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 past few election seasons has led some Christians to give them more consideration than usual. To help Christians think about voting in a way that will most benefit the welfare of our nation (Jer. 29:7), this series will provide, without commentary, an outline of various minor party platforms as they relate to several social issues.
Unfortunately, because there are roughly 50 minor political parties in America this series will not be able to cover them all, so we’ll focus only on the American Solidarity Party, the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Green Party. (See the end of this article for an explanation of why these four were chosen.)
In covering these platforms there are two issues to note.
First, 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. Second, minor parties tend to focus more on broad principles than specific policy prescriptions. This is especially true when it comes to social issues. 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 2020 Platform:
• Seeks to promote the sanctity of life, and considers all human life to be sacred, from conception to natural death.
• Seeks to promote social justice, defined as a special collective responsibility to the most vulnerable members of society and a call for societal structures that uphold the equal value and dignity of each person, regardless of any personal characteristics. “This requires efforts to address systemic and historic injustices, including long-standing racial injustice, in a way that confronts inequalities that disparage innate personal dignity.”
• Seeks to promote a community-oriented society. “Society consists of various institutions and communities, like families, governments, and religious groups, whose primary authority over their own affairs should be respected and defended. Higher levels of government should serve to empower and support lower levels of authority, rather than replace them.”
• Seeks to promote the centrality of the family. “Natural marriage and the family are the central institutions of society and must be supported and strengthened, not undermined.”
• Seeks to promote economic security. “The state and subsidiary organizations must act to remedy economic injustice by creating conditions for widespread ownership of property and production.”
• Seeks to promote care for the environment. “Cultivation and good stewardship ought to characterize the relationship between humanity and creation. The earth and its fruits are universally destined for the benefit of all people.”
• Seeks to promote peace and international solidarity. “Peace is the fruit of justice and requires solidarity among peoples and nations. Aid and trade policies must advance justice, sustainability, and human flourishing. Diplomatic and nonviolent means of resolution must be exhausted before violent means can be considered. Military action must strictly adhere to just-war principles.”
• Supports federal and state governments enacting constitutional and legal measures establishing the right to life from conception until natural death.
• Supports constitutional amendments clarifying that there is no right to abortion, as well as laws that prohibit or restrict abortion.
• Opposes the intentional destruction of human embryos in any context.
• Opposes all taxpayer funding of organizations that provide, promote, or facilitate abortions, and of health-care plans that include abortion coverage.
• Supports redirecting current taxpayer funding of abortion to organizations that promote healthy pregnancies and prenatal care.
• Opposes capital punishment.
• Supports efforts to “help prevent the tragedy of suicide, including universal access to affordable mental-health care and the destigmatization of mental illness.”
• Opposes the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
• Supports requiring the government at all levels to defend the rights of public assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, understood through the tradition of ordered liberty.
• Supports laws favoring equal access to the polls, the courts, housing, and education, and opposes discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, and sex.
• Supports addressing racial discrimination “through reparative and restorative means, such as economic grants and policies which incentivize investment, job-training, and hiring in minority communities, and by continuing dialogue between communities and local governments regarding minority concerns.”
• Supports government agencies working with the disabled to ensure that financial benefits are applied fairly and consistently.
• Supports efforts to incorporate people with disabilities into work or volunteer programs, depending on individual circumstances.
• Supports legal protection for occupational safety and compensation, good faith in hiring and retention, and paid leave for illness and child-rearing.
• Opposes conscription into the armed services and other forms of compulsory government service, except in cases of clear and present necessity during declared war under just war conditions.
• Opposes the mandatory registration of women in the Selective Service system.
• Opposes government using “national security” to justify expanded censorship and secrecy.
• Supports repeal of the Patriot Act and the reinstatement of basic civil rights, including the right of citizens to a speedy trial in civilian courts.
• Supports abolishment of “secret tribunals (such as the FISA court)” and returning military courts “to their proper role.”
• Opposes detaining foreign non-combatants in American facilities or remanded by agents of the federal government to foreign prisons.
Criminal Justice Reform
• Supports reforms to “simultaneously ensure public safety, secure individual justice, and reduce the excessively penal nature of the system.”
• Supports federal and state governments seeking to address the causes as well as the effects of criminal behavior.
• Opposes the privatization of law-enforcement and penal institutions.
• Supports holding law enforcement officers to the highest standards of professionalism.
• Supports strict accountability for the use of lethal force.
• Supports local governments instituting measures that will increase transparency and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, including the use of body cameras, civilian review boards, and expansion of community policing.
• Supports increases in state-level funding for our public defender system.
• Supports an end to cash bail, court fees, and programs that allow records to be expunged in exchange for paying higher fees.
• Supports repeal of mandatory sentencing requirements, especially for non-violent criminals.
• Oppose the imprisonment of those who are simply mentally ill, homeless, or too poor to pay fines.
• Supports increased funding of programs meant to prepare prisoners for life outside the prison.
• Supports an end to the use of prisoners as slave labor. “Prisoners must be remunerated at the minimum wage for work performed.”
• Supports focusing drug enforcement efforts on distribution and production.
• Supports redirecting funds currently expended on the “war on drugs” toward prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.
• Supports having laws against prostitution focus on “removing those participating from the cycle of exploitation, mandating penalties primarily on those who buy sex or arrange for its purchase.”
• Supports allowing families to have primary responsibility for the education of children.
• Supports allowing families to homeschool their children or send them to public or private schools.
• Supports both public and private schools, with a preferential option for economically disadvantaged students and an emphasis on making teaching a well-paying occupation.
• Supports allowing teachers to be free to design their own curricula within general parameters set by local authorities.
• Opposes standardized testing as the most significant factor in measuring the success of students and schools.
• Opposes the overuse of technology in the classroom of local school systems.
• Supports local school systems undertaking initiatives that “expand education beyond reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and the arts. Additional subjects should include virtue and citizenship, understanding of the natural world, agriculture, trades, life skills, and useful crafts.”
• Supports increased public investment in higher education by state governments, resulting in a reduction of tuition at public institutions.
• Supports stricter regulation of for-profit educational enterprises.
• Supports proposals for partial forgiveness of government student loans, along with more opportunities to work off debt.
• Supports having sex education classes, when offered, to be required to include accurate information on prenatal development, the risks of hormonal contraceptives, and the scientific evidence that abortion takes a human life.
• Supports the “repeal of subsidies that encourage urban sprawl and discourage local farming and production, and we encourage local media outlets and chambers of commerce to promote buying locally.”
• Supports teaching “habits of conservation to our children both at home and in our schools, and we must put them into practice ourselves.”
• Opposes neighborhood policies that incentivize chemical-saturated lawns, or forbid outdoor clotheslines.
• Opposes the use of streetlights “so bright that they disrupt natural circadian rhythms or migration patterns.”
• Supports making “every effort to ensure that no home in America lacks access to clean drinking water in the home and fresh foods in the neighborhood.”
• Supports eliminating federal and state government subsidies for “reckless oil and mineral extraction (such as “fracking”)” and replacing with funding for research into renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, and nuclear power.
• Supports strong regulations to conserve our nation’s natural resources and to protect our land, air, and water from man-made pollution and degradation, including maintaining current laws meant for that purpose.
• Supports direct accountability of illegal polluters to their victims in the courts.
• Supports instituting federal pollution taxes and cap-and-trade systems to incentivize transitioning to renewable and non-polluting production systems.
• Supports using revenue from pollution taxes to fund carbon sequestration by farms, businesses, and individuals, and returned to the people through a carbon dividend.
• Supports doing “more than protect our current nature preserves; we must also actively rebuild the natural habitats necessary for a healthy environment.”
• Supports having federal government agencies take all necessary measures to preserve and protect our natural wetlands, which provide an ecologically healthy form of flood control.
• Supports planting more trees as a natural carbon sink and to combat deforestation and desertification.
• Supports having the federal government prioritize new distribution technologies for waste, with particular concern for the oceans.
• Supports strengthening laws against animal abuse and neglect, including stricter regulation of factory farms and stockyards and the repeal of food disparagement laws and “so-called ag-gag laws that prohibit free speech regarding animal agriculture.”
Family Policy Issues
• Supports protecting marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman for life.
• Supports repeals of state policies that penalize couples for getting married or that encourage divorce. (“At the same time, such reforms should not come at the cost of helping single parents.”)
• Supports repeal of no-fault divorce laws.
• Supports efforts to prevent and prosecute domestic violence.
• Supports a prohibition on gestational surrogacy contracts and sperm banks.
• Supports federal and state governments funding for services that “promote stable, healthy marriages and the flourishing of children, even when such services are provided by religious institutions with religious values.”
• Supports making “workplace accommodations for parents, including paid parental leave, flexible scheduling, and affordable child care” available to “as many families as possible.”
• Supports policies subsidizing child care by parents staying at home.
• Supports funding and services (such as preferential housing options, tax credits, and respite care) to encourage families to care for elderly and disabled family members at home “without being impoverished by lost income.”
• Supports the right of parents to protect their minor children from surgical or hormonal treatment that attempt to change the child’s biological sex.
• Supports legislation prohibiting any form of gender reassignment surgery on children.
• Supports efforts to make public spaces child-friendly, encourage outdoor play, and “reform legal and administrative practices that unfairly penalize parents for giving children a reasonable degree of independence.”
• Supports government guaranteed universal health-care “by diverse means, including single-payer initiatives, direct subsidization of provider networks, subsidized education for medical professionals willing to work in rural areas, support for cost-sharing programs and mutual aid societies, home care grants, simplified regulation, and the easing of restrictions on the importation of prescription drugs.
• Supports inclusion of protections for those with preexisting, chronic, and terminal conditions in health policy.
• Supports financial assistance for “those who have no means to save for an emergency, people at every stage of life from prenatal care to hospice care, and people who find themselves in need of medical assistance while away from their home network.”
• Supports the federal government negotiating health-care pricing.
• Support pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal care being fully covered by all health care.
• Opposes “the idea that surgical or hormonal treatment to circumvent the natural, healthy development and function of the body is necessary health care.”
• Supports aggressively combating human trafficking.
• Supports laws that criminalize the production and sale of pornography and “deny categorically that pornography is protected speech.”
• Supports laws that allow people of all faiths to practice their religion without intimidation.
• Opposes “secularism that seeks to remove religion from the public sphere. . . . The First Amendment prohibition against an establishment of religion does not require the eradication of religious symbols from community events and property. So long as nobody is compelled to endorse or participate in an activity, communities should have the freedom to celebrate religious events and express religious values, without artificial distinctions that force religious believers to check their faith at the public door.”
• Opposes limiting the “free exercise of religion” guaranteed by the First Amendment to “freedom of worship” that “merely exists in private and within a house of worship.”
• Supports laws that protect religious institutions, small businesses, and private individuals from civil or criminal liability for choosing to follow their conscience in matters regarding life, health care, morality, sexuality, and marriage.
• Supports conscience protections for employers and charities in health, education, and welfare that do not wish to participate in activities that contradict their sincerely held convictions.
• Supports “solidarity with religiously-affiliated institutions such as colleges, adoption agencies, and hospitals, which are facing pressure in some states to compromise on principles central to their doctrines.”
To narrow the list, I selected minor parties who had presidential candidates with ballot access to at least 50 electoral votes in the 2020 election. That eliminated all but six minor parties: the American Solidarity Party, the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Alliance Party, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
I excluded the Alliance Party because they do not have a party platform and take few positions on social issues relevant to TGC readers. I excluded the Party for Socialism and Liberation because their radical positions on abortion (e.g., “The right to contraception, birth control and abortion services will not be restricted in any way, nor will there be any restriction on a woman’s right to decide to have children or not. Abortion services will be available free and on demand.”) and sexuality (e.g., “No law or measure will give preference in word or in deed that favors heterosexual relationships over other relationships.”) are unlikely to make the party of interest to TGC readers.