Monday, April 21, 2008

The Viability of 3rd Party Candidates

It's no secret that I root for the blue side of Washington's divide. But, in truth, I'm a third party candidate kind of guy. In 2000 (my first participation in American democracy), I voted for Ralph Nader. In 2004, assured that Kerry would carry my home state of Illinois, I voted for Green Party candidate David Cobb. My justification was simple; in addition to the inherent attraction of the underdog, I believed that neither the Democrats nor Republicans would bring about the magnitude of change America really needs. I still don't.

But, here in 2008, I cover the Colorado senate race for my website, The Seminal, and in doing so I've focused on Democratic candidate Mark Udall and Republican candidate Bob Schaffer. I've ignored the 3rd party candidates; Buddy Moore (independent) and Bob Kinsey (Green Party),

As you can gather from my voting history, the exclusion is not ideological. In fact, I fall closer to Kinsey and Moore on the political spectrum than I do Udall. Some illustrative quotes:

From Bob Kinsey's website
The major issue of this race is "Respect Life!" Not in the simplistic sense employed by those who use this motto to make abortion the litmus test for their vote. My chief value is about respecting all Life. Government should be about setting policies that insure we have life on this planet to the "7th Generation". Respecting life requires us to exercise judgment and discipline concerning the vehicles we drive, the housing patterns we build, the new jobs we create. Uncontrolled growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.

From Buddy Moore's website
The idea that there will always be a hungry, principled, independent media to watch over and protect our freedoms has been corrupted. While it appears that there is vast and varied media working hard to keep the public informed, the majority of information presented is tainted by commercial interest. Not only do the mega corporations like big oil, the insurance industry, defense industry, pharmaceutical industry and consumer electronics want to influence the media, they have taken over and own the media. Much of the news we receive over the television, in print, over the internet and on radio is fashioned by the mega corporations. They dictate much of the news reporting to their profit and future designs.

In my ideal world, Colorado would choose one of these two candidates, not Democrat Mark Udall. So, why am I not covering them?

The situation is a catch-22; if I focus on my first two choices Buddy Moore and Bob Kinsey, I'll be hurting my second choice, Mark Udall, and strengthening the candidacy of sweatshop-apologist Bob Schaffer. Additionally, I've only so many hours to devote to writing, so when I get around to a Co-Sen post it makes more sense to support the more viable candidate.

But that answer isn't very satisfying -- one of the reasons 3rd party candidates can't win is because they get little media attention, they get little media attention because they have access to fewer resources, they have fewer resources because they get little media attention, and so on and so forth.

Third-party candidates are the butt of jokes here in the United States, but Ross Perot's success in 1992 is nothing to laugh at. He received just under 20 million votes, nearly half Clinton's 44 million. And that 20 million would've been higher, perhaps considerably higher, if Perot hadn't sapped his own momentum by reconsidering his bid. Contrary to popular opinion, there is room for a 3rd, even a 4th, party in the United States. We just have to decide if we're willing to make room for it.

This year, I'm not.

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