Resist “Common Wisdom”: Allow Yourself to Think “Third Party” (Join the Many Who Have Done Just That Throughout U.S. History)

(Editor’s Note: This piece from Kenosha Marge is cross-posted from her bunker up North known as “Witch’s Will“. Orignally posted under the title How do I know? The experts tell me so.”)

September 30, 2009

By Kenosha  Marge

It occurred to me recently, while bemoaning the fact that we do not have a viable 3rd party choice in this country that perhaps “I” was part of the problem. Part of the problem because I believed that we couldn’t have a viable party because the “common wisdom”  or   the “experts” tell us so.

Just as the power of positive thinking works, so does the power of negative thinking.  If we are convinced something can’t happen then we won’t make much of an effort in that direction. No use us “spinning our wheels” is there? The old beating our heads against a brick wall approach that everyone tells us is stupid and not constructive. Add painful.

Remember that old limerick that went something like this:

They told the young man it couldn’t be done

With a smile on his face he went right to it

He tackled that job that couldn’t be done

And you know what, he couldn’t do it.

Thinking about that limerick and how I let that kind of thing insidiously convince me that we couldn’t have a viable 3rd party I realized that I was a knothead. Of course that’s something I all ready knew, but I suddenly realized that on this issue I was more of a knothead than usual.  I was allowing the “common wisdom” and the “experts” to shape my opinion and thus help to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I am not naive enough to believe that having a 3rd Party choice would solve all our problems. Getting rid of most of the corrupt and corrupted politicians in Washington D.C., while putting the fear of re-election into the rest is what’s absolutely necessary. Add a cease fire with shooting ourselves in the foot by electing the same old pols with our same old partisan votes.

Those would be the same pols that disappoint us time and again. As a punishment we re-elect them. Perhaps they packed us in pork and we consider that good governance. We do if we consider getting ours at the expense of the good of the country good governance.  Let me state for the record that I don’t.

My mantra has become “Partisanship is un-American and unpatriotic and dammit, it’s lazy too.” Quite a wordy mantra, it definitely needs some work. However, it work for me.

We get so focused on the Democrats and Republicans that we forget how many other parties have come and gone since the founding of our government.

Most know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and that Andrew Jackson was a Democrat. But did you know that Thomas Jefferson was a Democrat-Republican? Perhaps that doesn’t seem so strange given that we basically have the same thing today, they just pretend to be different on television. The two major parties each take a turn to screw the public, steal from the public and score points off their “adversaries” by doing things that will harm the public. Unlike Jefferson, what we have now are Democrat-Republican-Asshats.

Historical political parties

The following parties are no longer functioning. Some of them had considerable influence. Listed in order of founding.

Gone and mostly forgotten until Googled at Wikipedia.

The Top Three of the 3rd Parties are:

Constitution Partysocially conservative, fiscally conservative

Green Partysocially progressive, fiscally liberal

Libertarian Partysocially liberal, fiscally conservative

Libertarian Party: Founded in 1971, the Libertarian party is the third largest political party in America. Over the years, Libertarian Party candidates have been elected to many state and local offices.

Libertarians believe the federal government should play a minimal role in the day-to-day affairs of the people. They believe that the only appropriate role of government is to protect the citizens from acts of physical force or fraud. A libertarian-style government would therefore limit itself to a police, court, prison system and military. Members support free market economy and are dedicated to protection of civil liberties and individual freedom.

Constitution Party

is a United States political party rooted in the paleoconservative movement. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers’ Party in 1992. The party’s official name was changed to the Constitution Party in 1999; however, some state affiliate parties are known under different names. The party’s goal as stated in its own words is “to restore our government to its Constitutional limits and our law to its Biblical foundations.” [1] The party puts a large focus on immigration, calling for stricter penalties towards illegal immigrants and a moratorium on legal immigration until all federal subsidies to immigrants are discontinued.[2] The party absorbed the American Independent Party, originally founded for George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign. The American Independent Party of California was an affiliate of the Constitution Party since its founding, but disaffiliated itself after the 2008 Constitution Party Convention to support Alan Keyes and his America’s Independent Party. The Constitution Party’s affiliate in California now bears the name of California Constitution Party.

Green Party of the United States (GPUS)

is one of the political parties in the United States, and similar in mission to many of the worldwide Green Parties. The Greens, a voluntary association of state parties, have been active as a nationally recognized political party since 2001. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by their corresponding states. The Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), a forerunner organization, first gained widespread public attention during Ralph Nader’s presidential runs in 1996 and 2000. With the founding of the Green Party of the United States, the party established a national political presence becoming the primary national Green organization in the U.S. eclipsing the earlier Greens/Green Party USA which emphasized non-electoral movement building.

I have voted for Green Candidates now and again. Now I’m not sure I want to do that again. Being fiscally liberal is not a good fit for me. And voting for a “Green” is quite often the same as voting for a Democrat. The same skunk with a differant stipe isn’t what I’m looking for.

There are literally dozens of other “3rd Parties”, many whom I must confess I had never heard of before. There is a link below if you want to take a look around and see what’s available.

The problem for most 3rd Party candidates is getting on the ballot.

In most states a 3rd party candidate must gather signatures from citizens. The number varies from state to state. Here’s just a sample:

Georgia: The legislature passed a law in 1943 requiring that new party and independent candidates submit a petition signed by 5% of the number of registered voters in order to get on the ballot for any office. Previously, any party could get on the ballot just by requesting it. The result has been that since 1943, there has not been one third party candidate on the Georgia ballot for U.S. House of Representatives.

Florida: The ballot access laws for third parties and independent candidates have been very severe ever since 1931. Since 1931, there have been only two third party candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives on the ballot and only one third party candidate for the U.S. Senate. There has not been a third party or independent candidate on the ballot for Governor of Florida since 1920. Currently, a filing fee of 7% of the annual salary of the office is also required unless the candidate is a pauper, while a third party or independent candidate for any statewide office (other than president) needs 196,255 valid signatures — no independent candidate in any state in the U.S. has ever successfully complied with a signature requirement greater than 134,781 signatures.

Arkansas: The legislature passed a law in 1971 providing that new parties could not get on the ballot unless they submit a petition signed by a number of voters equal to 7% of the last vote cast. Because this law in 1977 was held unconstitutional (courts have since held that petition requirements cannot exceed 5% of the electorate), the legislature changed it to 3%. No political party has ever succeeded in getting on the Arkansas ballot, under either the 7% or the 3% rule — partly because the state requires that the petition be completed in the four months during the odd year before an election year.

West Virginia: Third party and independent candidates for office (other than president) must circulate their petition before the primary. It is a crime for any petition circulator to approach anyone without saying “If you sign my petition, you cannot vote in the primary.” The law can be enforced because it is illegal for anyone to circulate a petition without first obtaining “credentials” from election officials for this purpose. Furthermore, it is impossible for third party or independent candidates (not running for president) to ever know in advance if they have enough valid signatures because if anyone who signs a candidate’s petition then votes in a primary, the signature of that person is invalid. For candidates, it is impossible to know who will actually vote in the primary, and it is too late to get signatures after the primary.

Tennessee – 25 signatures is all that is required as of 2006 to be put on the ballot for any elected office. A candidate for President of the United States must put foward a full slate of candidates who have agreed to serve as electors (11, at least until the 2010 census). A party must mainatain five percent of the vote statewide in order to be recognized as a party and have its candidates listed on the ballot under that party’s name; the last third party to do so was the American Party in 1968; none of its candidates received five percent of the statewide vote in 1970 and it was then decertified as an official party.

Texas – For a registered political party in a statewide election to gain ballot access, they must either 1) obtain five percent of the vote in any statewide election or 2) collect petition signatures equal to one percent of the total votes cast in the preceding election for governor, and must do so by January 2 of the year in which such statewide election is held. An independent candidate for any statewide office must collect petition signatures equal to one percent of the total votes cast for governor, and must do so beginning the day after primary elections are held and complete collection within 60 days thereafter (if runoff elections are held, the window is shortened to beginning the day after runoff elections are held and completed within 30 days thereafter). The petition signature cannot be from anyone who voted in either primary (including runoff), and voters cannot sign multiple petitions (they must sign a petition for one party or candidate only).

Both major parties make it as difficult as possible for 3rd Party candidates to get on a ballot. It’s not that they fear that any 3rd party will win,although Ross Perot did give them a scare, it’s that 3rd parties often act as spoilers.

Perot’s candidacy received increasing media attention when the competitive phase of the primary season ended for the two major parties. President George H.W. Bush was losing support, and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton was still suffering from the numerous scandal allegations made in the previous months. With the insurgent candidacies of Republican Pat Buchanan and Democrat Jerry Brown winding down, Perot was the natural beneficiary of populist resentment toward establishment politicians. On May 25, 1992 he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine with the title “Waiting for Perot”, an allusion to Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot.

Whatever the reason the fact remains that we could have more choices when we vote. We can have more choices if we insist that those choices be made available to us in every election, local, state and national. We owe it to ourselves to look around and see what’s available.

Or we can just make our selection from a very limited menu as usual. Funny thing is, we wouldn’t accept that at a hamburger joint but we accept it meekly when it comes to our government.  If we don’t work to change that we have only ourselves to blame.

It doesn’t matter what the experts, the mavens, the pundidiots, and common wisdom is trying to tell us. Because all of the above are so wrong so often that why we listen to them/it at all is a complete mystery to me. A mystery I suspect would baffle the offspring of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. And that’s the picture I leave you to try to get out of your head. Big winking smiley with sunglasses

links110_a

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_States#Historical_political_parties

This link is for modern political parties:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_party_(United_States)

Ross Perot link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Perot

Campaign to get 3rd Party Candidates on Every Congressional Ballot

http://www.breakthematrix.com/Third-Party/campaign-to-get-3rd-party-candidates-on-EVERY-Congressional-ballot-in-2010

Getting 3rd Party Candidates on the ballot a difficult endeavor

http://www.satireandcomment.com/sc1007thirdparty.html

Ballot access

http://www.ballot-access.org/winger/fbfp.html

Ballot access laws by state

http://home.earthlink.net/~maxhamforpresident/id28.html

7 Responses

  1. Good post and I share your sentiments.

    An interesting site I discovered a couple of years
    ago is called Stop Me Before I Vote Again. I
    haven’t read the blog portion recently, and I don’t
    know anything about the site owner, but the book
    portion is still there and still worth reading.

    http://www.stopmebeforeivoteagain.org/stopme/

    I think it’s all worth reading but if you’re in a hurry,
    read over Chapter II, which explains why the
    Democrats never succeed in moving to the left,
    and Chapter XV, which discusses the right way
    to go about establishing third parties.

  2. Great deal of information. Thank you for posting. I have been an Independent voter for a long time, and moved from the “Best of the Bad” vote, to “None of the Above” when necessary. But there is always the chorus running in the back of the head that says. “Your vote won’t count anyway.” I will take your advice and change my mantra. “Yes, my vote counts.”

  3. Our votes count, catsden, only if there are enough of them.

    If it comes down to voting for one of two useless buzzzards my choice from now on will be to vote out the incumbent. Which by the way is a good idea anyway.

    These clowns need to know that we the voters, aka, We The People are watching them closely and will take our revenge for their bad behavior at the ballot box.

    Thanks for the link Modem X. Here’s another good spot for those who refuse to belong to either of the major parties to peruse,
    http://www.nationalrepublicrat.com/

  4. The 〈a href = “http://www.gp.org/”〉Green Party〈/a〉supports fiscal and personal RESPONSIBILITY. Greens have been elected to offices around the globe.

  5. If the Greens support fiscal and personal RESPONSIBILITY then I can support them. But there too, it will be on an individual basis. Party platforms and promises mean nothing if the don’t “walk the talk”.

    Rumors that the Green Party was courting ousted Obama Administration Green Czar Van Johnson pretty much appalled me too.

    NO Party gets my vote from here on out. Individuals from whatever party they belong to who I consider “worthy” of my vote will. Or individuals who are running against an incumbent that needs to be sent packing.

    Personally I would like to see 4 or 5 viable political parties. Harder for entrenched powers to become “entrenched” if they have 50/50 chance of winning. And let’s face it, in many states and district the voters would vote for any critter be it ever so corrupt, incompetent or stupid so long as the candidate was the right color. And I’m not talking race here, I’m talking red or blue for Dems or Repubs.

  6. Great post. I often wonder about the disconnect between the number of people who say they would support a viable third party and the number of people who actually support third parties. You are right about the self-fulfilling prophesy angle. But, I think it’s very likely that there are candidates other than those supplied by the Democratic and Republican Parties for a ton of races in every state across the country every year. The problem is the two-party, duopolized mentality, which has been swayed by decades of Democratic-Republican propaganda stating that to vote third party is to throw your vote away and spoil the election. Ironically, however, a good case could be made that it is precisely the Democrats and Republicans who have spoiled politics in the United States, and thus to vote Democrat or Republican is to throw your vote away.

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