Note: This is the fifth 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 Constitution Party as outlined in their 2016 Platform:
• The goal of the Constitution Party is to “restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.”
• “The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.”
• “This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on a foundation of Christian principles and values. For this very reason peoples of all faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
• “The Constitution of the United States provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The Constitution Party supports the original intent of this language. Therefore, the Constitution Party calls on all those who love liberty and value their inherent rights to join with us in the pursuit of these goals and in the restoration of these founding principles.”
• “The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law, administered by representatives who are constitutionally elected by the citizens. In such a Republic all Life, Liberty and Property are protected because law rules.”
• “We affirm the principles of inherent individual rights upon which these United States of America were founded:”
- That each individual is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness;
- That the freedom to own, use, exchange, control, protect, and freely dispose of property is a natural, necessary and inseparable extension of the individual’s unalienable rights;
- That the legitimate function of government is to secure these rights through the preservation of domestic tranquility, the maintenance of a strong national defense, and the promotion of equal justice for all;
- That history makes clear that left unchecked, it is the nature of government to usurp the liberty of its citizens and eventually become a major violator of the people’s rights; and
- That, therefore, it is essential to bind government with the chains of the Constitution and carefully divide and jealously limit government powers to those assigned by the consent of the governed.
Character and Moral Conduct
• Maintains that members and nominated candidates representing the Constitution Party and its state affiliates “recognize the importance of demonstrating good character in their own lives.”
Conscription (Military draft)
• Opposes imposition of the draft, the registration law, compulsory military training, or any other form of compulsory government service.
• Supports a well-trained and highly organized volunteer state home militia, and voluntary Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) military training in schools, colleges, and universities.
Copyrights and Patents
• Opposes transfer of authority over copyright and patent policy from Congress to other agencies, domestic or foreign.
• Supports “more vigorous efforts” in both domestic and foreign markets to protect the interests of owners in their copyrights and patents.
• Supports limiting federal involvement in state and local criminal justice processes to what is “Constitutionally permitted.”
• Supports trial by jury upon request for all accusations of crimes.
• Supports jury nullification.
• Opposes defendants being charged and tried by both state and federal jurisdictions under different laws for the same alleged criminal act, “thus violating the constitutionally secured prohibition against double jeopardy.”
• Opposes “hate crime” legislation and to enhanced penalties for so called hate crimes.
• Supports the “unimpeded right of parents” to provide for the education of their children in the manner they deem best, including home, private, or religious.
• Opposes all legislation from any level of government that would interfere with a parent’s right to educate their children.
• Opposes compulsory attendance laws.
• Supports the “free market principles which drive improvement of education” through non-traditional options such as internet-based schools, charter schools, Christian and private schools, as well as home schooling options.
• Supports the elimination of the federal Department of Education.
• Supports the repeal of all current federal legislation related to education.
• Opposes new federal laws subsidizing or regulating education.
• Opposes any federal agency, department, board, or other entity having jurisdiction over any aspect of children’s upbringing, education, training, or discipline.
• Opposes all federal government involvement in national teacher certification, educational curricula, textbook selection, learning standards, comprehensive sex education, psychological and psychiatric research testing programs, and personnel.
• Supports repeal of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT (NCLB Act) and RACE TO THE TOP
• Supports returning to the states and to the people all lands which are held by the federal government without authorization by the Constitution.
• Supports repeal of federal wetlands legislation.
• Supports repeal of the federal Endangered Species Act.
• Opposes U.S. participation in UN programs such as UNESCO, Man and the Biosphere, and the UN Council on Sustainable Development.
• Opposes any attempt to designate private or public property as United Nations World Heritage sites or Biosphere reserves.
• Opposes environmental treaties and conventions such as the Biodiversity Treaty, the Convention on Climate Control, and Agenda 21, which “destroy our sovereignty and right to private property.”
Federal Budget and Debt
• Supports funding only “those duties, functions, and programs” specifically assigned to the federal government by the Constitution
• Supports restricting federal expenditures to no more than collected revenues.
• Supports paying interest on federal debt as it accrues and making annual reductions in the principal.
• Supports selling “certain lands and other federal assets, including foreign military bases,” and applying the proceeds exclusively to debt reduction.
• Oppose “dishonest accounting practices” such as “off-budget items” used to “hide unconstitutional spending practices.”
• Opposed to government sponsorship, involvement in, or promotion of gambling such as lotteries, casinos or subsidization of Native American casinos.
• Supports restoring to the States and to the people control over legislative, judicial, executive, and regulatory functions that are not constitutionally delegated to the federal government.
• Opposes any regionalization of governments, at any level, which results in removal of decision-making powers from the people or those directly elected by the people.
• Supports privatization of the Social Security system.
• Supports eliminating the Civil Service system.
• Opposes states accepting all monies from the federal government for any purpose not specifically and clearly articulated in the Constitution.
• Opposes all federal mandates and regulations that are “unconstitutional.”
• Opposed to public-private partnerships and is for a return to the “true ‘free enterprise’ system that once made our nation great and economically prosperous.”
• Opposes the “governmentalization and bureaucratization” of American medicine
Supports elimination of the federal Food and Drug Administration.
• Supports freedom of choice of practitioner and treatment for all citizens for their health care.
• Support the right of patients to seek redress of their grievances through the courts against insurers and/or HMO’s.
Money and banking
• Supports return to the principle of “coin” money as defined by the U.S. Constitution and the Mint Act of 1792
• Supports repeal of the Federal Reserve Act.
• Supports a prohibition on fractional reserve banking.
• Supports the common-law rule that protects the people from any search or seizure whatsoever when that search or seizure violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
• Opposes legislation and executive action that deprive the people of Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights under claims of necessity to “combat terrorism” or to “protect national security.”
• Opposes legislation and administrative action utilizing asset forfeiture laws.
• Opposes laws that allow for the monitoring and controlling of financial transactions.
• Supports privacy legislation that prohibits private parties from discriminating against individuals who refuse to disclose or obtain a Social Security number.
• Supports prohibiting all governmental entities from requiring the use of the Social Security number except for Social Security transactions.
• Supports the repeal of all laws, regulations, and statutes that require the use of the Social Security number for any purpose other than Social Security transactions.
• Opposes any form of taxation on churches and other religious organizations
• Supports allowing private organizations to determine their own membership, volunteers, and employment based on their oaths and creeds.
Tariffs and Trade
• Opposes the transfer of authority over U.S. trade policy from Congress to agencies, domestic or foreign, which “improperly exercise policy-setting functions” with respect to U.S. trade policy.
• Support the abolition of the Office of Special Trade Representative.
• Supports the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and “all other agreements wherein agencies other than the Congress of the United States improperly assume responsibility for establishing American trade policies.”
• Supports a tariff based revenue system.
• Support increasing U.S. tariffs on any foreign import to prevent them from being less than the difference between the foreign item’s cost of production and the cost of production of a similar item produced in the United States. (“The cost of production of a U.S. product shall include, but not be limited to, all compensation, including fringe benefits, paid to American workers, and environmental costs of doing business imposed on business by federal, state, and local governments.”)
• Opposes all international trade agreements which have the effect of “diminishing America’s economic self-sufficiency and of exporting jobs, the loss of which impoverishes American families, undermines American communities, and diminishes America’s capacity for economic self-reliance, and the provision of national defense.”
• Opposes the trade concept of normal trade relations (Most Favored Nation status).
• Opposes “Trade Promotion Authority,” which transfers the establishment of trade policy from Congress to the Executive branch of government.
• Supports abolishing the Internal Revenue Service.
• Supports repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment.
• Supports an end to all taxation and economic formulas that discourage marriage, incentivize co-habitation and child bearing outside of marriage or authorize or provide government funding for policies and programs that “further erode the jurisdiction of the family or parental rights.”
• Opposes all flat-rate tax, national sales tax, and value added tax proposals.
• Supports replacing including income taxes, payroll taxes, and estate taxes with a tariff based revenue system supplemented by excise taxes.
• Supports an apportioned “state-rate tax” in which the responsibility for covering the cost of unmet obligations will be divided among the several states in accordance with their proportion of the total population of the United States, excluding the District of Columbia. (“Thus, if a state contains 10 percent of the nation’s citizens, it will be responsible for assuming payment of 10 percent of the annual deficit.”)
• Supports motor fuel excise taxes, at rates not in excess of those currently imposed, to be used exclusively for the erection, maintenance, and administration of Federal highways.
• Supports taxation of corporations.
Wages and price controls
• Opposes allowing the civil government to have any authority to set wages and prices
• “Under no circumstances should the taxpayers of the United States be obligated, under penalty of law through forced taxation, to assume the cost of providing welfare for other citizens. Neither should taxpayers be indentured to subsidize welfare for persons who enter the United States illegally.”