I love a good party. And this is the time of the year for one.

I'm not talking about those boring Republicans and Democrats, who get to hog the spotlight and donated goodies while holding democracy in a headlock. I'm talking about the true believers -- the people who think they can challenge the bloated, archaic way we do things now.

Now that's a party.

You likely have heard about the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Maybe you know of the Peace and Freedom folks (Roseanne Barr is their nominee), or Ross Perot's Reform Party. You know the tea party, because its members have those big signs alongside the freeway, screaming that the president is going to need a new job soon.

Speaking of socialists from Kenya, you may even know there's actually a Socialist Party running a candidate for the presidency, which may or may not be legal in some states. Unlike other countries, saying the word "socialist" here is like dropping an F-bomb on someone's sweet, unsuspecting grandma.

A head start

The Socialist Party is not to be confused with the Socialist Workers Party, whose members apparently have jobs. Nor should it be confused with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which does have a nominee named Peta Lindsay. She's 28 years old, which means that she's not old enough to hold the job (35 is the minimum age), according to the Constitution. Well, it's never too early to start planning for that big job if you really want it.

As a cynical pessimist, I find it fascinating that so many people get fired up every four years to challenge the two-party system. Why not? I really do find it admirable. The current political machine is so big that it takes a special kind of person to stand in front of it demanding an overhaul.

For example, one guy is so enthusiastic (Tom Hoefling) that he's reportedly the nominee of two parties (America's Party and the American Independent Party). I'm not sure how that would work if they were bigger parties. It might be really entertaining if he had to debate himself on television. He actually has two different running mates -- one per party, which I think would be like having two wives.

The Brimley factor

There's the Objectivist Party, which seeks to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy and wants to repeal the federal income tax. It isn't quite as interesting as the American Third Position Party, whose nominee is named Merlin Miller, an independent filmmaker who allegedly said that Hollywood is under "Jewish-Zionist" control (according to Wikipedia, which is always right, he once made a movie featuring Wilfred Brimley and Boxcar Willie).

There's the Modern Whig Party, which was founded by former troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and espouses states' rights. It also has a blue and red owl for a logo, which makes at least as much sense as having an elephant or a donkey as a mascot.

There's also the Prohibition Party, which is against alcohol, gambling and most things having to do with "vice." Coincidentally, it makes me wonder what the "vice president" is really in charge of.

So we really can't complain about not having enough choices on election day. And if the dozens of smaller parties out there don't work for you, you can always get your own party started. With the way things are going, more people may show up than you expect.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com or at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks.