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2006: Two parties, no choice

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It is an election year, Notre Dame. Be ready for electioneering, politicking and bucketfuls of empty promises from sleazebag politicians. This year we Americans will once again exercise our government-given right to choose our own rulers, which is apparently something of which we should be proud. In America, you see, we can elect to dispose of our oppressors with the simple (or, in the case of Florida, not quite simple enough) punch of a button.

I dislike elections. I think they bring out the worst in what is wrong with America: advertising blitzes, lies and slimy politicians smiling through their teeth as they rob us blind. What election years do offer, however, is some small hope that maybe this year will be different. Maybe, for some unknown reason, America will awaken.

However, I am also a pragmatic person. I know that if you are a Democrat, you will probably re-elect Slimeball X for his fourth term in the House. If you are a Republican, you will happily fill in the box next to Senator Liar Number Three and elect her for the 10th straight year.

In America, party loyalty is more important than actually paying attention.

According to FairVote – The Center for Voting and Democracy, “In each of the four national elections since 1996, more than 98 percent of incumbents have won, and more than 90 percent of all races have been won by non-competitive margins of more than 10 percent.” There are currently only four states in this entire country in which all incumbents were not reelected, and the average margin of victory was over 40 percent. In Wyoming, an incumbent politician has not lost a general election in 40 years. If I am not mistaken, the statistics are similar in, say, Cuba.

Politicians are like diapers: they both need to be changed. Often.

But like I said, I am a realistic person. I know that most of you are happy with the mess in Washington. Who needs to change diapers when the ones you are wearing are so comfortable?

But are you really comfortable with politics in America? Do the smiling faces of Ted Kennedy (slithering about the Senate since 1962) and Robert Byrd (forget 1962, try 1953) keep you warm at night? I hope not.

Until instant runoff voting is adopted, which may occur around the same time that NASA dedicates the George W. Bush Hotel on Mars, there is little hope for affecting dramatic change in the American political world. However, there may be one small way in which each of us can do our part in altering the political landscape.

This is my challenge to you: vote for at least one candidate in a local-, state- or federal-level election who represents a third party. I do not expect a sweeping reevaluation of your political persuasion; what I do hope, however, is that voting for one third party candidate in one race will open you up to the notion that our two-party system is flawed, and the time to fix it is now. Here is some information about three major American third parties.

The Constitution Party: The Constitution Party can be considered strongly right-wing. It is staunchly pro-life, and their 2004 presidential candidate, Michael Peroutka, pledged to end abortion in the United States by the end of 2005. The party also supports gun rights and states’ rights, while it opposes globalization, gay rights and “unrestricted immigration.” Their Web site is www.constitution-party.net

The Green Party: The Green Party is a left-wing party that supports socialized health care, reducing military spending and strictly regulating greenhouse gas emissions. They are opposed to free trade as well as military action and believe in “grassroots democracy,” “decentralization” and “social justice.” Their Web site is www.gp.org

Finally, in my not-so-humble opinion, the greatest political party in the United States: the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party believes in free minds and free markets, that is, minimal government intervention in the lives of citizens. The LP is pro-Bill of Rights, anti-gun control, anti-Drug War, pro-immigration, pro-free trade, pro-gay rights and generally all-around anti-authoritarian. The LP supports lowering taxes, tariffs and reducing government spending on as many levels as possible. The Libertarian Party’s Web site is www.lp.org

So there is my challenge. You may continue to support your favorite Republicrat politician, but in one election, I ask that you consider supporting a party that is not comfortably sustained by taxpayer money. Now is your chance to make a real political statement. Stop thinking in terms of the lesser of two evils and admit to yourself that until you are free enough to vote for neither of the two evils, you are not free at all.

America needs more than two parties. The diapers are starting to smell.

Scott Wagner is the president of the College Libertarians and writes offensive political satire for the Web site The Enduring Vision. He can be contacted at swagner1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.