A Third Party Victory is Inevitable Part 1: ...So Why Not Now?
Part 2: I'm Outraged!
Part 3: How I Became a Green
Part 4: Comparing the Platforms
Part 5: An Open Letter to Al Gore
Part 6: Vote for Ralph! (Unless...)
By Andrew Looney

Part 1: ...So Why Not Now?

Some say that voting for a third party candidate is like throwing your vote away. Others say it's worse than useless, that it's really just voting for the Other Guy, since in theory you're taking your vote away from the major candidate whose views are closest to your own. And perhaps those people are right. But that's fatalism talking. I hate fatalism.

First of all, the law of averages says that upsets and underdog victories are inevitable. It's a long shot to be sure, but a shot worth taking nonetheless, since sooner or later, an outsider will win. It happened just last year at the gubernatorial level (with the election of a *professional wrestler* no less) and it happened at the presidential level only a century or so ago, with the election of a somewhat famous gent named Abraham Lincoln. (Before his victory with the then-new Republican party, American politics were dominated by the Democrats and the Whigs.) And sooner or later, it will happen again. So why not now?

As for those who say that a vote for the independent is a vote for the Other Guy, they're missing the key point that *neither major candidate properly represents my viewpoints*. As third party advocates at both ends of the spectrum are always saying, a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. I don't believe in voting against that which I fear... I believe in voting for that which I believe in. Moreover, if this causes the Other Guy to win, well, then at least my vote won't have been meaningless. Sure, the next four years will suck, but at least the Other Guy won't have a clear mandate, and our power as a voting block will command more respect thereafter.

Everything changes over time. Even great institutions change as the world changes around them. Such institutions must evolve or die, and major institutions do both every single day. And so it is with political parties. For a long, long time, our two major parties have had a lock on politics in this country, and both of these institutions have changed with the times as needed to survive... up to this point. But sooner or later, one (or both) of these parties will falter and die, like the Whigs before them, in turn being replaced by new political organizations with new ideas. It will happen -- eventually. And even if it doesn't happen this fall, the success of third party candidates in this year's election will shape the success of those parties in the years to come. Change is inevitable.

And the time for change truly is at hand. It's the year 2000, and the country isn't just ready for something new, it's expecting it. Although they do differ on a few key points, the democrats and republicans have both moved so close to the political center as to be indistinguishable on many issues, causing many commentators to refer to them collectively as "Republicrats". As such, both parties are failing to address the concerns of many constituents, and these angry and frustrated voters are primed and ready for the fresh ideas of new political parties.

There are several vital issues in particular which are being largely ignored by both the media and the politicians, of which perhaps the most important and least addressed is our failed War on Drugs. I myself am outraged by this disastrous re-run of Prohibition, and my voting decisions this fall will be greatly influenced by the candidates' positions on this issue.

Having become an outspoken critic of modern prohibition, I've been paying a lot more attention to politics this year than I ever have before. Thanks to C-SPAN, I've been able to see coverage not just of the Republicrat conventions, but of the Libertarian, Reform-Buchanan, Reform-Natural Law, Constitution, and Green party national conventions. I also saw portions of the Shadow Conventions on C-SPAN, and we even drove up to Philly for a day to take part in one of these outsider events. Plus I've spent a lot of time reading through the actual platform statements of these parties (All Hail the Internet), and later in this report I'll provide my impressions of these conventions and a comparison of the stated positions of each of these platforms on the particular issue of national drug policy.

But what's really significant in all of this is the simple fact that so many alternate political parties are now vying for your vote. Several of these new groups are gaining national attention, and any of them could go on to become the major players in the political landscapes of the future. Choosing to support a third party candidate is no longer a matter of simply declaring yourself an independent voter. These new parties all have different platforms, different positions, and different priorities, and candidates from these parties are increasingly showing up at the state and local levels. So it's time to start taking an objective look at the full range of political affiliations we are being offered, and sign on with one that truly represents your ideas, rather than simply voting for whoever's on the ticket you traditionally support. And when I do that, I come up with one very clear answer: I am a Green forever, and I'm voting for Ralph Nader this fall. I urge you to do the same.

Next, in Part 2: I'm Outraged!

Copyright © 2000 by Andrew Looney.

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