"People think they don't have a choice. Actually, they do."

At The Brownsville Herald, Carlos Rodrigues makes the case for third party activism in general and the Libertarian Party in particular. A long excerpt, via IPR:

Many Americans — a majority, it seems — believe they are taxed so much that their standard of living is compromised. They question many of the programs, and the cost, of programs promoted by the Democratic Party. Many are horrified to think that their tax dollars are being used to fund things they consider morally wrong, such as abortion. They might not like union-friendly legislation that impedes workers’ ability to make independent agreements with employers.

While they might want fiscal restraint, however, many Americans have a real problem with institutionalized xenophobia, edicts that mandate the promotion of a specific religion to the detriment of others, or restrictions on media, behavior and expression the Republican Party espouses.

The obvious question, then, is, why do Americans, who ostensibly decide who gets elected and what party gains power, allow these political aberrations to run the country? Why don’t we have a strong political party that reflects the majority view? After all, other parties do exist; they just don’t have the strength of the two biggies.

You can pick your answer: Maybe the assumption is wrong, and people really are gathered at either ends of the spectrum. Maybe people prefer a two-party system that precludes the formation of coalitions that would lead to compromise legislation rather than the all-or-nothing battles we have today. Or maybe the incumbent parties have stacked the deck in their favor, and a vote for a minority party might as well be thrown away. People don’t think they have a choice.

Actually, they do. Several other political parties exist, although most of them are single-issue groups like the Green Party, America First Party and the U.S. Marijuana Party. Some, however, do offer comprehensive philosophies that can be applied to all aspects of life and government. The largest of these is the Libertarian Party. Traditionally most in line with our country’s Jeffersonian founders, it combines the small-government views that conservatives espouse, while defending the social freedoms that many modern political liberals tout.


Alex Zhao said...

Firstly, the Libertarians are also a relatively single-issue group (or at the very least a very "we have a hammer, everything is a nail" group). And secondly, they would have done better had they managed to secure an individual like Ron Paul and not Bob Barr who was basically a Republican.

I actually think that the Libertarians should focus on winning Congressional districts in key states that they can use to build a national presence first, rather than running Presidential campaigns. Unless they have actual political power to back it up these campaigns won't carry any serious meaning and will fall into a catch-22 of needing power before getting power.

d.eris said...

Alex, I definitely agree, the cult of the presidency is in many cases a great distraction for effective third party and independent organizing. I would add that in addition to congressional districts, third party and independent activists should also focus on local and state level offices, building a national presence, as you say, town by town and state by state.