Among the contenders vying to be our next president are a Christian socialist philosopher, a dating app founder, a pair of rappers, and a traditionalist Catholic YouTuber.
As the primary season for the 2024 Presidential Election heats up, most people’s attention is focused on the major party candidates.
On the Democratic side, incumbent President Joe Biden is seeking re-election. While a heavy favorite to be re-nominated, he faces a few long-shot challengers such as, most notably, attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump currently leads the field for Republicans but faces multiple intraparty opponents. Polls indicate that the candidate closest to denying Trump the nomination is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is less than a year removed from a landslide re-election victory.
Other notable Republicans in the race include former Vice-President Mike Pence and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who both served in the Trump administration, Senator Tim Scott, former Governor Chris Christie, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
However, a diverse array of Americans outside the two major parties have also thrown their hats in the ring. A recent NBC News poll showed that 44% of Americans would consider voting for a third-party candidate. This includes 45% of Democrats but only 34% of Republicans.
Here is a list of a few of the currently declared 2024 third-party candidates.
NOTE: The below list does not include potential candidates who might launch third-party campaigns in the near future, such as moderate Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV.
Described as a “Christian socialist,” Cornel West, Ph.D., has been an influential figure in left-wing circles for several decades. Now 70, the New York City-based academic and philosopher is serving as the “Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary.” He is also known as the author of the books “Race Matters,” “Democracy Matters,” and “Black Prophetic Fire.”
West has one million followers on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) and describes himself in his bio for the app as “1 of America’s most provocative public intellectuals; a champion for racial justice through the traditions of the black Church, progressive politics, & jazz.”
His campaign slogan is “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
West’s campaign website divides his policy positions into three categories:
Due to his name recognition and the fact that he is beloved by many on the hard left, West’s candidacy has been compared to Ralph Nader’s 2000 bid.
Several members of the Democratic Party have implied that West’s candidacy threatens Biden’s re-election chances. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-MA, stated “I’ve followed him for many, many years, but I just wish he wasn’t doing it.”
Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill:
I think he has a very long record of service and academic thought leadership. I think just right now, given the Electoral College, it’s very difficult to square the very real threat of a Republican presidency … [with] the risk of giving up the very small margin of electoral votes needed to ensure that President Biden wins.
West and Ocasio-Cortez are both members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
West still has yet to win the nomination of the Green Party. He is also running for the recently-formed left-wing People’s Party.
Jill Stein, who was the Green Party nominee in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, is his campaign manager.
The third-largest party in the United States is the Libertarian Party. Represented by a porcupine, it received a record 4.5 million votes (amounting to just over 3% of the electorate) in the 2016 Presidential Election, with the candidacy of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson’s showing was the best for a third-party candidate in two decades.
As of August 6, 2023, five candidates are running for the 2024 Libertarian nod. The most interesting and unconventional of the bunch appears to be Lars Mapstead, the co-founder of FriendFinder Networks, which has been variously described as an “adult entertainment” and “online dating” company.
Mapstead, who is running on the slogan “Unrig the System,” is particularly active on X, where he has amassed over 30,000 followers.
One of his posts from May, in which he vowed to “reboot America,” was viewed over a million times and received over 55,000 “likes” in just over two months.
Mapstead’s “unrig” platform promises to “Unrig Our Elections” with increased election integrity and reform measures, “Unrig the Economy” by abolishing the IRS and central banking in addition to replacing the federal income tax with a consumption tax, and “Unrig Healthcare” by reducing costs and increasing privatization.
Another contender for the Libertarian nomination is Jacob Hornberger, a perennial candidate who was the runner-up for the party’s nomination in 2020 and placed third in 2000.
Two of the party’s other candidates have also previously sought office. Chase Oliver was the Libertarian nominee for the 2022 Georgia U.S. Senate Election, and Mike ter Maat was the party’s candidate for January 2022 special election for a heavily Democratic House seat in south Florida. Oliver received 2% of the vote in his bid, faring slightly better than ter Maat, who tallied less than 1%.
Rounding out the party’s field is Joshua Smith, who briefly served as the Vice-Chair of the Libertarian National Committee.
Peter Sonski, a 61-year-old school board member from Connecticut, is running as the nominee of the American Solidarity Party (ASP). Founded in 2011, the ASP is a relatively new party that embraces the idea of “common good” politics and is partially rooted in Catholic social teaching. It is represented by a pelican, a symbol of charity.
Sonski, who is one of the ASP’s four elected officials, has a background in Catholic journalism, having served as an assistant editor of the National Catholic Register. He was also the communications director for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., for 8 years.
In addition to his current school board post, his local politics career also includes time spent as a town selectman and chairman of a municipal finance board.
Sonski’s slogan is “Pro-life, Pro-Family, and Pro-Worker.” His platform states, “Life is a gift, and its protection is the preeminent right of every human being. Abortion is the direct killing of human life; euthanasia is the abandonment of human life… The ASP must be a loud mouthpiece, championing respect for human life at all its ages and stages.”
Believing in a “community-oriented” and family-centered society, Sonski supports family tax credits.
According to the ASP nominee’s campaign website:
Having been both a Democrat and a Republican in his voting lifetime, Peter has been unaffiliated for more than 20 years. His faith informs his public policy views, especially life and social justice issues.
Running as a pro-life and pro-family candidate, Sonski highlights his own large family, which includes nine children and six grandchildren.
Skonski’s running mate is Lauren Onak, a homemaker who teaches natural family planning (NFP).
Founded in 1869 and represented by a camel, the Prohibition Party is the third-oldest active political party in the United States, following the Democrats and the Republicans. In its history, it sent one person to Congress: Charles H. Randall, who left office in 1921.
The party has already selected as its 2024 nominee Michael Wood of California, whose campaign website describes him as the “recently retired CEO of a multinational company.” Wood’s running mate is former postal worker John Pietrowski of Ohio.
For its entire existence, the Prohibition Party’s “signature issue” has been its opposition to alcohol. The party’s platform states:
The use of alcohol and other recreational drugs is not only a personal, but a broader social issue. The individual, and their right to drink if they wish, is not the cause – rather, the cause is the underlying organized liquor traffic and the subordination of uniformed Americans for profit.
The party is generally seen as socially conservative and fiscally liberal.
Though widely considered to be one of the most talented musical artists of the 21st century, Ye’s political career has not taken off. The controversial rapper famously ran in the last presidential election receiving 66,641 votes – good for a seventh-place finish.
Ye, who legally changed his name to “Ye” in 2021, has struggled with mental health issues over the years and has made multiple anti-Semitic remarks. His 2024 campaign has been described as being in chaos, and one of its advisors is white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
Ye is not the only rapper in the race, as Joseph “Afroman” Foreman has also declared his candidacy. Primarily known for his early-2000s hits “Because I Got High” and “Crazy Rap,” Foreman supports decriminalizing marijuana, ending all foreign aid, reparations for slavery, the legalization of prostitution, and tax incentives for sports celebrations.
Last but not least is a name familiar among many Catholics. Taylor Marshall, Ph.D., a former Episcopal priest who converted to Catholicism in 2006, is known for his YouTube channel, which has a half million subscribers as of August 6, 2023. There, he promotes the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), Catholic apologetics, and conservative politics.
Due to his “over 100 million downloads,” Marshall describes himself as “the most-viewed Catholic YouTube podcaster.”
Marshall is the author of several books that have made bestseller lists, such as “Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within” and “Antichrist and Apocalypse: The 21 Prophecies of Revelation Unveiled and Described.”
Though Marshall supported then-President Trump in the last election as part of “Catholics for Trump,” he is now running against him on the independent “Christ the King platform.”
In his May announcement video, Marshall declared:
I am also running for president in 2024 on the Christ the King platform. Do I expect to win? I can’t answer that question, but I think we need a candidate who comes out and says: abortion should be illegal, no-fault divorce should be illegal, contraception should be illegal. We need a Christian culture in America. We don’t need secularism. We don’t need strict separation [of] Church and state.
We need a candidate who’s going to say that. No one on the Republican GOP ticket’s ever going to say that. So, I’m going to run, and I’m going to say all those things, and we’ll see what happens.