Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More or Less?

Too many choices question marks

There are more than just two political parties in the U.S. Of course we know which ones have all the money and are bought and paid for, but what of the others? Should we have more than two? Should we have any at all? George Washington warned us about the destructive nature of party politics in his farewell address, after serving two terms as president.

We have the R's and the D's, but we also have the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, Independents (which, by their very nature are not really a party), the Green Party, the American Conservative Party, and others that many of you have not even heard of. Some people are even talking about making the Tea Party a political party. Should we take any of these other parties seriously? Can we simply choose to vote for the person, no matter which party they are aligned with?

I respectfully submit that a major, perhaps THE major reason for voter ignorance and apathy, especially apathy, is the lack of multiple parties. When you are told you only have two choices, in reality, for all practical purposes, we don't really have two, and you don't like either of the two, who do you vote for? Well, we are told to vote for the lesser of the two evils. Of course we see all around us what that has gotten us. The response of most voters is, "Screw it! I'm just not going to vote!" And so decisions are made by a minority of voters, many of whom vote party line, whether the candidate is a good one or not, and we just get more of the same ol', same ol'.

Many of you know that I am a career changer. I went back to college to get my degree to teach. I took several political science classes and wrote several term papers for them. Through my studies I learned that in countries with multiple political parties voter turnout was consistently above the 75% mark. Can any of you tell me when the last time we saw such a turnout in America was? If you said 81.8% in 1876 you win. Since 1960 the figure has hovered around 50%. I contend, and I accept that I could be completely wrong, that if people had more choices there would be greater voter interest and turnout. Why? because with more choices you are more likely to find that one candidate who more closely mirrors your views, rather than having to settle for someone who is just a little better than the other guy in a two-way race.

If we are serious about freedom and choices then we must accept that the current system is not going to provide that. People are tired of being told that they must vote for the lesser of two evils, they are tired of not having a real definitive choice, they are tired of two parties that each seek to grow the government, albeit in different ways. Let's stop trying to shut out other views and choices and allow them to sink or swim on their own merit. If a person, representing a party, any party, works to get on the ballot, and does so, then let us insist that they be treated with the same respect we reserve for the two major parties. Let us insist that they be heard, not because they have lots of money given to them by the various special interests, but because they are another choice for us to make and we should hear what they have to say. Allow the voters to decide based on all the information they can gather. Isn't that what our system of government is supposed to be about?