Why on Earth Support a Minor Political Party?
Consumers have a blizzard of choice when shopping. There are a dozen auto manufacturers and many brands of electronics. This much competition is good. So why do we put up with a duopoly in our politics?
By sheer determination this year there will be as many as 5 or 6 minor parties on some States' ballots, much to the chagrin of the duopoly and the lapdog media. There is a constant drumbeat that voters should not "waste their votes" on third party candidates. One must wonder, though, why is it we feel it is wonderful that people have many brands of consumer products to choose from, but that it is “too confusing” to have more than two choices for political office? In the distant past there were usually several choices and some supplanted the then major parties. The benefit of more choices is simple. The emphasis upon different alternatives and the challenges and debates that result, are as necessary in the realm of political ideas as the competition among consumer products.
If one of the two majors fully reflects one’s ideas then there is no need to consider other options. Why on earth though, even if one is not completely satisfied, vote for a candidate that has little or no chance of “winning” a political office? Isn’t that throwing away one’s vote? Absolutely not! Knowing you have given tacit support to someone who is less than honest, reputable, intelligent, or knowledgeable about the issues is the wasted vote. He is unsatisfactory, just not quite as bad as that “other fellow.
Many people do not vote as it is simply too much trouble and feel they cannot discern the benefits compared to the trouble. Perhaps they have no interest in the people running or they feel their vote is such a small fraction of the whole as to be worthless. Frequently we hear people remark they are disgusted with the yammering from the Demopublicans and Republicrats. Perhaps they do some investigation only to discover that Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee are very similar, so what is the point?
There are critical thinking people who reject the concept of “majority rule” and are opting out and do not vote at all. For these abstainers this is a strong “conscientious objector” position. If they support a candidate who campaigns on one set of ethics, then votes otherwise, it is tantamount to voting unethically by proxy. This is a moral position I deeply respect and cannot argue against. We the people have certainly experienced many important promises broken by both the D’s and R’s!
But what is the point of voting for a candidate who has a very slim chance of winning the election? Because the dedicated minor candidate supporter is sending a strong and clear message even if the vote totals are less than 3 percent. That minor party voter is acknowledging that voting, at its best, is not a gambling decision made to win a bet. Rather than half-heartedly giving one of the two “major party” candidates one’s support, it is it can be instead enthusiastically given to someone who is reflecting the ideas, values and principles the voter strongly supports. Despite denials, those who are elected do pay attention.
Note: To be accurate, at this time there is only one “third party” and that is the Libertarian Party. They have survived since 1971 against the machinations of the major duopoly to attempt to destroy them with draconian Ballot Access regulation. These are regulations put in place by the two major parties to prevent and forbid by law the offering of more than two choices to voters without extreme time and financial hardship. Other alternative parties have come and gone but the Libertarian Party has continued to survive and to maintain a high number of Ballot Access States over a forty-year-plus time span. While legal battles have been fought and won by the Libertarian Party we have included other minor parties as a courtesy as we mean what we say: the competition of ideas is desirable.
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