When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke
By: sp34n119w , 8:14 PM GMT on October 23, 2012
So, in the last presidential election, I wrote a lot about third party candidates. I made no secret of the fact that I would vote for Nader/Gonzales that year, and I did. Nader isn't running this time around but I still have choices.
I have no illusions regarding the possibility of a third party candidate winning the Presidency. That will not happen. The idea is to change the current, dysfunctional, system that leaves so many of us without representation.
So, another reason to vote third party is simply to voice one's own personal views on the issues of the day, especially those which are not being properly addressed by the two major parties. The two parties are, if you have not noticed, virtually identical in every way – if not in their official platforms, then definitely in their actions. By voting for someone else, someone outside of the machine, one can send the message that there are citizens who are paying attention to that fact.
I realize that the media portrays third party voters in a very different light (if they mention us at all!). Third party voters and their candidates are … what? Immature, irresponsible, silly, unrealistic, spoilers, and really ought to be ignored except when some comic relief is needed. Well, that's what happens to those who buck the status quo, so, that's okay.
While third party candidates have no shot at the Presidency, they do sometimes have a chance to win races at the local and State level, and even House and Senate contests. These are important, too, as was noted in the comments of the last blog here and, particularly, in the video that calpoppy brought about ALEC and their work in State legislatures. It's also important because every win at these levels lends strength to that party and legitimacy to the whole idea of Thirds.
The Thirds are more likely to address the issues that affect the average citizen day-to-day, and they are willing and able to talk about real problems and real solutions because, frankly, they've got nothing to lose by doing so. Now, they don't agree on what the solutions are, obviously, but at least they are often willing to consider working on them.
Even if they don't get elected, by raising these issues they can bring them into the public consciousness and, sometimes, force those who are elected to face those issues, themselves.
The current voting system supports a two-party political system. It is bound to push all candidates towards one or another extreme position as they compete for the same voters. Right now, all candidates skew far Right but, 50-70 years ago, all candidates skewed Left (read Nixon's positions on just about everything and shudder at the realization that Obama is far Right of that). We can get a pretty good balance going for awhile, so that it looks like a real choice, but it will always swing again. These swings necessarily disenfranchise large blocks of citizens.
We can talk more about this in the comments. In the meantime, have a look at RangeVoting.org and see what you think about that voting system.
Nationally, the largest thirds are Libertarian, Constitution, and Green. Each of them have fielded candidates for President and each has had some success at local and State levels over the years. They don't get a lot of attention.
As of 2008, here in California (the media's poster child for Liberalism), the Constitution Party had more than twice the membership of the Green Party. Add in the Libertarians and it becomes clear why we so often elect Republican Governors and House Reps. Californians are quite conservative, politically, but very divided in that conservatism. What about your State?
Wikipedia's entry on U.S. Political parties.
The census bureau's copious election and affiliation statistics.
I expect some randomness to creep (or barge) into the comments (as usual and much appreciated) but feel free to discuss the OP or your own political topics, too. I'd be happy to hear about State races and about any interesting referendums or propositions, if you've got something to say and need a place to say it. Probably I'll say my piece about one or more propositions on the Cali ballot, myself.
It's almost over, friends!
For the bigger picture, have a look at the NE Pac WVloop.
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