In the early 70s I was on the road. Hitchhiking through Montana I picked up a local radio station on my pocket transistor radio. I heard a woman call in to tell about a find while she was cleaning her attic. A 1928 campaign brochure, Norman Thomas for President.
For those that do not know, Norman Thomas succeeded Eugene V. Debs as leader of the Socialist Party in 1926, he was one of the founders of the ACLU. He ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket in every election from 1928 to 1972, when he died. As a candidate he never polled more than 6% of the popular vote. However, he did manage to get many issues on the table.
The caller on that day in the early '70s told how all of the issues on the Socialist Party platform of 1928, but one, had been achieved. A 40 hour work week, minimum wage, overtime pay, old age pension(Social Security), unemployment insurance, on the job injury insurance(Workman's Compensation), workers safety(OSHA), bank and securities trading regulation. They had all become law. They are all a part of the fabric of modern American society. Even if there have been major efforts to overturn and circumvent them in the last several decades.
Third party candidates get issues into the discussion that otherwise might be ignored. Every vote they garner tells the mainstream candidates that there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands,more who feel the same way but were 'afraid to waste their vote.' It tells the mainstream candidates that perhaps this idea has merit and they should at least consider it.
So everytime I get disillusioned. Everytime I get angry at the apparent stupidity of the system. Everytime I get angry at the apparent stupidity of my fellow citizens. Everytime I get angry at the criminality of our leaders and representatives. I remember standing on a road in the middle of the prairie hearing the voice of hope. I remember that our founding fathers created a self correcting system. And I smile.
A hopeful American, or maybe just a cockeyed optimist.
"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one"-John Lennon-