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Opinion | Presidentially, Two Parties Is Plenty

Some of the third-party candidates you want to watch out for are the ones with great name recognition and no qualifications whatsoever. For instance, Kanye West is going to be running for president in some states, like Colorado and Minnesota, as the one and only candidate of — are you ready? — the Birthday Party.

The rapper’s wife says he’s been suffering from “pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder.” Nevertheless, Republicans are extremely enthusiastic about the possibility that West will draw votes from young and Black voters who normally would opt for Joe Biden.

Really, people, nobody wants to go there.

These days Republicans tend to be third-party fans, possibly because so many of the ones with ballot lines have names that sound liberal and would presumably dilute support from the Democrats. In Montana, hundreds of people who signed petitions to put Green Party candidates on the ballot asked for their names to be removed after they learned the Republicans had secretly invested $100,000 in a signature-gathering effort for the Greens. Look at the tightest Senate races around the country and you’ll find many of them feature a Democrat and a Republican, locked in close battle, plus lines for additional competition with names like Green or Libertarian.

To be fair, there are a whole lot of parties out there. Lord knows who their names will appeal to. In Michigan, where Democratic Senator Gary Peters is in a tough race, his opponents include candidates from the Republican, Natural Law and U.S. Taxpayers Parties, which certainly gives voters a panorama of possibilities. In Colorado, where Republican Cory Gardner is in a tight spot, the competition includes the Libertarian, Green, Unity and Approval Voting Party.

When you’re counting the parties, by the way, don’t forget the Constitution Party, whose presidential nominee, Don Blankenship, is the former C.E.O. of a mining company who spent a year in jail after one of the company’s mines in West Virginia exploded, killing 29 people. Really. He’s on the ballot in 21 states.

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