Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The third parties among us.
Also, the knarliest looking man in America.

Not surprisingly, I love watching candidate debates, especially those where a third-party or lesser-known candidate has been invited to offer a "fresh" outlook on the issues. I have noticed in watching panel debates including Peter Camejo that audience response is always positive; the "major" candidates are also well received, but Camejo's (or Huffington's, or McClintock's, or Uberroth's, or frickin' Ross Perot's, for example) refreshing and straightforward views tend to yield spontaneous and surprised applause. Further, when I discuss politics with my friends and family, issue by issue, their views align more closely to those of a third-party or underdog candidate (read "novelty" candidate) than with one of the major two.

The Democrats and Republicans in exclusion have failed and continue to fail to adequately represent Americans. No viable candidate in the Republican party has been willing to simultaneously say No to abortion, tax increases, federal supremacy, strict gun control, dumping money into social services, and all the "standard" right wing tenents. Alternately, no probable Democratic candidate has renounced the death penalty, tax cuts, loose environmental regulations, integration of god and government, and all those other typically left-wing views. Without a doubt both the Dems and the Reps have been riddled with political corruption and at times appear to be the alarmingly vacant puppets of lobbyists. While often many Americans feel that one of the Major Two candidates fully represents them, a very substantial number of Americans do not and instead compromise by voting for whoever comes closer.

And yet this nation clings fastidiously to a strict two party system, wherein pundits and politicians and the populous convince themselves that having viable thrid and fourth parties is impracticle and idealistic and impossible. (Did you like that little bout with alliteration? I sure did.) Thousands of Americans who felt that Ralph Nader had a better plan for the country than Al Gore voted for Gore simply because "Nader has no chance of winning." In 1992, the strength of a preeminant third-party was proven when Perot earned 19% of the vote. Ninteen! Percent! Bush (The First) got only 37%, less than twice that of Perot. Undoubtedly Perot's numbers would have been much higher had fiscally conservative Americans voted their concience, voted on the issues, instead of voting for who they think had a better chance of winning. In 2000, there were public records of West Coast voters waiting until East Coast election results pointed to a secure Gore victory so they could comfortably vote for Nader. (A lot of good it did them, ultimately.) To paraphrase my mother, I love what Camejo says, but Davis is so much less worse than Simon. American politics has devolved into voting for a lesser of two evils.

What are European nations with robust production, socialized health care and higher education, and life expectancies that exceed those in America by 2-5 years doing to manage more than two political parties? Why do people in our nation insist that multiple-party systems are out of reach? I don't get it.

On a semi-unrelated note, have you ever noticed how creepy-looking James Craville is? He's pretty creepy-looking.


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