First, let me point out that in no other industrialized, democratic country, are there only two strong political parties. In each and every one of these countries, there are at least three political parties that are on an equal footing. I find it incomprehensible that in a country such as ours, which demands choices in every other aspect of life (i. e. - 150 station cable/satellite TV systems), we still limit ourselves to only two options when it comes to politics.
It should be further noted that there is nothing in the Constitution that specifies a two party system. There are even clues in this document that suggest the Founding Fathers assumed that there would always be more than two strong candidates. In fact, if you look at the first several Presidential elections in this country, you would see that there were always at least three Presidential candidates who received electoral votes.
We have been deluded in this country into thinking that a Third Party won't work. How? Well, first we're told that if we vote for a third party, we'd be wasting our vote. This is, of course, looking at it from their perspective. In their view, any time you don't vote for their candidate, the vote is wasted. If that doesn't work, we're told that our vote won't count. Translated, this means that your vote will count, just not for their party. Next, we're told that we are splitting the vote, helping the other candidate win. I have two comments on that. The first is that this is certainly an egotistical viewpoint. After all, why should you drop your candidate in order to help get their candidate elected? My second comment is that this argument is nothing more than the "voting for the lesser of two evils" logic. We people who vote third party, however, have our own logic. And that is, why should we vote for the lesser of two evils when the lesser evil is still evil? Finally, we're told that we are being presented with two clear choices, so we don't need to clog up the field with any more. In reality, this makes no sense. Even if it were true that we are always being presented with two candidates who are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, where does that leave the voters who are in the middle? As an example, how about a voter who has liberal social ideas but conservative fiscal views? Why should these types of voters have to give up fifty percent of their values in order to choose between the conservative and liberal candidates? This is another example, and there are many more, where the two party system is a failure in delivering representational elections. But there are two more important reasons why we support the minor parties.
The first is we believe that the present two party system has led to gridlock in the country, which has extended into the general population as well. Essentially, we have become an "us" versus "them" society. There is no middle ground. If you are not with "us", then you are with "them", and that makes you the enemy. Moderates who try to compromise with opposing moderates, and who go against the party's wishes, are branded as traitors. As a result, the serious problems that we are facing in this country are not being addressed. A strong third party could blunt this attitude, and therefore open up a dialogue, since people might realize that it's no longer just "them" anymore with their diametrically opposing viewpoints.
The second reason we support minor parties is that we believe that the two party system has led to an overall decline in morality in the country. We try to live an honest life ourselves, and try to teach our children to be honest and moral citizens. But in looking over the last 30 or so years, we find that many of our Presidents were not so moral themselves. I'm not going to get into who did what since reprehensible behavior existed on both sides of the aisle. But we are so locked in to the philosophy of "us" versus "them", that we overlook their errors simply because we can't bring ourselves to vote for the other party's candidate. Yeah, we may not like the guy, we may even despise him, but we can't let the other guy win. So we hold our nose and vote for him. Politics is probably one of the few areas where we essentially reward a person for doing something that we teach our children not to do. Of course, our children see this. And what do you suppose they learn from this? That immorality pays? No wonder our moral standards have declined over the years. A strong third party would give voters someone else to vote for in case they find that they cannot support one candidate because of his views, and the other candidate because of his immoral actions.
Now, I'm not naive enough to believe that if a current minor party was suddenly elevated to being one of the two major parties, that it wouldn't revert to the same tactics being used today. After all, human nature is human nature. But the point is, that by having three or more solid choices to chose from, there is less of a chance that the electorate will fall into the "us" versus "them" trap. So, the next time somebody encourages you to perpetuate the two party system by telling you that you're wasting your vote, tell them that you're sorry that they prefer to watch only two TV stations. And that they prefer only to have two changes of clothes. And that they prefer only to eat two kinds of food. Then tell them how the two party system has led to gridlock and a lessening of moral standards. My guess is that whether or not they understand the connotations and points you are trying to make, they will go away and bother somebody else. And in the end, isn't that all we really want from them?
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