There are more than two political parties in the United States. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t realize this. I frequently am. Indeed, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the biggest two political parties so they’re bound to get the most attention, but the general ideas is that they get the attention because there aren’t any other parties to speak of. This kind of thinking is absurd. Not only does it limit democracy, it also suppresses the so-called “third parties”, such as the Libertarian Party or the Green Party. Parties like that shouldn’t be a footnote in elections. Unfortunately, the people of America have turned the term “third party” into a joke, or even an invective.
“So do you think a third party will win this year?”
“What, do you mean like Ralph Nader, that damn vote-stealer?”
Regardless of Nader’s position as thief of votes (I’m looking straight at the 2000 election here), people should realize that their votes are not just limited to “Democrat” or “Republican”. Too often third parties are seen as annoyances, detracting from the “true” parties. This is because the United States has been limited to a two-party system for years. The last time a third party candidate came even close to winning a presidential election was in 1912, where Theodore Roosevelt, as candidate for the Progressive Party, carried 6 states and won a bigger share of the popular vote than the Republican candidate, William Howard Taft. He lost to Woodrow Wilson, but his second place finish has never been duplicated by a third party. Even Ross Perot only got as much as 8% of the popular vote in 1996.
A common argument I’ve heard against third parties is that a vote for a third party candidate is wasted because they’ll lose anyways. Can anyone else see the flaw in this? It’s a circular line of reasoning. A third party candidate will lose because no one votes for them. No one votes for them because they think they’ll lose. It’s self-fulfilling. I really think that if everyone voted for the party they liked most (instead of the party they thought would be most likely to win), the Libertarian Party would get a lot of votes. Most people don’t even know what a libertarian is, though I bet most of them would identify as one (who doesn’t like a small government?). I blame that on the media for inundating us with the whole “liberal vs. conservative” idea. Note to the American people: the political spectrum stopped being a line a long, long time ago. There isn’t just “left” and “right”.
Anyways, I’m just saying this because I’m a libertarian (ideologically, as denoted by the small “l”). I’m not registered with the party (denoted by the big “L”), but I may register before this next election. It doesn’t seem that the Democrats or the Republicans are going to be putting out candidates I like, so I’ll probably vote Libertarian. Wasted vote? Perhaps, but at least I’m voting for someone I like. That’s a little more important than going along with the status quo.