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Election 2008 – No Three Ways About It

Posted by gravisman on June 8, 2008

Today the 2008 presidential campaign became effectively a two person race. While I am greatly relieved that neither of them is named Clinton, I still feel a great sadness in the number two. It is the very fact that we are forced into this position of choosing between two candidates for each election (in very rare circumstances, there are three candidates with enough power to hope to win) that undermines our our entire political system.

If we were given a choice between living in New York City or Mobile, Alabama, I think a great number of us would be completely unrepresented by those choices and happy with neither. Few us would accept choosing the color of our house between black and white, would live with choosing to be a slave or slave master, or would fail to complain if our transportation choices were only walk or fly; how is it that we accept only Republican or Democrat?

Many of us will claim that this is just the way the system works and it is not our fault, and to some degree that is true. The system is setup to destroy all options but two. The root of the problem lies in Congressional elections, rather than Presidential. All members of Congress get their jobs through elections where the people can only choose one person to put in office. Taking into account that we have many election districts, this leaves us in the following state: if there are two parties each of which is supported by approximately 40% of the people, and there is a third party which is supported by 20% of the people, the third party will be left completely unrepresented. This is because the two powerful parties will battle it out in each district, and each will end up winning about half of the districts. The third party, though supported by about 20% of the total votes (no small number!) will get zero representatives, because they don’t have enough to win any one district. Unable to fill any congressional seats, this third party is left with no legs under it to even attempt a real presidential bid. The futility of its existence will ultimately erode its support base and it is through these forces that the election system makes it virtually impossible for any parties except for the two most powerful to exist.

Despite this fatally flawed system, it is important that we remember not to be funneled into only one of two directions of thought. The media and cultural forces around us have made everything seem like Obama, Clinton, or McCain, and in the future they will be sure to make everything seem like Obama or McCain, but there are most certainly other ways of thinking.

Obama is a charismatic leader with promises to shake up Washington. He also promises one of the disastrous possibilities for American politics: universal health care. As much as I cringe at the terrible thought of the US as a police state both inside and out with its homeland security and foreign relations policies, I am comforted by the fact that these things can be undone in the future. The scary thing about universal health care is that an entitlement program of that nature will never go away once implemented. Forever will we as taxpayers be committed to spending our money on inefficiencies inherent in huge government-run programs and will be forced by men with guns to pay for other people’s drugs. If you don’t believe me about the “men with guns” try not paying your taxes.

McCain, while maybe not as much of a long term threat as our friend Obama, is nevertheless a man who seems determined to continue on the road of foreign policy that has so much angered our world neighbors in the past as to bring mass hate and terror to our soil. Worse than that, his campaign has openly acknowledged that he would continue (and likely expand, as that is the nature of the executive) domestic surveillance programs. To that I simply say, while many remark that if you are innocent you have nothing to hide, I say that if I am free, you have no reason to watch me.

I wish there were a solution I could give to make things better today. There is not. Those who embrace freedom, or even embrace free thought, not tethered to one of two ideas, should work to over time educate and enhance support for an improved electoral system. In the mean time, I think Mr. Ron Paul has tapped on a growing group of Americans who believe that this is, and should be, the land of the free. I believe that group will continue to grow over the next decade or two. I believe that if we continue to remember we can think whatever we want to think that there will come a time when our numbers and our power can force a change even in a system as flawed as this one.

2 Responses to “Election 2008 – No Three Ways About It”

  1. krissmith777 said

    I was going to vote for Ron Paul at first, then I saw McCain could actually win the nomination. I freaked and voted for Romney.

    I distinctly meant to vote against McCain meaning I’ll feel like a sell out if I were to vote for him. I wanted a Fiscal Conservative. Not an anti-tax cut politician.

    And Obama . . . the man is a socialist which totally disqualifies him in my book.

  2. CurlyFoot said

    Ummm… you mean DOCTOR Ron Paul, right??

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