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Pardes Yehuda: Big boost for third-party politics

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big boost for third-party politics

I can remember my first protest like it was yesterday. One moment in particular stands out in my memory and has shaped my understanding of the American electoral process in very concrete ways. It was October 3, 2000--Boston, MA at UMass. It was the first presidential debate of the 2000 election. Despite having collected all the necessary signatures and so on and so forth, Ralph Nader was not able to debate. That's not so surprising, but at the time it was something important--the end of the Clinton era provided an opportunity for the US to expand its political horizons and incorporate multiple views, especially considering the staggering similarity between the candidates in the 2000 election. I'll spare you the recollections of grotesque police brutality, as this is a positive place. But the moment I mentioned that is seared into my mind is when the audience began to arrive. We gained word that Ralph Nader had been gifted a ticket by a student from Northeastern University to be in the audience at the debate. His bus came up, and we showed him our support. The police then stopped the bus, and asked a brought a few people off the bus, amongst them Mr. Nader. We then watched in disbelief as they confiscated his ticket to be a spectator and turned his bus around. As we chanted, "This is what democracy looks like," I asked myself, are we telling them democracy is dissent, or are we asking them if democracy is arbitrary policing... I still haven't made up my mind.

Ron Paul, the former Republican candidate for his party's nomination, has endorsed not John McCain, nor Barack Obama. Mr. Paul announced today that he would not endorse Mr. McCain despite requests from his campaign. Mr. Paul stated, "I don't like the idea of getting 2 or 3 million people angry at me."

The candidates who received Mr. Paul's endorsements are: independent candidate Ralph Nader, Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, according to the LA Times.

What gets me is Mr. Paul's statement that 2-3 million Americans don't want to vote for either party's major candidates--I know I am amongst them, you might be too.

We have relented to the notion that we only have two choices, and it is a false notion. Democracy endows us with the ability to determine what parties are elected to represent us. The reason so many Americans call themselves "independents" these days is because neither party represents Americans any more. It is time that we demand an end to the two-party electoral system. It was designed to bar others from politics and legislature--to assure a plutocracy and ignore the visions of the federalist republic, that the elected officials are not of the professional variety, but an infrastructure of civil servants.

Ron Paul garnered quite a little movement in the early stages of the 2008 election, and electoral politics will not forget it. His little burst of fame after 30 years of representing his district in Congress illuminated to much of the country that their feelings of discontent with the "same old, same old" were not misplaced and were not alone.

I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but when we enter the voting booth in two months time, at least ponder what this (or any other) election might look like with an option on the ballot reading "NOTA"

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