I do not buy the argument that the only way to have real political influence is to belong to one of the two biggest parties. First, if I have to compromise my beliefs against Evangelical Christian extremism (to support the Republican party) or excessive government spending (to support the Democratic party), then I'd rather drop out of all involvement in politics (as many, many Americans are doing). Second, the argument that the best strategy is to join one of these parties and try to change it from within strikes me as baloney - you are far more likely to just get pandering comments from the powers-that-be within the party, while meanwhile you're effectively supporting the gay-bashing or trial lawyer protection that you actually oppose. Finally, there is plenty of evidence that third parties can make a difference - the Republican party in 1860 was a third party, the Farm Labor party that dominated Minnesota politics in the 1930's and 40's was a third party, the Reform Party changed the national dialogue about deficit spending in the 1980's and 90's was a third party, and the Independence Party that elected Jesse Ventura is a third party.
When I ran for State Representative, I did so as an Independence Party candidate because the IP is the only party with the values that I can support - fiscal responsibility and social tolerance. For people who believe that government should spend within its means and that the government doesn't belong in our bedrooms, the IP is the only party. It makes far more sense for those of us who hold these values to work for the success of the IP then to compromise our values simply to pretend we're "winning" by being part of a party that elects more candidates, but doesn't support values that we believe in.
-- David Allen, Bloomington, MN
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Rant about third party politics from another state
This was posted to an email discussion list where I lurk and listen.