Why is our political discourse limited solely to a left-right paradigm? Why is it that we’re limited to only two choices when it’s time to select our next government representative? Why are we told that a vote for anything beyond the two party realm is a “wasted vote?” And are our “two choices” fundamentally all that different?
These are the questions we are not supposed to ask. And if someone dares to address them, it’s with the usual “we have to beat the other guy,” “lesser of two evils” rhetoric.
I’m tired of it.
I once considered myself a Republican. But the Republican Party has been hijacked by neoconservatives, statists, and progressives that have little regard for limited government, fiscal conservatism, and individual liberty. I then considered myself a conservative. But it turns out “conservative” no longer infers that one believes in a conservative, limited government, but rather that one is socially conservative, and wishes to utilize government “authority” to promulgate those values among the rest of the population. With few exceptions, this summarizes that majority of the Republican party, and you know what? Their fundamental view that government can no longer be small or limited, and that personal liberties must make way for “national security” or certain social values is fundamentally indistinguishable from our “other choice.”
The Democrat Party has proven over the last century (and no less so, the last decade), that it too wants to wage certain wars, infringe on civil liberties, perpetuate a nanny state, and spend like there’s no tomorrow. Ultimately, the differences between our “two choices” are limited only to how they want to use the government, rather than how they want to limit the government and protect personal freedoms. The Constitution designed to protect your individual liberties is only pertinent when it underpins their agenda, and is otherwise a nuisance or outdated document.
This brings us to the third largest party in the United States: the Libertarian Party. While Republicans and Democrats debate which country they would drop bombs on or place boots on the ground in, Libertarian candidates are proposing that our military is reserved for defense purposes or to prevent/repel imminent attacks on U.S. citizens and soil (and only via the means prescribed by the Constitution). While other candidates talk about increasing taxes on this group a couple percent or lowering them for that group a couple percent, Libertarians are advocating for the total abolition of our immoral tax code and the IRS. And while Republicans and Democrats are debating tweaks they’d make to interest rates, subsidies they’d like to handout, “adjusting” or “replacing” the Affordable Care Act (misnomer), or “reforms” they would make to the NSA or the USA PATRIOT Act (another misnomer), Libertarians are calling for a full audit or abolishment of the Federal Reserve, ending corporate subsidies, returning our health care industry to a free market system, and repealing ineffective and unconstitutional legislation.
The Republican party likes to paint Libertarian candidates as “vote stealers,” but is it really “stealing a vote” when a Republican candidate’s proposals and philosophies on government are so much different from a Libertarian Candidate’s? When YOU make the personal decision to vote for Libertarian Bob instead of Republican Larry, did Libertarian Bob really steal a vote from Republican Larry?
Democrats and Republicans both like to convince voters that any vote cast for a third party candidate is a “wasted” vote. Voting for the same thing over and over again and somehow expecting a different result, sounds more like a wasted vote. The very fact that Republicans and Democrats alike choose to ridicule, mock, or marginalize libertarian voters rather than work towards encompassing them ought to be evidence enough that it’s not real “change” or “reform” that they intend to institute. Rather, they’ll work tirelessly to ensure Libertarian candidates aren’t invited to their debates (Gary Johnson in 2012, comes to mind) or enact a barrier (by legislation) to prevent third party candidates from appearing on a ballot.
Do not mistake this as some grandiose attempt to convince you to vote for every Libertarian candidate on your ballot, or even depress you or make the situation seem hopeless, because it’s not. My feelings wouldn’t not be hurt if every ballot had 3, 4, or even 10 choices on it. But what every ballot (and debate) should have is a candidate that promotes actual change. Having such a candidate is entirely plausible, and the responsibility rests with you, the voter.
As a voter, you unfortunately are now tasked with giving due diligence in your decision at the ballot box. I say “unfortunately,” because life shouldn’t be so complicated, and neither should our government. Regrettably, our “two parties” have willingly perpetuated a system so convoluted that their differences seem significant, partisan politics dominates media, commentary, and meaningful political debate, and any viewpoint, opinion, or candidate that represents anything out of the mainstream realm of discourse is ignored or relegated to second-tier status.
As a voter, though, you can change this. It’s your vote, after all, that they want.
-Chris Mayo (L), candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (IN-7)