Americans Elect

It is no secret that the electorate here in United States is not happy with our government.  It’s not so much how are government is set up that is the problem, it’s the two political parties that dominate the landscape.  It has devolved into a duocracy.  One has to be a Democrat or a Republican to seek office within Congress or to run for President.  Every once in awhile, an Independent candidate can sneak into a seat in the House of Representatives.  But the two major parties cater to one set demographic each… their core constituents.  This leaves moderates in the parties and those that are independents left on the outside.  It is only during a general election that candidates will change their tone and move toward the center to pick up that demographic which is crucial for victory.

Seeing upon how little our government has been working as of late, and on how “compromise” has become a dirty word, no one seems to be listening to the voice of the people and what we say.  (see previous blog)  Is this a new thing?  Not really.  But we have grown weary of the inaction by our government to step up and take control over the big issues of the day… regulations that make sense, fair taxes, term limits for Congress, cuts in government spending and bringing down the debt, and entitlement reforms… among many other things.  To each of us, each of these things means something different and the solutions are just as diverse as the population.  However which way you look at them, the elected officials usually dig their heals into their party platforms and refuse to budge on anything (except maybe a crumb here and there).  It gets nothing accomplished because no one wants to work together and get these issues taken care of.  They are afraid of appearing weak in front of their voting base, though in the end, they look week to a larger portion of Americans.

Back in May 2010, a new poll showed that 31% of Americans favored a third political party.  This may in part explain the rise of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party during that year’s election cycle.  However, favor for the Tea Party has fallen since then.  My guess to that is because they are seen as the primary obstacle for getting anything done because they refuse to work with anyone.  They are basically the children within Congress.  You either have to play by their rules or they aren’t playing.  My overall point, though, is that Americans are growing more and more eager to support a third-party candidate… someone to shake up the system.

Third-party candidates usually don’t fare well on the national scene.  Ross Perot got 19% of the popular vote in 1992 as an Independent, and Theodore Roosevelt came in 2nd place (in front of current President William Howard Taft) in 1912 as Progressive.  Other candidates have just become spoilers to the main two candidates, and that is seen as one of the biggest drawbacks to supporting a third-party candidate.  If a candidate doesn’t come from the Democratic or Republican parties, they are seen us unelectable, so rather than support the candidate that they really want, a voter will go vote for the candidate of the major party that they want so the other guy doesn’t win.  And to me, that is no way to be voting at all.  With the call for a third-party the highest its been in years and maybe decades, the time is now for voters to actually vote for a different party other than a Democrat or Republican.  The other hard part is that Democrats and Republicans are usually guaranteed spots on every state ballot (and DC) automatically.  A third-party candidate has to file in each state and go through each state’s rules for filing.  This is something that gears the process toward the two main parties.

Even the primary process for determining who the nominee will be to run for President for each party disenfranchises people.  Some are closed to only those that are within the party.  And the process is aimed at front runners, narrowing the field, and choosing from those that only wish to seek the office.  Independents are left out… and it should be us that determines who we want to run our country.  Back in the founding days of our nation, men like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, etc., didn’t actively run for President.  In fact, most said they didn’t want to be; however, if the people chose them, they would do as they were asked in service of their country.  To run for President as we do now was seen an un-gentleman-like and the first sign that someone shouldn’t be President.  (They usually had surrogates do the campaigning for them so they could keep their hands clean.)

There is something new for next year though.  It’s called Americans Elect (website), and it’s determined to give the people more of a say in an actual third-party candidate.  They are listening to the people over the importance of issues and where we stand on them.  And they are already hard at work to get their candidate on the ballot in every state and DC.  There are only certain states that will allow a candidate to file to get on a ballot this early, but Americans Elect are already on  in 11 states and almost done in California.  The rest are ready to filed next year once they are able to.  This would clear the way for a third-party candidate to get on the ballot in each state and remove a major obstacle.  The other hitch is this… whoever runs for President and Vice President on this ticket, must come from different sides of the aisle (Democrat and Republican or vice versa, Democrat and Independent or vice versa, Republican and Independent or vice versa.)  It’s an interesting concept… and one that is trying to listen to the populace and rise above political ideology.  Third party candidates are considered as well (i.e. Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc.).  For the moderates, independents, and those wanting a real third political party, this might just be the option.  The nominating process is done by all the people online… and even the nominating convention is done online rather than wasting tons of money at a four-day event.  Even the two major political parties that make up our duocracy are taking notice of this new movement and are already addressing it.

Regardless of which candidate any of us choose to support, I think it’s important to remember that we should have more choices than just the two party system.  No, I don’t think we should have a ballot that has so many names that it becomes a pamphlet, but still more than two.  And it is not right not to vote for a third-party candidate just because you don’t want a different candidate to win of a major party.  It’s time we wake up and start voting for candidates that we actually want to vote for and give them a chance at victory instead of just throwing our vote away to a major political party/ideology that has shut out most of the voices in this country.  As I have watched the Republican primary unfold, I have seen and heard nothing that has given me any confidence that any of them are up to the task that would be set upon them should they win.  And as for the Democratic primary, there isn’t even a choice since no one is challenging the current President… which again leaves even parts of its own party without a voice.  This is not the way we should be electing our leaders here in the 21st century, and it is time to shake up the system.  I will be watching the Americans Elect process next year as it unfolds… as I will be doing with the other parties as well.  This could be a major opportunity to jump start a real third-party onto the national scene and bring about candidates that we want rather than ones that are just out their seeking it on their own and begging us for a vote that means nothing to them in the end.

LINK:
Americans Elect 

ARTICLE:
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/group-clears-path-for-a-third-party-ticket/

SITE NOTE:
Have you checked out the new 2012 Election pages here on In Declaration…?  We have the overview page which will list the candidates and other information, and we have two sets of Primary/Caucus pages that list each primary/caucus by date.  So check them out today if you haven’t already.  All pages will be kept up to date as the 2012 election unfolds.

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3 Responses to Americans Elect

  1. Deborah Mraz says:

    Of note, to become an election judge in Jefferson County, one must DECLARE to be either a) Republican or b) Democrat one or the other, no other alternatives. I’m wondering if it’s the same in St. Louis City and St. Louis County? There’s a write-up for you!

    • James S. says:

      Exactly the point. Everything is geared toward the duocracy. And it’s one thing they work very hard to keep. After Ross Perot’s 1992 Presidential run, Congress made it even harder for a 3rd party candidate to get federal funds thus ensuring their hold on power. It’s time to start shaking things up.

    • James S. says:

      And now I have sleuthed. It’s actually state law in Missouri that all election judges must declare their political party affiliation. There can be unaffiliated election judges, but only after the requirements are met for both major parties (2 from each).

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