While the following is far from all of the recognized third parties in American politics, the Libertarian, Reform, Green and Constitution Parties are usually the most active in presidential elections.
Founded in 1971, the Libertarian party is the third largest political party in America. Over the years, Libertarian Party candidates have been elected to many state and local offices.
Libertarians believe the federal government should play a minimal role in the day-to-day affairs of the people. They believe that the only appropriate role of government is to protect the citizens from acts of physical force or fraud. A libertarian-style government would therefore limit itself to a police, court, prison system and military. Members support free market economy and are dedicated to protection of civil liberties and individual freedom.
In 1992, Texan H. Ross Perot spent over $60 million of his own money to run for president as an independent. Perot's national organization, know as "United We Stand America" succeeded in getting Perot on the ballot in all 50 states. Perot won 19 percent of the vote in November, the best result for a third party candidate in 80 years. Following the 1992 election, Perot and "United We Stand America" organized into the Reform Party. Perot again ran for president as the Reform Party candidate in 1996 winning 8.5 percent of the vote.
As its name implies, Reform Party members are dedicated to reforming the American political system. They support candidates they feel will "re-establish trust" in government by displaying high ethical standards coupled with fiscal responsibility and accountability.
The American Green Party's platform is based on the following 10 Key Values:
"Greens seek to restore balance through recognizing that our planet and all of life are unique aspects of an integrated whole, and also through affirming the significant inherent values and contribution of each part of that whole." The Green Party - Hawaii
In 1992, American Taxpayer Party presidential candidate Howard Phillips appeared on the ballot in 21 states. Mr. Phillips again ran in 1996, achieving ballot access in 39 states. At its national convention in 1999, the party officially changed its name to the "Constitution Party" and again chose Howard Phillips as its presidential candidate for 2000.
The Constitution Party favors a government based a strict interpretation of the Constitution and the principals expressed in it by the Founding Fathers. They support a government limited in scope, structure and power of regulation over the people. Under this goal, the Constitution Party favors a return of most governmental powers to the states, communities and the people.