There are more than two parties, ya know?

By Becca Hoekstra
The Guardsman
Oh, the Presidential Election. You bring me such joy. Not.The debates are in full swing.Policies are being passed around left and right on the usual–jobs, taxes, health care, debt, foreign policy. All important topics, certainly, that affect us in various and significant ways.But since we’re going to be voting as politically-aware students, it’s time to focus on the presidential candidates’ views on higher education.

For some reason, there’s this weird and explosive myth going around that there are only two presidential candidates.

While coverage of these two parties has been so extensive it has even covered vice-presidential pre-debate meals–a truly important factor in your voting decision–there are four other presidential nominees who have the potential to capture enough electoral votes to throw the presidential race into the House of Representatives.

Just goes to show, you can’t trust the media. Cough.

Bypassing the two parties everyone won’t shut up about for a moment, let’s head on over to the Libertarian party, the third-largest in the United States, and candidate Gary Johnson.

As one would expect, this party follows ideals of libertarianism, meaning small government and minimally regulated markets.

In alignment with those ideals, the Libertarian party believes school funding should NEVER be provided by the government–only by parents and the individuals themselves.

Tax-funded and government-provided education would be abolished, as would compulsory education (meaning all those mandatory classes). If college wasn’t so horribly expensive and private student loans so completely outrageous, this might be a better vote.

Next up, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. She believes in eliminating tuition for public colleges and universities, and forgiving student debt across the board.

Now, while I’m all for the first one–since a college degree has become essential for economic security–I lack the economic expertise (as do many economists) to foresee the outcome of forgiving student debt entirely, as much as I think it sounds like an awesome idea.

I’m not going to shed any tears over the banks or Sallie Mae losing profits–but it would decimate the future of student loans, which some people do need.

According to Stein, though, if we can forgive the banks, we can offer a bailout to students. (We’d probably get along.)

The last of our third-party candidates is Rocky Anderson with the Justice Party–which doesn’t accept corporate funding, isn’t that neat?

Anderson also wants to provide free four-year education, as well as comparable job training, as a right for all. The Justice Party wants to enact a financial transaction tax that would also provide revenue for education.

And now . . . onto the Republican party. Oh, Mitt Romney.

While Romney says he wants to provide broader access to higher education, he has no plans to increase federal funding for education (the theory is that more money being provided by the government for college, the higher college tuition costs will rise).

Romney’s running mate calls for a 20 percent reduction for education via the domestic budget. Romney himself wants to raise eligibility requirements on Pell grants and doesn’t support the DREAM Act.

And in the Democratic corner, Barack Obama has an income-based student loan repayment plan that would cap repayments at 10% of an individual’s income, which would be really nice.

Obama also wants more money poured into federal aid for low-income students. But he, like Romney, the Constitution party or the Libertarians, doesn’t have a plan for actually reducing college costs.

And NO ONE is talking about getting consumer protections back on student loans–like, you know, the basic ability to discharge it in bankruptcy. What’s up with that?

Vote well, my minions. I can’t wait for this crap to be over.

Follow Hoekstra on Twitter: @heartbreak_news

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