We have way more than two choices when it comes to president
For those of you who think the United States is a two-party country, I’ve got news for you: You’re in for a surprise when you go into the voting booth on Nov. 8.If you’re one of those people who decry this year’s two major party candidates, you have options; in fact, on the ballot here in Chickasaw County, there are 10 — yes, 10 — presidential candidates.Oh, you will recognize two names — Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton — and you might have even heard of Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate who some polls have approaching 10 percent.Heck, real political junkies may have even heard of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate who is polling just below 5 percent in national surveys.I’m enough of a political buff to say I’ve heard of all four candidates.The other six were mysteries to me before I received the “candidate listing” from the Chickasaw County Auditor’s Office last Wednesday night.For the record, they are Legal Marijuana Now candidate Dan Vacek, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle, New Independent Party Iowa candidate Lynn Kahn, Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate Gloria La Riva and Rocky Roque De La Fuennte and Evan McNally, who were nominated by petition.When the candidate listing arrived via email, I’ll admit my curiosity was piqued.Take the Legal Marijuana Now Party, for example. I had never heard of it, and Vacek was a complete unknown to me.So I went digging on the internet to find out about both the party and the candidate.Hey, the party has been around for a while — 18 years to be exact — and you guessed it, it’s definitely a one-issue party.The party was founded and is based in Minnesota, where Vacek ran for the Gopher State’s attorney general office in 2014.Unfortunately, for him, he didn’t come close, although he did garner 57,000-some votes. That, though, worked out to a mere 2.99 percent of the vote.That was up slightly from the 2.4 percent of the vote he garnered back in 1998 when he ran in the race for Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional seat.The party’s website is a bit eclectic. I searched and searched and searched and found nothing about the situation in the Mideast, the economy or even Donald Trump’s “infamous wall.”I did find a lot on marijuana, but it’s hard for me to take a political party too seriously when the words “legal weed” are plastered all over a website.On a serious note, I’m a big supporter of efforts to make medical cannabis more readily available in Iowa. I find it abhorrent that we have a law that basically says you can have it but we’re going to make it impossible for you to get it.But I’m totally against legalizing recreational use of marijuana. I know there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me, but when I went I went to treatment for alcoholism 20-plus years ago, my roommate was a “pothead.”He was a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but I saw enough in my month at the treatment center to be against legalized marijuana for the rest of my life.Then again, I probably don’t have to worry too much about Legal Marijuana Now and Dan Vacek. As far as I can tell, the party is active only in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.Those three states have 21 electoral votes. You need 270 to win.But some of these candidates have a long history of running on national tickets.Take the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s La Riva.She was the vice-president candidate for something called the Workers World Party in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000, and she ran for president in 2008.That year, she garnered 6,821 votes — or a mere 69,491,695 fewer than Barack Obama received.I’m not holding my breath when it comes to La Riva this year. As of July 24, she had raised $25,234, although she’s only spent $10,092.Still, isn’t that 10,000 bucks pretty much flushed down the proverbial toilet.In the end, let’s face it, the next inhabitant of the White House is either going to be Hill or The Donald.But for those of us who are complaining that those two don’t really give us a “choice” this fall, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.All told, 23 candidates appeared on the ballot of at least one state in 2008, and that number increased to 27 in 2012.Most election experts expect that number to jump in 2016, but after spending way too much time on the internet the past couple of days, trust me, the choices aren’t much better.But they are, at the very least, pretty entertaining.