On the viability of 3rd party candidates

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On the viability of 3rd party candidates

Postby Technetium » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:10 pm

I'm not a member of the Libertarian Party (although I do agree with more of their views than I disagree with), and I probably won't ever sign up with any party because I don't want others to assume I hold certain opinions because of party affiliation. But, I want to help end the R/D duopoly.

I want to talk about functional strategies for electing 3rd party candidates. Let's talk about what the core obstacles are, and how we can address them. I kind of feel that 3rd parties in this country hold on to a "just try and spread the message" view. This does not work. We need to be realistic. Take Ralph Nader, for example. Most people knew about him. Yet I would be willing to bet that the majority of people who would have preferred him most in 2000 voted for Al Gore instead. Like I said, let's put a stop to misguided strategies that pretty much all 3rd parties are using to get nowhere. Let's solve this problem. A recent poll suggested a majority of the population would like to have 3rd party alternatives.

The biggest obstacle to any 3rd party candidate is fear of wasted vote. But what does this fear really simplify as? It's fear of your worst choice candidate among the two major parties. People who are independents or perhaps even registered Libertarians most likely dislike one of the major party candidates more than the other in most elections. The fear of the worst-case scenario is what drives people to vote for the 2nd-worst-case scenario. And the way our voting system operates, if you want to stop the worst-case-scenario, the logical choice is to vote for whoever has the best chance of defeating that candidate. I'm not really talking about anything you don't already know.

So breaking it down, there are two major obstacles (and the effort of the party should be in addressing these factors, not wasting time "spreading the message"):
1. Eliminating fear of spoiler
2. Dealing with a voting system that is rigged against 3rd parties

About the 2nd problem: Our method of voting sounds fair on the surface. The person with the most votes wins, and that's it. The problem is that this will always, inevitably lead to a 2-party system like we have now. If at any time there are two parties that can play each other as opposites, especially who can use the fear factor to argue against each other, the voting process will devolve over time into a lesser-of-two-evils vote. I think that 3rd parties pretend they are on equal ground with the two major parties when it comes to voting, and that it's just a matter of getting the message out. This is wrong. You are playing by the rules of the 2-party leaders. These rules are stacked against you. You cannot play the game the same way that they are playing it. That's what they want, and that's how they win. So the voting system needs to change. There are a few ideas on how to do this, but it basically requires that the system is already not being run by Democrats and Republicans, because none of them want to change it. So let's talk about other ways to get our 3rd party candidates in using some tricky means. That means dealing with the spoiler effect first.

The answer to the first problem is actually rather counter-intuitive. The spoiler fear is intensified by rhetoric from the opposing parties. Every time there's an election, the two major parties paint their opponents as the end of the nation, if they are elected. Eliminating the spoiler effect, therefore, is as simple as denying the danger in either candidate. Let's be honest. We survived 8 years of Bush, and 4 years of Obama. In all likelihood, we're going to have another 4 years of Obama. We'll survive that, too. Neither Obama nor Romney is going to "destroy the country". They'll just be mediocre presidents that will not really do anything good. Spread the idea of mediocrity, not nation-ending. In order to defeat the spoiler fear, we need non-Republicans who lean conservative to recognize that Obama is not going to destroy the country, and for non-Democrats who lean liberal to recognize that Romney will not either. If a liberal-leaning independent does not fear for his life should Romney be elected, then he's less likely to hesitate in voting for a 3rd party candidate he likes most. This would be a far healthier voting environment than we have now.

This is a good start, but it's not enough. Again, you can't just have your strategy be "convince people of your side, then win". The other idea will probably not be liked by a lot of people in this party, but hear me out. The Libertarian party is simply not big enough to challenge the other two. I call for an alliance between 3rd parties in order to defeat the common enemies. This means the Greens, the Constitutionalists, and even the party's ideological adversaries, the socialists. Put aside the differences to focus on what the main issue must be: Creating a climate where 3rd party candidates can compete with the two parties who have had a stranglehold on this country for long enough. This means a change to the voting system. We should work together, pick a candidate who is an absolute moderate on issues the various 3rd parties disagree on. The primary issue the candidate will push for is voting reform. Surely the combined numbers of these parties would have a stronger affect on the population than they would individually. And most Americans favor relatively moderate views so being moderate on the other issues is good not only for holding the alliance together, but for keeping voters from being turned away. So the strategy is to pool all resources behind this candidate, and then push strongly for voting reform once elected.

There are many ways that the voting system could be improved. There are all different types of Ranked-Choice voting methods that often produce a winner who is first choice with a minority of the population, but more importantly is someone that a majority of the population is happy with. Another option is to simply let people choose between casting a positive vote or a negative vote (particularly polarizing candidates will be largely negated, and it could result in the election of the candidate that people simply dislike the least). But this can only happen when we have people in government who aren't benefiting from the current system.

I probably made some errors because this is a long post. Anyway, my whole point for registering here is that I want to help change to a system where 3rd party candidates can compete, where I don't feel like we are perpetually stuck with the lesser of two evils. This should be an objective that the Libertarian Party shares, if it ever wants to get anyone elected.
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Re: On the viability of 3rd party candidates

Postby Phillies » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:11 pm

Britain has first past the post elections and three major parties.

The notion that the US has usually had only two parties skips around the practical matter that the Dixiecrats were severely not like their fellow Democrats, being far more conservative than Republicans, and now that they have taken over the Republicans orthodox Republicans are being hounded out as RINOs.
For more of the Same, vote Democratic.
For no change, vote Republican.
For real change, VOTE LIBERTARIAN
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