Friday, October 17, 2008

What about Third Parties?

Does our electoral college system make adequate allowance for third parties. Should third parties be allowed to participate in Presidential debates? I will attempt to speak to these and related issues.

Our founding fathers did not envision the advent of political parties. This is why the Constitution had to be amended after Jefferson tied with his running mate in the 1800 election.

The electoral college system obviously discriminates against third parties. Just look at Ross Perot's 19% vote in the 1992 election. How many electoral votes did all those votes get him? Exactly zero, zilch, nada. In fact, he only finished second in 2 states--Utah and Maine.

This shows how the deck is stacked against 3rd party candidates. Since you have to win a state to get any electoral votes (except in Maine and Nebraska where you "only" have to win a Congressional District), you have to pretty much be a major party to get on the board in the electoral college.

The commission in charge of debates says no 3rd party candidate will be included unless they have 15% in the polls. An organization whose head was on C-SPAN recently (I think "open-debates" was its name), espoused its theory that any candidate who was on enough state ballots to be eligible to get the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected should be included. This would have allowed Ralph Nader to be included in this year's debates, and certainly we would have had a chance to have real debates if this had happened, instead of the meaningless joint press conferences that we got instead.

I believe we need to unstack the deck to give 3rd parties a chance. Just look at how John McCain picked his running mate. He wanted Joe Lieberman, but was assured by party leaders that if he did this, a floor fight would ensue at the convention. Consequently, he got stuck with Sarah Palin, the last in a long line of bimbos McCain has surrounded himself with.

It is apparent from this fiasco that the Republican party really consists of 3 different parties. You have the libertarians, who really should be part of the Libertarian Party. Then you have the so-called social conservatives, who are decidedly anti-libertarian in their belief that the government should regulate our personal lives, prohibiting abortion, prohibiting gay marriage, prohibiting drug use, and advocating all kinds of other regulations designed to foist their religious views on the rest of us. Lastly, you have the Rockefeller Republicans, the folks running Wall Street, the so-called Eastern Establishment that Barry Goldwater ran against in 1964.

These are really 3 different parties, not part of one party, and they should be allowed to go their separate ways and advocate their respective views to their heart's content. Somehow a way needs to be found so that people can advocate their positions in an authentic way, instead of being forced to be part of a big party which only in part shares their views. Or, alternatively, being forced to be part of a small party which has no chance of ever having a true voice in national affairs.

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