Amid all of the tension between the Democrats and Republicans and the focus on candidates Barack Obama and John McCain this fall, one group of voters will cast their vote despite being largely ignored by the mainstream media: those planning to vote for someone else.

Voting for a third party has always carried an implied stigma of sorts, as if not voting for one of the two mainstream parties is somehow wasting your vote.

Conventional advice offered by American politics when one is unsure of which candidate to select is to vote for the lesser of two evils. Karl Poechauer, director of Students for a New Liberty (formerly Students for Ron Paul), a club organized around mostly Libertarian views, disagrees wholeheartedly with that statement.

“We believe [that political views] are up to the individual,” Poechauer said. “It's each person's choice. People say, ‘vote for the lesser of two evils.' We say, ‘Why vote for evil at all when you could vote for qualified candidates like Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin?'”

“We wanted to keep presenting ideas to educate others and maybe shift the national conscience,” he said.

Still, it's a hard message to hear over the overwhelming political machines that rule this season. The AS Review has a guide below for a few of the Third Party candidates running this year.

2008 Third Party Presidential

The Constitution Party
THE CANDIDATE: Chuck Baldwin, a pastor of the Crossroads Baptist Church located in Florida. Baldwin left the Republican Party in 2000 after vocally disagreeing with the selection of George W. Bush to seek independent affiliation with the Constitution Party. His running mate is Darrell Castle, a lawyer and activist from Tennessee.

THE PARTY: The Constitution Party, a fiscally conservative party, was founded in 1992 as the U.S. Taxpayer's Party. The name was changed in 1999. True to their new name, the party favors reforming the Federal Government to adhere strictly to the constitution.

How does this candidate differ from Obama and McCain?
In September, Baldwin authored an essay titled “Another Bailout Picks America's Pockets” in response to the government bailout. Needless to say, he is not in favor of the recent federalization of public assets. He has also said that he would end federal income taxes and slowly phase out the IRS.

Regarding foreign policy, he has pushed for the United States to remove itself from the United Nations in favor of self-preservation. Along the same lines, Baldwin believes that the United States should define civil liberties strictly within the Constitution. As stated in his platform, he is against the 2001 USA Patriot Act. Baldwin also supports the second amendment right to bear arms.

The Green Party
THE CANDIDATE: Cynthia McKinney, former Georgia congresswoman from 1997 to 2003 and 2005 to 2007, was the first black woman to represent Georgia in the House of Representatives. Her running mate is activist and journalist Rosa Clemente.

THE PARTY: According to their Web site, the Green Party is a federation of voters committed to personal responsibility, pursuing non-violent solutions and social justice for all people. The Greens advocate self-sustaining methods of agriculture, business and environmental preservation. However, one common misconception many have about the Green Party is that they focus solely on environmental issues. They have also outlined a plan to adopt universal healthcare, citing that many workers cannot find affordable coverage in the free market.

How does this candidate differ from Obama and McCain?
McKinney believes we have more than enough money to establish government assistance programs if we reallocate our funds. McKinney also favors an end to the war on drugs, an issue often not addressed by the Obama and McCain campaigns. Under her presidency, a national banking system would be created to aid small businesses.

Military-wise, McKinney differs from the traditional party by supporting the removal of not only all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan but also those in US bases abroad. “America has far more to offer the world than our bombs and our missiles and our military technology,” her Web site says.

Libertarian Party
THE CANDIDATE: Bob Barr represented Georgia's 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives where he served as vice chairman of the Government Reform Committee and a senior member of the judiciary committee. Wayne Allyn Root, the Libertarian candidate for Vice President, is a self-made businessmen, television producer and author of six books.

THE PARTY: On the scale of right and left, Libertarians in the most basic terms tend to side with the lassiez-faire economics supported by the Republican Party and the social privacy advocated by Democrats. Libertarians are non-interventional, meaning they support having a strong defense but not military action, except to protect territorial advances. In terms of the economy, the Libertarian party is in favor of drastic reductions to the federal budget. Keeping with their socially liberal values, they also support many civil freedoms, including privacy protection and the unrestricted right to carry lethal weapons for self-defense.

How does this candidate differ from Obama and McCain?
Barr favors reforming or cutting every area of spending in the federal budget, including welfare programs and business subsidies. To put the economy back on track, Barr believes the government should cut every area of federal spending.
Regarding foreign intervention, Barr states on his Web site that, “America should not be the world's policeman.” Barr would put an emphasis on “defense” by recalling troops from American bases around the world, a move he believes would save both lives and money.

Health care would also see drastic reform under a Libertarian presidency. Barr is very clear that he does not support socialized medicine and the national government should not institute health care.

Ralph Nader for President
THE CANDIDATE: Ralph Nader is an attorney from Tennessee, as well as an author and former member of the Green Party. He has campaigned unsuccessfully for the presidency in every election since 1996. His campaign gained media attention in 2000 when some speculated that he received a key number of votes that might have otherwise gone to Democratic candidate Al Gore and that would have elevated him above George W. Bush. His running mate, Matt Gonzalez, is the former deputy attorney of San Francisco and came within six points of being elected mayor in 2003.

THE PARTY: Unlike his campaigns in 1996 and 2000, Nader will not be running on behalf of a larger party. This means that he is running a fully independent campaign, from funding to political platforms. Nader has been a prominent supporter and advocate of social justice for all people. During the 1960s, he began investigating and eventually criticized the automobile industry for what he believed to be unfit safety regulations.

How does this candidate differ from Obama and McCain?
Healthcare would see a boldly different transformation if Nader were to be elected. He believes in covering all Americans through a single payer, government-run health insurance plan. By nationalizing the health industry, Nader believes federal coverage is not only feasible but affordable with the elimination of corporate overhead payments.

Nader's extensive environmental plan calls for an end to subsidies for entrenched oil, nuclear, electric, coal mining and biofuel interests. The money saved from these cuts would be invested in the development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. He would also put an emphasis on renewable energy above ethanol gas.

If elected president, Nader would immediately enact a plan to remove American troops from Iraq within six months and reverse the current policy in the Middle East.