1988 was the first year I could participate in a presidential election. That was the year I turned eighteen. It was also the year (in fact, the exact day of my birthday) that the Soviet Union committed to withdrawing it’s troops from Afghanistan. It was the year I finished high school and started college. And despite all these things “adult”, I refrained from being involved in politics and abstained from voting. I was happier in the knowledge that I could legally buy tobacco and porn but upset that my “juvenile transgressions” were now “adult crimes”. These things were more important to me then.
My father was a Goldwater Republican and voted for the Libertarian Party since their founding in 1971. I grew up with the kind of political philosophy that no one owes you anything and any happiness had to be earned – by me.
The second big influence to my political philosophy came from music. Today I couldn’t tell you if Jello Biafra is an ignored genius or a paranoid schizophrenic but back in the late 1980s, he was a hero of mine. Punk rock was always laid with political overtures but the Dead Kennedys were polluted with it.
So when November 8, 1988 came around, and one of my best friends voted for Bush (Republican) and my other best friend voted for Dukakis (Democrat), I ate cookies or drank a milkshake or something more satisfying and a better use of my time.
Come 1992, I had a second chance to vote and this time, I did. I did because of Ross Perot. He didn’t win.
Come 1996, somewhere around end of summer, Harry Browne flashed on the television and preached words to me that were exciting. But at the time, I was still with Perot. He had the best chance to break through the Demopublican fence. And it was strong. I was torn. For the first time, I was torn on what to do…
Some have told me that I waste my vote for the Libertarian Party because third parties “never win”. They point out the celebrity status of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader (and go back to when Teddy Roosevelt tried a final time through a third party). The nay-sayer notes that if they couldn’t get elected, a smaller figure has even less of a chance. I think they say this because, unlike some other nations, our elections are winner take all.
Look at the results of the past thirty-years of U.S. Presidential Elections and you’ll see an almost 50/50 split by popular vote. Whether it’s a Republican or Democrat winner, this margin of win is so small it’s as if voters are flipping coins behind the closed curtain. Is it true the voting population is 50/50? More than likely, it is not. We have over one-thousand religions based off the Bible, I doubt we only have two political parties (some so and some not) based on the Constitution. No, what is probably more at work is voting for the lesser of two evils, name recognition, ad time, fund raising, etc. And in the end, the winner takes all. If you had a donkey and an elephant running for president, and the donkey gets 51% of the vote and the elephant gets 49%, there is no 51/49 representation in the White House. It would be all Jackass politics. It was originally intended that the greatest vote getter would be president and the next highest getter would be vice-president. We don’t have that anymore. If we did, third parties might show a stronger vote total as people might think there’s no way Joe Smith can beat a Barack Obama but at least, he could end up vice-president.
If only the media would pay more attention to third parties. Well, it won’t unless another Ross Perot or Ralph Nader enters the ring (oh if only Clint Eastwood would do more than talk to a chair and represent the LP like his rhetoric has in the past). But even if a celebrity came again up from behind, as history has shown, that is not enough to break through.
First and foremost, the media pays most attention to front runners. This includes incumbents which, right now, are Republicans and Democrats. They are provided with media attention even if they don’t run ads. In 2012, Obama could have done nothing but sunned himself on the beach and the media would have surrounded him daily. Third parties are not in such a privileged position so no matter how many pancake flips they can do for the homeless, the news won’t be there. Third parties have very little money to run ads, to get attention. This explains why their presence is highest on the Internet which is the cheapest of mediums.
The Republicans and Democrats have also set up laws against third parties. They have passed laws on donation limits, campaign subsidies, monopolizing the debate commission and throwing up numerous barriers to ballot access.
Michael C. Ruppert described the Democrat/Republican stronghold this way. He said, “It’s organized crime. All you do is you call the Republicans the Genovese and you call the Democrats the Gambinos. The people at the top, they treat it like a crap game, like it’s their crap game, like their making lots of money. Occasionally, somebody at this table shoots each other but the moment anything threatens their crap game, they all unite to protect it.”
Instead of reinventing the wheel and dragging this post out for pages upon pages, I will direct you to a detailed description of the points noted above (if you wish such details). Written by the late-great Harry Browne, he wrote it best in his article entitled, “What We’re Up Against” and I counsel you to read it.
What we’re up against is an established and entrenched group of people who keep growing government. They keep it going to the tune of trillions of dollars annually and, with the recent Sequester, cry that the sky is falling when a lousy $85 billion must go. They take donations and, in turn, provide favors or block bills introduced in congress as paybacks. Most importantly, they forget who they represent, they forget (or choose to ignore) the importance of their jobs and get while the getting is good. This must change. I’d like to get back to a government that supports only Rights and not granting entitlements. And right now, only the Libertarian Party is doing that.
Oh yeah, what happened in 1996?
I was still a Perot supporter despite the enlightening rhetoric of Harry Browne. Like other voters today, I was going with Perot because I figured he had the best chance to beat the Demopublicans and take all. So after work, I went to my precinct, showed my ID, took my card and went behind the curtain. I debated with myself. Should I vote for Perot? Should I vote for Harry Browne? Harry spoke to me. Harry was like my dad. Harry was like me. But Perot could do it. If anyone could break the mob, Perot could. He had the best chance. So I hovered my pen over the card and went to mark the oval by Perot’s name. And I remembered Perot’s words. He said, “Vote your conscious”. And I voted for Harry Browne.