There are tradeoffs with this 2 party system. The advantage is that during every election, we know what to expect from the candidates. Candidates from the Them party tell us to be grateful for the job they are doing while candidates from the Not Them party promise to bring renewal. The downside is that our leaders and candidates tend to listen as little as possible to the people. This is because, as they would say in real estate, the fewer the choices, the more we have a seller's market. In political terms we have a candidate's or, more precisely, a political party's market rather than a voter's market.
We should note that even on a good day, electing officials from more than two parties is not only good for democracy, it is normal. Countries such as Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, and France elect officials from more than two parties.
If electing officials from more than two parties is healthy when times are good, how much more do we need such representation during a crisis or a scandal? And lucky us, we have both crises and a scandals this election year. Our most pressing crisis is the Iraq War. Our most burning scandal is the House Republicans and who knew what when regarding Representative Foley. History tells us that crises and scandals know no difference between the Them and Not Them parties
So what stops us from electing representatives from parties other than Them and Not Them? First, we stop ourselves. For a variety of reasons, we are afraid to vote for candidates from other parties. Some fear that their vote will not count because 3rd party candidates have no chance to win while others are simply scared of changing from our two party system. Those who are too frightened to vote for 3rd party candidates have no right to complain when there is no one worthwhile to vote for.
Second, the government, which is made up of officials from the Them and Not Them parties, make laws that many times rule out the admission of third party candidates on ballots. Though there are some ballots that include candidates from 3rd parties, it does not occur often enough to give 3rd party candidates much of a chance. Ralph Nader's trials with getting on ballots in the 2004 Presidential election reveal the legal barriers and obstacles that are meant to limit voters' choices.
And then there are some broadcast media and debate sponsors who are also limiting our choices by keeping candidates who are on ballots from participating in broadcasted debates. Not only is this exclusion of 3rd party candidates from public debates an affront to both these candidates and the voters, it acts as an implicit discrediting of these candidates. Instances where the barring of legitimate 3rd party candidates from participating in debates in these 2006 midterm elections can be seen are in Michigan, New York, California, Tennessee, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
What can we do when a two party democracy gives us a government that feels no need to either listen to us or work for real solutions? Strategically, we need to work to establish a voter's market so that candidates and political parties are working to earn our votes rather than take our support for granted. To accomplish this, we need to work and vote for 3rd party candidates. We will never have a voter's market until candidates from 3rd party candidates hold public office.
If voting for 3rd party candidates is currently too much to consider, then the least we can do is to demand that 3rd party candidates be included on our ballots and in all public debates. Excluding 3rd party candidates from ballots and public debates for the lack of public support is a self maintaining practice. We should note that including 3rd party candidates on ballots and in debates is neither a liberal nor conservative issue since there are both liberal and conservative 3rd party candidates.
Finally, we should note that voters from other countries elect officials from more than two parties. The Canadians do it. The Israelis do it. Even the uptight funny sounding British do it. Let's do it. Let's elect officials from more than two parties--or at least put them on more ballots and in more public debates.