Sunday, June 17, 2007

Give 'Em the Bird, Vote For a Third!

Like many people, I've come to the sad realization that the two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have not, in general, been acting in the best interests of the people who voted them into office. But, for reasons passing understanding, even though many Americans are not simply dissatisfied, but disgusted with their Congress, they keep voting the bastards back in. They do it because they think that their own Senators and Representatives are not part of the problem. Little do they realize how much gets done outside the eye of the public. The Senate likes to talk about coming to the floor and "debating" a bill, but the truth is that the "debate" happens behind closed doors and what takes place on the Senate floor is for show. I would be truly surprised if any Senator's vote was ever changed by anything said during the floor debate portion of the show. (Same with the House of Representatives.)

Then there's campaign finance reform. Very few Members of Congress (and when I phrase it that way, I am referring to both Houses) have made any effort to change the way federal elections are financed. That's because they made it good for themselves. They rigged the system to give themselves a huge advantage over any challengers. And they didn't do that for us, they did it for themselves. The most obvious explanation is that they fear having to justify you sending them back to Congress, so they make it as difficult as possible for third party candidates to gain any foothold on the electorate. Part of the overall difficulty comes from the individual states and what they require to get on the ballot. But most of it is because of what the Democrats and Republicans have done over the years (going waaaaay back) at both the state and federal level. Well, I say it's time we changed that.

Whenever someone mentions that they might for a third party candidate, they are too often met with the attitude, "Well, if you want to waste your vote, that's your right." I don't understand that. How exactly is voting for the candidate you think will best represent you a "wasted vote"? Isn't ours supposed to be a democracy? Doesn't that mean that everyone who is allowed to vote casts their vote for the person of their choice? And the irony is that the ones who most vocally claim that by not voting for a Democrat or a Republican you are wasting your vote are............wait for it......the Democrats and Republicans! Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Well, there is something we can all do to change things, but it's gonna take courage, and lots of it. And it's a gamble because if only part of the country does it, we risk not only the possibility that the guy we want out stays in, but we might also get the guy from the other major party in there instead. Then we'd be right back to square one. What you have to do takes several steps, and you should begin at least a month or two before the primaries.

First, understand that politics is about compromise. You can't always get what you want, so you have to give a little to the other views and let them have something they want. Then the final bill will contain things that make everyone happy. Of course, it will contain things that make some people unhappy, but that's the nature of politics and I don't believe there's any way of getting around it, unless you want to give up on the whole democracy thing. Remember what George W. Bush said, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier... just so long as I'm the dictator." Is that what you'd prefer? Didn't think so.

Second, do some research on what other political parties exist in your state. Not all parties operate in every state, but some are around in almost all of them. But since we're not talking about a presidential election, we don't have to worry about whether or not the party you like can get on the ballot in all fifty states. You are only concerned about doing your job of replacing your own Democrats and Republicans.

Third, find out what each party in your state stands for. Some are limited in what they are trying to achieve (saving the whales, ending all abortions, etc.), while some are very broad in their goals (tax reform, education reform, foreign policy, etc.) Find one that would best represent what you believe in. After all, you are trying to get someone in there who will do what you want, not what everybody else you know wants. Remember, you are voting for YOUR representation, not anybody else's. In our system, we agree to let the one with the most votes get the job. (If you find a party you like but it isn't putting up a candidate, contact them and ask why. You may want to consider putting yourself up as their candidate. Why not? Sure seems like a cushy job, doesn't it? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. We're doing all this to change that.) Keep in mind that it is entirely likely that there will still be a lot of Dem's and Repub's left in Congress (because not enough voters have courage), so you'll want to figure out which of the two parties your candidate would caucus with. For example, there are conservative libertarians (Ron Paul), and there are liberal libertarians (Wayne A. Schneider). Mr. Paul would caucus with the leftover Republicans and I would caucus with the leftover Democrats. Most Americans are more libertarian than authoritarian (like the 28%-ers who still support Bush), so a libertarian candidate might, at first, appeal to both liberals and conservatives. If a libertarian candidate seems to be getting the support of everyone, you might want to try to figure out why he's getting support from the other type of libertarian than you. If you can't find a political party whose platform suits your needs, then look around for any independent candidates who have signaled one way or another that they will be in the race. Contact their campaign headquarters and learn about them. They might be the one for you.

Fourth, find out who the people trying to get that party's nomination are. This is important because you want to make sure that the candidate that party chooses will stick to that party's platform. (In my state of New York, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are strong enough to be able to get candidates on the ballot each year. So we have those alternatives.) Also, the Democratic and Republican candidate might also get the nomination of another party. If so, when it comes time to vote, vote them on the third party line. A candidate running as a Democrat and a Liberal might get more votes on the Liberal line then on the Democrat line. (To be honest, I don't know if any or all states break down a candidate's votes by party. The candidate is still entitled to all the votes from both parties, but one might get a lot more than the other.) If so, then he might have to go down to Washington as a Liberal and not a Democrat. Don't forget to formally register with that party, especially if you are currently registered as an Independent (which many of us are.) If you don't, you might not be allowed to vote in the primary for the person you want. (Rules vary by state. Contact your local Commissioner of Elections to find the rules in your state.)

Fifth, find out which candidate that party intends to put up for the next election. If they're not putting anyone up, then consider running yourself. Learn what you can about the candidate. (If it's you, then find out as much about yourself as anyone looking into your past would find out. If there's dirt, someone is likely to find it. So be prepared to answer questions about it.
Reporter: Mr. Schneider, is it true that in college you once tried to marry a mule?
Schneider: Once? No.

Sixth, find out if that party's candidate will be invited to any debates. Some parties, other than the two major ones, have been around long enough and are strong enough to get their candidate on the ballot every year, so they would likely be invited to any debates. If they aren't being invited, ask why. (This is especially true of independent candidates.) Contact the sponsor of the debate and tell them that you would like to see your chosen candidate at the debate. You alone might not be able to make the difference (unless the person you're complaining to is a friend of yours), but many, many of you from that district calling in could change the debate sponsor's mind. Make sure you pay close attention to what your candidate says in that debate. This may help you convince others to vote for your candidate.

Seventh, Election Day! (It should be a federal holiday, but, as the old folks say, "That's a topic for another thread." Well, the ones that are hip to today's technology say that.) As you step up to the booth, take a deep breath, pull back the curtain behind you, and VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATE OF YOUR CHOICE! And if the Democratic candidate is running on another line (like the Liberal, the Green, or some other) and the Republican is running on another line (such as Conservative, Right to Life, or some other), and you like the way the way they've been representing you, then vote for them on the third party line. They'll still get your vote, but they'll get it with a message. Then sit back and hope everything turns out right. (That part's no different than any other year.)

Now, it may take a few election cycles to weed out enough Dem's and Repub's to wrest control from them, but the effort will be well worth it. The trick is to get the word out to as many people as possible. And the next time someone you know starts complaining about the politicans in Washington, remember to tell them this:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program already in progress.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That's impressive, Wayne.

I'm actually feeling braver about a third party candidate, so I'll look into who might be running.



Anonymous said...

I admire your idealism, Wayne. But as I never agree with anyone all the time, I don't expect to agree with a major party on all issues. (Illegal immigration and the death penalty are two areas of strong disagreement I have with President Bush.)

My concern for about third parties is the "Italian" effect. Such an ineffectual system they seem to have! Borrowing from organized labour, banding together can have positive repercussions. I am not naive...both parties are in existence to concentrate power with a specific group being deemed the winner. The beauty of the United States is the vociferous disagreement DOES NOT result in coup and armed rebellion.

I like the fact we can openly disagree about politics, societal issues and religion - my mother always wondered why my friends were so opposite of my viewpoints - I told her if I wanted to hear myself repeated I would get a parrot.

I think your governmental organization model would work best in small communities like the primitivists advocate - with that in mind, I think community politics is accountable in a way you can appreciate. But in our large national relationship with our citizens and the world (and considering the effects of federalism) I don't see Utopia ....

Have a good week - I have a hectic one coming up....just like last week.

valiant venus

Wayne A. Schneider said...

Zooey, that's the spirit! I think the more you loook into it, the more you'll like your alternative choices.

Venus, we had some alternative party candidates run and get elected to our town board. Within a couple of years, they were running for re-election as Republicans. As the man famously said, "Some men just can't be reached."

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you said. Another advantage for us more Conservative Libertarian types, is that if there are enough third party candidates in there fewer laws will get passed because the 2 sided debate will turn into a 10 sided discussion with well thought out compromises.


JPark said...

Tundra, I thought, conservative libertarians were for fewer laws???

JPark said...

What, tranny is actually a normal person here? Christ, I need a drink.

Anonymous said...

Tundra, I thought, conservative libertarians were for fewer laws???

Correct, with many sides debating them fewer will get passed


Wayne A. Schneider said...

You have a good point, Tundra. And that's one of the many good reasons for a multiple-party system (but more than two). The more viewpoints there are, the more likely we'll get less legislation out of these bums in DC, and the more likely that what does get passed will be better legislation because it would have to have broader support. Just as not all conservatives are alike, so, too, are not all liberals alike.

Besides, if everything comes down to just two parties in control of both Houses, and one of them manages to take over both, look what happens when they take over the WH, too. And, for the record, I'm sure the Democrats passed some really bad laws when they had the monopoly on power, too. But they did a lot of good stuff, because their emphasis (back in the day) was on people, not businesses.

Somebody was saying (on another site) that Abe Lincoln was the one who came up with "Corporate Personhood." Now I understand why the Republicans like to think of themselves as the "Party of Lincoln". That's the real reason he's their hero. It's starting to make sense now.

So, everyone, don't forget to check out whose running against your local Democrat and Republican. But if your Rep or Sen really is good and they get the nomination of a third party, it's okay to vote for them on that line. As long as they go into Congress as a member of the party for which they got the most votes.

Wayne A. Schneider said...

Here's a thought exercise:

Suppose your favorite baseball team was, let's say, the San Diego Padres, and someone comes up to you and says, "Vote for the team you would like to see win the World Series. Your choices are the New York Yankees or the San Francisco Giants." Wouldn't your first reaction be, "Are those my only two choices?"

And, of course, the answer would be, "No. You can root for any team out there that you want to be World Series champion."

So why should your choice for president (or Senator or Representative) be similarly restricted?