Op-Ed: Why Americans should support third parties

The Dispatch, daily paper of Columbus, Ohio, ran an Op-Ed on Feb 12, 2008 by law prof. Mark R. Brown on why voters should support third parties.

America, unfortunately, has devolved into a two-party (and two-candidate) system. The benefits behind this approach — efficiency and fidelity — do not outweigh its costs. In particular, America’s political duopoly suppresses free thought. The two major parties silence dissident voices with promises and penalties; sacred party beliefs and “taboo” topics are squelched in the name of loyalty. An austere marketplace of slogans and codes has consequently emerged, with two parties marginally competing over voters in the middle. I say marginally because the modern Republican and Democratic platforms are not that different.

How so not that different? Brown goes on.

It could be that everyone in America agrees that marijuana is so innately evil that the government can and should prohibit its possession and use. Similarly, Americans might uniformly agree that same-sex marriage is so bad that it deserves no federal protection. National polls in the run-up to the 2004 elections, however, suggested that neither consensus existed: more than one-third of Americans favored the outright legalization of marijuana, and an even larger percentage favored legalizing same-sex marriage.

This kind of restriction on political speech is most clear as it works inside the two major parties. 

I had a conversation recently with an aunt of mine. She took an online poll and was shocked to discover the candidate who best matched her opinions was Dennis Kucinich. I asked her whether she would support Kucinich and she said she wouldn’t, “because it doesn’t matter.”

The comment meant two things: she recognized that Kucinich was not a “respectable” candidate.   Every mention in the media of the Ohio congressman was prefaced or followed by “why doesn’t he drop out/he’s bound to drop out.”  The only news articles focusing entirely on Kucinich concerned some comments he made a decade or more ago about seing a U.F.O.  Well that’s that then. So tactically he had no possibility of being heard and did not in fact matter to the result of the process.

I think she was more shocked to discover that her opinions do not matter. So far as official politics is concerned, she may as well not have an opinion, just like Viggo Mortgenson.

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Posted on February 14, 2008, in Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Regardless of who Chris Daggett hurts, Daggett is not a spoiler and he can win.

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    To do that we are reaching out to voters that want to Vote for Daggett but are afraid a vote for Daggett is a wasted vote. So…

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    Spread the word about this pledge, so we can bring an end to politics as usual.

    The broken and corrupt two party system threatens us all, event if we are not from NJ. Take a stand.

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