A collective groan escaped the mouths of establishment Republicans Thursday when real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump was named the party's presumptive nominee. Across the aisle, many Democrats are less than thrilled with the idea front-runner Hillary Clinton will likely snag the nomination from Sen. Bernie Sanders. For those who think the 2016 presidential election will boil down to a choice between the lesser of two evils, it's time to get to know your independent presidential candidates. There are over a dozen 2016 presidential candidates you might not have heard of — like Jill Stein, John McAfee, Samm Tittle, and so many more.
The American media has a long history of wearing blinders when it comes to party affiliation and presidential elections. Even as studies show more and more voters identify as independent, Democratic and Republican contests and candidates dominate the pre-election news cycle while lesser-known candidates remain exactly that. It's on you to learn more about the candidates that are running for president without wall-to-wall CNN coverage, super PACs, or any other stepladders to the finishing line.
Head to the polls fully informed about all your presidential candidates this year (as if you would cast your ballot any other way). Here are the 16 independent presidential candidates gunning for the White House in 2016:
The Green Party
The Green Party formally recognized two candidates for its 2016 presidential nomination race Wednesday: 2012 nominee Jill Stein and William (Bill) Kreml. Although the party won't select its official nominee until its Presidential Nomination Convention in Houston on Aug. 6, Stein currently has delegate lead so massive even Kreml admitted she'll "probably" win. Stein's campaign platform might sound a bit familiar to Sanders supporters. The Massachusetts physician has said she is running a "people-powered campaign" focused on breaking up big banks, raising the federal minimum wage, tuition-free public higher education, and of course climate change reform.
The Libertarian Party
Running for president under the Libertarian Party are Austin Petersen, Kevin McCormick, Gary Johnson, and John McAfee, whose name will undoubtedly sound familiar if you've ever owned a PC with anti-virus software. Johnson, however, is projected to be the party's nominee this year. The former New Mexico governor ran as the party's official candidate in 2012 after his bid for the GOP nomination fell flat and his 2016 campaign has reportedly gained serious traction after Trump was named the presumptive GOP nominee. Defined as pro-guns, pro-choice, and an advocate for free trade and open borders, Johnson could push the Libertarian Party into the spotlight as a third-party option come November.
Running as independents this year are Lynn Kahn, J.W. Scroggie, and Samm Tittle. They get little, if any, media coverage. Kahn, a psychologist, has never appeared on a presidential election ballot before but is looking to make the government more efficient. Scroggie's campaign hit some financial bumps early on but is now "touring every state bringing Music, Art, and Political Freedom," according to his official website. Tittle appears to be a working-class candidate with an anti-establishment platform that is pro-life, pro-guns, anti-gay marriage, and anti-Obamacare.
There are at least seven additional candidates running for president through smaller fringe parties this year. Some of them, like comedian Roseanne Barr (yes, that Roseanne), you've heard of, but the majority of them have likely never crossed your radar before. Barr, who ran for president in 2012, is running again as the official nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. Representing the Constitution Party is Baptist minister Scott Copeland.
With a campaign heavy on the teetotalism (no really, he claims bars near college campuses "are the source of gang rapes, property destruction, failing grades, and lost careers") is Jim Hedges of the Prohibition Party. Mimi Soltysik will appear on the ballot for the Socialist Party USA while Monica Moorehead runs under the Workers World Party.
Former Democrat David Sponheim will for the second time as the official candidate of America's Third Party, which he started in 2008. Rounding out the list is the Transhumanist Party's Zoltan Istvan, who drives a coffin and argues for enhancing and extending human life with science.
With 16 lesser-known presidential candidates set to appear on November's ballot, It can't be said we're lacking in options. We're practically swimming in them. Whether we're left with any good options, however, is a whole different story.