Fringe candidates party on beyond the mainstream

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Never mind November. At this point in the election cycle, the American people already seem to have made their choice.

None of the above.

President Obama’s approval ratings have stalled below 50 percent, an ominous augur of incumbent vulnerability. Republican voters have been so meh about their primary candidates that they’ve resorted to playing Whack-a-Frontrunner, with each GOP contender — plus Donald Trump — popping out of their hole for a deceptive instant at the top.

American people: It’s time to look harder. Much, much harder. Fact is, there’s a vast universe of political alternatives out there you might not be aware of.

Take, for example, the Prohibition Party.

Activist Loretta Nall, founder of the U.S. Marijuana Party, says it was unfair to not include her in the debates. "It's hard to overcome not being on the stage with the other contenders," she says. (Associated Press)

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Activist Loretta Nall, founder of the U.S. Marijuana Party, says it was ... more >

The nation’s oldest third party, the Prohibitionists stand against the Federal Reserve System, in favor of building a Mexican border fence and — here’s where things get interesting, if perchance you enjoy the taste of beer — committed to reviving the 18th Amendment. Since its 1869 founding, the party has run a candidate in every presidential election; four years ago, its nominee was Gene Amondson, a minister from Washington state.

The bad news? Mr. Amondsonreceived 643 votes, finishing 69,456,254 shy of Barack Obama.

The good news? Mr. Amondson comfortably surpassed the 477 votes received by HeartQuake ‘08 Party candidate Jonathan Allen. (And yes, we also assumed that HeartQuake ‘08 was the title of a Loverboy reunion concert tour. Live and learn.)

“Our goal for this election is to remain alive for another year,” said Jim Hedges, secretary of the Prohibition Party’s National Committee. “We don’t need a lot of votes, but we do need to remain visible.”

For Mr. Hedges and other denizens of the political fringe, election seasons are a harsh reminder of a fundamental American political truth: Despite its representative framework, our national government is essentially a duopoly. Republicans and Democrats. Right and left. McDonald’s and Burger King. A binary status quo.

But fear not.

If you’ve ever felt that Washington doesn’t care enough about decriminalizing marijuana, criminalizing tobacco, ending all overseas military commitments or adopting a communist economic policy, don’t fret.

If you’ve ever surveyed the looming challenges facing the republic — high unemployment, higher deficits, an upcoming seventh season of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” — and concluded that what America needs right now is to build a base on Mars, chin up.

And if you’ve ever felt like the problem with Mr. Obama is that he isn’t socialist enough, take heart.

Chances are, there’s a party just for you.

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