The American political system has been dominated by two major political parties for most of its history. In the legislative branch this occurs due to a combination of first-past-the-post elections (where the plurality winner takes all) and gerrymandered districts. The major parties heavily push the idea of ‘strategic voting’- that ‘voting for a third option is voting for the other guy’. This is a false choice.
Patriotic citizens should shield themselves from these arguments. When presented with a corrupt incumbent and a weak or corrupt challenger, those citizens who believe in better government should choose the candidate they feel would best suit their interests.
The best candidate for the job is not going to be the individuals backed by corporate and special interest money. The best candidate is a person with an unshakable will and a belief in his or her community. The person you vote for should be someone you can be proud of- someone who serves with honor and who looks out for the interests of the American citizen and not the interests of Goldman Sachs or a lobbying firm.
There are good representatives in both parties. There are men and women serving their nation honorably in both the Democratic and the Republican party. But in many cases the choices given by the Democrat and the Republican party leaders and special interest groups are plain unacceptable. When presented with two bad choices it is important to remember that there are sometimes other options. American democracy is not ‘pick one of two’- it is ‘pick the best person for the job’.
The parties would have us believe that America is red or blue- that we must swear unwavering loyalty to our tribe and no matter the merit of the other side’s proposals we must always cheer for our team. The parties want us to believe independent candidates are unprofessional and that independents are really just ‘working for the other team’. This is nonsense and harms American democracy.
The people of a district deserve the best possible representation of their beliefs, culture, and way of life in Congress. Corrupt, complacent individuals betray the public trust while siphoning millions in donations, insider trading tips, and payment in kind. If your representative is such a person you should consider voting for a strong independent to throw that official out of office.
In Southwestern Ohio representative Jean Schmidt has taken a large sum of money from foreign national interests to fund a court case against a local businessman who had the audacity to challenge her for her Congressional seat. Actions such as these prove that the parties have little love for independent candidates. When a candidate does as well as Mr. Krikorian did in his 2008 independent run the two party duopoly does everything in its power to discredit, bankrupt, and destroy the offender.
It should not be a crime to run for office as an independent. It should not be seen as ‘impossible’ or ‘futile’. Independents performing well is a sign that American democracy can be healthy. Independents winning would do a lot to fix our broken national discourse and our lack of real, compelling choices on election day.
In the free market people would be displeased if a major industry we all depended on had only two companies competing for our business. Such a duopoly structure would lend itself to cartel practices and price fixing. Why should our politics be any different? Like a marketplace, American politics should have many smaller ‘companies’ and entrepreneurs competing for our patronage. There should be local parties, state parties, and regional parties that are better able to represent the peoples wishes and needs. A system where two major brands dominate and suck all of the air from the room is uncompetitive by nature. Democracy isn’t democracy without competition.
Consider voting independent in 2012 if your district has a compelling third choice available. A 20% showing for such a candidate can shake the very foundations the mainstream is built upon. A win in such a race would shatter those foundations. Several wins across the country would spark a wave of real, lasting reform that could save our nation from those who seek to plunder and destroy it.
America needs real hope and real change. This cannot come from a billion dollar campaign or frightening attack ads. Real change comes from choosing the right person for the job- be they Democrat, Republican, or Independent. Barring a major change in the coming months, however, the likelihood of the major parties choosing a reform platform is grim.