Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils
A wise elder once said that if you go through life constantly choosing between the lesser of two evils, and never stand up and fight for what you believe, you will inevitably die feeling betrayed, because you betrayed your own ideals. If he's right, most of us who always vote Democrat or Republican but who wish we cold vote for an alternative without feeling we're wasting our vote (perhaps a majority according to some polls) will die rather discontent. But fret no more. The good news is that it is the voter who is voting Democrat or Republican who is throwing away his vote. Here then are FIVE sound reasons why you can vote your heart this November, without feeling you're wasting your vote, and why in fact this is the smartest thing to do to address our country's and planet's most urgent problems:1) Only when a third party gets enough votes to hurt either of the two major parties do the majors begin pushing for the priorities sought by the third party. In fact, many of the best things government has done for us have really been because of third parties or forces outside the parties getting enough power to threaten the two parties' duopoly.Take social security, perhaps our most beloved institution. As virtually every historian will note, if it wasn't for the growing momentum of the Socialist and Populist parties and grassroots movements of the 30's (the Socialists getting almost 1 million votes in the '32 Presidential election and getting many socialists elected as city mayors), FDR and the Democrats would not have been frightened enough to pass social security in 1936 (which was the Socialist Party's most popular demand). It should also be noted that this same third party pressure almost got the Democrats to pass nationalized healthcare in '36 (it barely lost, due to the well funded AMA lobby). It could also be argued that movements towards a third party by African Americans and Chicanos in the late 60s and 70's (e.g. La Raza and the Black Panther Party) deserve much credit for frightening the Democrats into aggressively pushing for much of the great Civil Rights and educational opportunity legislation of the 70s. More recently, it was the Reform Party vote in '92 that got both majors to finally eliminate the budget deficit. Germany's history with the Green Party further proves my point: In the 80s and 90s, when virtually every Democratic or so-called liberal party of every western "democracy' moved significantly toward the right, only the German Social Democrats remained true to their liberal ideals. Why? Because only in Germany was there a strong Green Party (at one time 14 percent of their parliament) that the people could switch their vote to if the Social Democrats started to move right.In the USA, however, with both major parties controlled by millionaires and billionaires, the real tragedy of the upcoming 2000 Presidential election (and almost all Congressional elections) is that one of these two parties will win. Let's face it, we really only have one big-money-controlled party with two wings. If the richest 2 percent of our population can own two parties, isn't it about time that we middle and lower classes have our own party?2) If a 3rd Party can get at least 5 percent or more of the vote in 2000 it will get significant federal funding help for its presidential campaign in 2004. That could be 10-15 million dollars, which could easily triple or quadruple the size of the Greens or Libertarians, enabling them to actually win Congressional and maybe even the Presidential election in 2004.Sound farfetched? Here's an example from the Green Party vote in 1996: Despite the fact that only one out of seven Americans [which translates into one out of 20 actual voters] even knew the Green Party's Presidential Candidate in 1996, Ralph Nader, was running, and despite the fact that he ran in only 21 states, he still got 1 percent of the vote. So if the corporate controlled media does not again ignore him and at least simply informs most Americans this time that Nader is running, 5 percent will be easy, maybe even 7-10 percent when you consider: 1) Nader has promised to put on a serious campaign this time; 2) The party has grown significantly and is working to be on the ballot in all states (though at the time of this writing is still on the ballot in only 12); 3) Its basis is with people who will make every use of the internet that they can, an option scarcely available in '96. 4) Since Nader has been the longest and most courageous fighter in the country against corporate concentration of power, and media ownership in particular, perhaps reporters and editors, if not their bosses, might finally start showing their appreciation by at least including his name as a Presidential candidate whenever the list of Presidential candidates is mentioned this time around.3) Neither of the two major parties are providing real solutions to our three most serious and urgent problems: political corruption, healthcare, and the environment. By "political corruption," I mean the immense concentration of wealth, greater than ever before in our history, in the hands of a few who now basically "own" our government. We no longer have a democracy. We have a plutocracy. Getting back our democracy is the most important issue. If and when this happens, the other two urgent matters below will, I think, get solved as a matter of course.And the only constitutional way I and most other campaign finance reform experts see to get back our government is by having elections publicly funded. After all, when corporations routinely get a billion dollars back in corporate welfare subsidies or tax breaks for every million they donate in campaign contributions, costing the tax payer over 150 billion per year [about $1300/year per tax payer], public financing of elections (which cost 1.5-1.6 billion these last four years, or $3.50/year per tax payer, according to Public Campaign ) is clearly a steal for every American tax payer and the best way ever to cut taxes. But how can public funding of elections ever stand a chance with either the Democrats or Republicans, when those who have bought and own both parties love the system just the way it is, and would lose most of their control if elections were to become publicly financed?Of course what the health insurance industry most dreads, should we have publicly financed elections, is the country's second greatest need, and something every other Western democracy has and cherishes above all other government programs, namely UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE. Both major parties, being under the thumb of the insurance industry, are of course totally opposed to universal healthcare.Finally, virtually every major scientist who isn't on the payroll of a major fossil fuel energy supplier is telling us that the most serious threat the planet (which still includes America last time I looked) faces is global warming. And yet it is not even on the map for either Democrats or Republicans. So here is where I reveal my own third party preference: The Green Party, since it is the only party that has made public financing of elections, universal healthcare, and stopping Global warming by creating a sustainable economy its top priorities.So applying that lesson of history I mentioned in #1 above to today, if the Green Party and its candidate, Ralph Nader, were to get at least 3.5 million votes in 2000 (5 percent), you'd be a lot more likely to see the Democratic Party finally adopting any or all of the above priorities than if you wasted your vote on that party, just as we saw the Democrats finally adopting and pushing for the Social Party's Social Security plank in 1936.4) The fact that the next President might choose two new supreme court justices does not frighten me. If a Democrat wins, given how conservative the two leading candidates are, Republicans' interests will stay protected. And if a Republican wins? Except for Breyer, the three most liberal judges appointed in recent times -- Stevens, Brennan, and Blackman (who wrote Roe v. Wade) -- were all appointed by Republicans! The public is now so vastly in favor of a woman's right to choose that even were the court to reverse Roe v. Wade, there would be such an outcry that Congress would quickly do an end run. And most recently, even the conservative Rehnquist voted in favor of states' rights to limit campaign contributions. So assuming that Republican Presidents always or even usually choose like-minded justices has little empirical basis.5) Only when the two major parties begin losing elections because of "spoilers" like the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Reform Party that we will ever have a chance to have a real democracy. By "real democracy" I simply mean one that gives representation to any point of view , even if it's not backed by the millionaires and billionaires, as long as it has, say, at least 3 percent of the country (2 million voters) behind it. This is called a proportional system of representation. It's a system where if a party gets 3 percent of the vote, they get 3 percent of the seats. It's that simple, and it's what virtually every other democracy in the world has (certainly the 15 that have higher standards of living than ours!). Our current winner-take-all system, on the other hand, leaves almost half the voters totally unrepresented, since most losing candidates still get at least 44-49 percent of the vote. But our system won't change until third parties get enough votes to spoil elections for the two majors. Only then will the majors see it in their own best interests to allow a proportional system of representation, and give up their monopolistic take over of what was supposed to be a country of, by and for the people, rather than of, by, and for the insurance industry and the big multinationals.Conclusion: It is voting for either of the two major parties that is throwing away your vote. Worse than wasting your vote, choosing the lesser of either of these two evils, both of whom are controlled by the same few powerful interests, is a choice to accept and perhaps even increase the already record gap between rich and poor here and far more profoundly in the third world, the already record level of child poverty and exploitation of humans abroad, the record levels of torture and political repression by governments we and some of our multinational corporations support, and for continuing the catastrophic devastation of the planet. In other words, it is still a choice of a terrible and perhaps, in the case of the planet, irreversible evil, and is a choice to again abandon and betray what our great experiment was supposed to be about -- democracy of, for, and by the PEOPLE.Since sentiment without action is death to the soul, here are the web sites to find out how you can help any of the leading third parties: www.Greens.org, Reformparty.org, LP.org (Libertarian Party), and NewParty.org.Gary Krane, PhD, is a political media consultant and Director of the TV and Democracy Project in Van Nuys, Ca. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright Gary Krane PhD.