Call me psychotic, but I’ve been walking around lately wondering why I feel so different from everybody. So, I called up Matt Gonzalez over at the Nader/Gonzalez campaign (the vice presidential candidate for the Independent ticket in this presidential election) and asked him if he could diagnose my problem.
I said to Gonzalez, “What do you think of this idea that people are suffering from a psychosis if they spout off this “lesser of two evils” logic and decide to vote third party?”
Gonzalez addressed my condition by offering an explanation for why people are bothered by those who wish to vote third party:
“We encounter a lot of people who buy into this. I think that the way I try to talk to them is I point out to them (and they generally agree) that the only reason other candidates can’t run is because of the way that we do elections. And they very quickly agree that what we need is majority elections in this country so that nobody can spoil a contest. Most people agree with this fundamental democratic principle that, in a democracy, candidates with different views ought to be allowed to run.
So, once somebody agrees to that---the idea that people ought to be allowed to run and the real problem is with the system---I start to point out that the reason the system doesn’t get reformed isn’t that there isn’t a valuable system change. It’s that the two parties are actively engaged in not reforming the system. In the last eight years, they don’t talk about instant run-off voting or mandating a majority election.
And then I point out that Democrats complain about Nader but they hardly ever mention Ross Perot who cost the Republicans the presidency in 1992 under the same “spoiling” concept. So, once somebody gets the fact that the parties that hold the keys to making change are not doing it than I argue to vote for their candidates when you disagree with them on issues like the war, civil liberties, etc. is to reward them for their inaction. That’s not the way to build a more democratic society---a more egalitarian society.
If you don’t start voting your conscience and start voting for the candidates you want, you in effect insure that the system stays in place because the other parties are counting on you to get to this place and say, “Gee, I can’t vote for these candidates. They’re not in the contest."
And of course, when you really go further into the Commission on Presidential Debates, you realize, well, this is not an independent commission. This is a private corporation operated by the two major parties who in effect retaliated against independent candidacies after Ross Perot ran by creating a threshold of 15% to get into the debates that you simply can’t reach without being let into the debates. It’s a system that needs to be changed and it’s not going to be changed without alternative efforts."
I wiped the sweat from my forehead and felt a quick spell of relief come over me. I wasn’t suffering from a psychosis at all.
I then wondered why the progressive media hasn’t been giving third party presidential candidates a fair shake. Why have they been extraordinarily deferential towards the Democratic candidate and not third party candidates who might stand up for progressive values?
Gonzalez responded to my concern and talked about how the progressive media has failed to ask the Republican and Democratic candidates hard questions. He described how the U.S. Commodities Futures Modernization Act was passed and signed by a Democratic president in 2000.
“This is probably the one piece of legislation that’s most responsible for the Wall Street crisis because it eliminated any regulations on banking institutions’ abilities to sell credit derivatives, credit default swaps; and without regulation it turned out that these institutions were selling what in effect is insurance against risky investments without being sufficiently capitalized, without being sufficiently leveraged. Rather overleveraging them selves, not having the capital to back up the sales of those derivatives.
And so, the question that ought to be posed to these candidates is “Look guys. Both of your parties signed on to laws that put us in this crisis. Why should the American people trust you to lead them out of this problem?” That’s the problem. The media isn’t asking the right questions.”
So, what about the issues? I wanted to know if there were any differences between the candidates on the issues.
Right now, the media wants to focus on the different people each candidate is associated with and who they use or don’t use to stump for their campaigns, but what mattered to me was the issues.