An article in the Los Angeles Times Op/Ed section touched on a very interesting and important issue that deserves due consideration as the 2012 election season approaches – the issue of third parties and third party candidates. Why vote for one when they’re just going to lose to a democrat or republican, right? Apparently, that’s how the majority of voters feel, well at least those who exercise their right to vote. Here’s the first big chunk of the article:
Who wouldn’t want an independent president, who is free from party ideologies and interest groups and able to do what’s right for the country? We can dream, but it won’t happen and we probably don’t want it to, wrote Seth Masket, an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver, and Hans Noel, an assistant professor at Georgetown University, in an Op-Ed piece Wednesday. Independent candidates have a huge disadvantage in the face of the two established parties -– most states use the winner-take-all system for their electoral college, making winning just one state a huge challenge, let alone the nation. And even if an independent candidate was elected president, the debt-ceiling deal, for example, would have been catastrophic without a party already on the president’s side. If you don’t like the way our system works, Masket and Noel wrote, the best way to change things is to get involved and fight for the issues you care about. Here’s an excerpt from their piece:
“All of this seems unfair. Why should these two parties have such an advantage? That’s the wrong way to look at it. The Democrats and the Republicans are not our overlords. They are us. They are the natural creations of politically concerned citizens who want to make a difference. And because in a democracy, the more people you have, the more chance you have of making a difference, parties organize together to have strength in numbers.
That is democracy: people joining together, compromising among themselves to arrive at policies, and trying to get those policies enacted.”
The Times goes on to point out that many of the readers who felt compelled to comment were markedly more optimistic about a third party’s opportunity to develop a successful campaign, with strong grassroots support, that is. One of the more poignant readers commented:
If you disagree, the best thing to do is vote for the third party
Boycotting the election sends the very simple message that you’re fine with whichever one of the state parties wins. If you hate the major parties, the best thing you can do with your vote is to reliably vote third party in every election – this sends a message of genuine discontent, while abstaining sends a resounding ‘meh.’ […]
Deekoo makes a valid point. So many people, especially socially-aware young people, choose to abstain from the process at all, either due to a crippling sense of apathy or to a general disdain for the pervasive ineffectiveness of the whole process in their view. It’s not too difficult to see why they would just give up on the whole show, but look back at what this Times commentator says. By electing to abstain from the process, you’re choosing to accept whatever happens without your participation, which is far less beneficial than your other alternative – actually voting for a third party candidate. And here is where it gets tricky for the average citizen, meaning one who doesn’t frequent political fora or actively engage in political discussions (which you should be doing, by the way). The reason that it can become difficult is because third party candidates are often left out of televised debates because, get this one, those televised debates are sponsored by the democratic and republican parties. A lot of a people don’t seem to realize that.
When you really look at it, it breaks down in a relatively simple way. The large corporations, many of which own large media divisions, look to financially support political candidates that have their best interest in mind, i.e. allowing them to make more profit. So it’s in the media corporation’s best interest to only show the candidates that support their agenda, whether they be democrat or republican. What the media will not show you is the third party candidate who wants to tax them with higher rates, even if that’s a candidate that you might be interested in voting for.
So that means that if you want something different than the demo-republican stuff you’ve been getting for so many years, you need to do your homework and vote for a third party candidate. I believe Green Party USA, the Libertarian Party, and the Independent Party are the largest third parties, and therefore have the greatest chance of getting on the ballot.
There’s a large percentage of people who don’t vote for a republican or democratic candidate, something like 37% of the American population – the people who don’t vote at all. I’m guessing that a lot of those people are apathetic opt-outers. If these people realized that they could powerfully and directly influence policy making in both their local, state, and national governments, then they would probably be more likely to vote. The good news is that you do have that power. Now that power just needs to be used.
You can read the LA Times article I mentioned in its entirety HERE.
You just have to look for a party that shares your convictions
(Oh – and happy 100th post to me :))