3rd Party Players
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The Libertarian Party had its intellectual origins in the walkout by Republicans upset with Richard Nixon's policies at the 1968 Republican Convention. The disgruntled Republicans got together with some equally fed-up Democrats and founded the party in 1971. They were first on the ballot in South Carolina in 1980.
The Libertarians have about 150 dues-paying members statewide. They have run candidates for a variety of offices over the past 16 years but have yet to win an election.
The original "less government is better" party, Libertarians don't see government as capable of solving problems; they see government as the problem. Their presidential candidate, Harry Browne, says that Libertarians want to remove the government "immediately and completely from every activity not specified in the Constitution education, energy, regulation, crime control, welfare, housing, transportation, health care, agriculture and all the other areas the federal government has stuck its nose into unconstitutionally over the past 60 years."
Says Libertarian organizer David Morris of Columbia, "You throw your vote away if you vote for the Dem-Repubs. If you are opposed to business as usual and don't want to waste your vote, vote Libertarian."
Critics say the Libertarians would do away with environmental and antitrust and labor legislation that would return this country to a time of unbridled capitalist exploitation.
Presidential candidate: Harry Browne. U.S. Senate: Richard Quillian.
For information: 803-552-9991
U.S. Taxpayers Party
The U.S. Taxpayers Party has its roots in the American Party of the late 1960s. The American Party was staunchly segregationist and ran Alabama Gov. George Wallace for president on what amounted to a Klan ticket.
The American Party of South Carolina was dormant until 1992, when the name was changed to the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The party denies any links to the old American Party, claiming that it merely assumed the defunct party's ballot status to avoid petitioning for ballot status. The Taxpayer's Party was organized nationally in 1991.
State chairman Ted Adams says the main difference between his party and the two main parties is, "We are not bought and paid for by special interests." Adams says most of the party support in the 35 states where it has ballot status comes from former Republicans "who sincerely want less government."
The Taxpayers believe that federal agencies dealing with health, education, welfare and the environment "are not constitutionally mandated and shouldn't exist."
Presidential candidate: Pat Buchannan has been asked to run.
For information: 864-292-5001.
The Patriots Party on the ballot this year was registered as the New Alliance Party in 1994. Its first presence in South Carolina was when they orchestrated a hostile takeover of the United Citizens Party, a local black-led party that ran statewide candidates as a response to being shut out of the Democratic Party. The UCP had fallen dormant, and allowed the New Alliance Party to usurp its ballot status by filing appropriate notices in newspapers.
The New Alliance Party had all the appearances of a liberal organization, calling itself the Rainbow Alliance in 1988 to capitalize on Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. The party's founder, New York psychologist Fred Newman, was a colleague of ultra-rightist Lyndon Larouche in the 1970s.
The Patriot Party claims 100 members in South Carolina, which would be a huge increase over the few local relatives of New York-based party members who maintained a paper presence in South Carolina. This year, the Patriot Party merged with the Reform Party, confirming suspicions that the faithful weren't really liberals.
Presidential candidate: Ross Perot (to be confirmed at the convention).
For information: 864-879-2617
The Reform Party of South Carolina got ballot status just this year by collecting the names of 33,000 registered voters (not all of whom can be counted on to vote Reform). The party will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and owes its existence to the perseverance and wealth of H. Ross Perot. Perot ran for president in 1992, capturing 19 percent of the vote.
Betty Montgomery, state chair of the Reform Party, says the party draws mainly from young, white voters who would otherwise be Republicans. Montgomery doesn't consider a vote for the party's candidate (most probably Perot) to be a wasted vote. "This is not a symbolic campaign," she said. "If people vote for what they want, instead of against what they are afraid of, we can win."
The party's candidate will be chosen at two national conventions in August. Everyone who signed a petition will be assigned a number that will allow them to cast a ballot over the phone or by e-mail.
"What sets us apart from the major parties," Montgomery said, "is that we are going to focus exclusively on economic issues and campaign reform. We are not going to get into issues like abortion or life-styles."
Presidential candidate: Richard Lamm or Ross Perot
For information: 864-472-4133