports vigorous enforcement of laws against human trafficking.
• Opposes “union-busting laws that interfere with the relationship between employers and labor organizations.”
• Supports legal protection for occupational safety and compensation>
• Supports “equal access to employment” and “good faith in hiring and retention.
• Supports paid leave for illness and child-rearing.
• Supports the creation of a “vigorous and responsible public sector in transportation, education, the arts, and entertainment.”
• Opposes the privatization of “natural monopolies” such as toll roads and bridges, community policing and parking enforcement, public transportation, prisons, and energy and water utilities.
• Opposes “unduly restrictive” intellectual property laws.
• Supports allowing copyright and patents to be leased at their full market value, like “other forms of economic rent.”
• Supports public ownership of the airwaves. “Commercial use of the electromagnetic spectrum should be leased to recover its full market value. “
• Supports the “broadening of non-commercial access” in the form of local PEG (public, educational, and government) television and radio stations.
• Supports using anti-trust legislation and enforcement to “resist the formation of media conglomerates, and, if necessary, break up those that already exist.”
• Support strict net neutrality, so that “users may access legal content without restrictions imposed by their Internet Service Providers.”
• Supports the creation of local, public ISPs and universal Wi-Fi access to the Internet.
• Supports public and/or community ownership of professional sports franchises and supports “appropriate action to ensure that these ownership structures are not barred from professional sports leagues.”
• Opposes the privatization of law-enforcement and penal institutions.
• Supports laws that allow people of all faiths to practice their religion “without intimidation” and opposes “aggressive secularism that seeks to remove religion from the public sphere.”
• Supports a requirement that tax revenue be collected by local agencies and “distributed upwards to higher levels of government, rather than from the top down.”
• Supports taxing gambling windfalls as a form of unearned income.
• “The ASP believes that the surest path to really free trade is the removal of obstacles to domestic productivity, such as payroll taxes, government subsidies for cheap energy and big agriculture, and the hoarding of productive land for speculative purposes.”
• Opposes regulations and loopholes that “protect special interests at the expense of consumers.”
• Opposes favorable trade status for countries in which workers are exploited, and to agreements that favor international corporations over local producers.
• Supports reform or replacement of international trade organizations (such as the WTO, World Bank, and IMF) in the “interest of transparency, accountability, and fairness to all nations.”
• Opposes the use of international financial pressure to restructure the economies of debtor nations.
• Opposes “sudden elimination or reduction” of income supports such as welfare, food stamps, and unemployment insurance, when “no other safety net is in place.”
• Supports a gradual replacement of needs-based welfare and assistance payments with a Citizens’ Dividend, funded by the collection of unearned income.