Column: Presidential Candidates' Stances In Brief

This story was written by Shane Nassiri, Daily Toreador

There are only 21 days left before the election. If you are not sure who you are going to vote for yet, you don't need to flip a coin to decide.

There are more than two candidates to pick from this Nov. 4. Specifically, there are six candidates on enough state ballots to theoretically win the required number of electoral votes. All appear on the Texas ballot.

Instead of flipping a coin this semester, try rolling the dice! Simply assign the candidates numbers one through six, roll the die and cast your vote accordingly.

But if you want to know a little something about just who it is you are exercising your democratic rights for, I've conveniently compiled a summary of the candidates and their positions in brief.

Barack Obama, Democratic Party

Running mate Joe Biden

Illinois Senator

Opposes Iraq War, and has called for a renewed focus in Afghanistan

Opposes Bush's tax cuts, but supports a middle-class tax cut

Supports affordable, accessible health care that builds on existing plans

John McCain, Republican Party

Running mate Sarah Palin

Arizona Senator

Against withdrawing from Iraq before the country is stabilized

Wants to create new jobs and keep taxes low to help economy

Supports investment in all alternative energy areas as well as new domestic drilling to meet energy demands

Bob Barr, Libertarian Party

Running mate Wayne Root

Former Republican Congressman from Georgia

Outspoken critic of Bush administration

Voted for the Iraq War and Patriot act, but now publicly regrets those votes

Wants to cut government spending and restore civil liberties infringed upon during the Bush administration

Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party

Running mate Darrell Castle

Pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.

Criticizes the Christian Right's blind support for the Bush administration and other Republican candidates

Opposes the Iraq War

Wary of globalist policies and increasing size of government

Cynthia McKinney, Green Party

Running Mate Rosa

Clemente

Former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia

Against the Iraq War

Concern for the environment and human rights

Supports repeal of legislation such as the PATRIOT act that infringes civil liberties

Ralph Nader, Independent

Running mate Matt Gonzalez

Third bid for presidency since 2000 and 2004

Consumer rights advocate

Supports withdrawal from Iraq and impeachment for Bush/Cheney

Supports a single payer national health insurance program

By no means are these short lists a comprehensive look at where these candidates stand in relation to one another. Take an hour or so and Google their names to find out more.

Are any of these candidates perfect? By no means. You will likely find negative points about all of them. But before you crinkle your nose at any bad taste a third party candidate might leave in your mouth, recall that the two "mainstream" candidates are loaded with so many negative points it is impossible to discern truth from fiction.

Another thing to consider: If you are running on a third-party platform, it has to be for reasons other than political gain. If you are eeking only to advance your own political career, you'll likely have a much easier time as a Democrat or a Republican, as an establishment candidate. Third party candidates are running on principles.

Also, there is the old argument that if you vote for a third-party candidate, you are wasting your vote. Well, what about all the people that vote for Obama in Texas? McCain is guaranteed to win Texas, soare they wasting their vote by voting for Obama? No! They are voting for a candidate that they believe in.

As John Quincy Adams said, "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." The only vote that is wasted is the one that isn't cast.

If you find that the Democrat or Republican best represents your views, great, you are a voter voting in favor of a candidate rather than against another candidate.

In any case, take the time to learn who all these people are and what they represent. Real change is on the ballot this November.