Presidential front-runners including a self-identified Democratic socialist, a Republican mainstream Republicans love to hate and a reality TV star are proof the American voting public is unhappy with the two major parties, say the pundits, and it could look disloyal for a person in my position to disagree.
I couldn't help wondering what Wisconsin's long-ignored third parties think about this year's bizarro campaign. Do they see an opening for their own candidates, or are members interested in one of the outside-the-mainstream major-party candidates? Maybe Greens for Bernie Sanders, or Constitution Party members for Ted Cruz, who as a child apparently memorized the constitution.
Lord knows a voter's mind can run wild speculating about all the alternative political movements -- past and present -- that might support Donald Trump's candidacy. Maybe as one of its least funny practical jokes ever, UW-Madison's old Pale and Shovel Party would have endorsed him.
In Wisconsin, five political parties are already assured slots on the ballot, according to the Government Accountability Board. In addition the Republicans and Democrats, the Greens, Libertarians and Constitution Party will also have an opportunity to fill in a box beside the names of their presidential nominees.
The Socialism and Liberation Party and Socialist Equality Party also offered candidates in 2012. If they or other parties want their names on the 2016 ballot, they've got to collect 10,000 signatures each, including at least 1,000 from at least three different congressional districts. If they simply want their candidates' names on the ballot as "independents," they need to collect between 2,000 and 4,000 signatures.
The Libertarians' 2012 presidential nominee, former New Mexico Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, was by far the biggest winner among the third parties that, garnering more than 20,000 votes. He's a front-runner among nine hopefuls for the party's nomination this year, too, according to Phil Anderson, the state party vice chair and his party's candidates for U.S. Senate.
Anderson agrees that the current crop of major-party candidates is proof of voters' disgust with the system.
"Voters in primaries aren't actually choosing the candidates," he said, when the parties' nominating rules allows for the possibility of delegates voting for whatever candidates they want.
He considers the major-party primary process mostly an opportunity for the two major parties to raise money.
"What we're seeing is that the party establishments are becoming obsolete," said Dave Schwab, a member of the state's Green Party coordinating committee who works for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
Stein -- one of five Greens vying for the party's nomination this year -- also ran in 2012, bringing in the second-most votes, or ???, among third-party candidates in Wisconsin.
Schwab reports "already seeing surging interest in the Green Party this year," as evidenced by the speed with which Stein reached the threshold for applying for federal campaign matching funds and the interest mainstream media outlets such as NBC and ABC have shown in her campaign.
There are this many parties likely to have a candidate ???
Third parties and their tru
But if the choices come Election Day turn out to be
At least you'll have a reason to still respect yourself on the morning after Election Day.