Monday, November 28, 2005

Two Major Parties Not Representing Voters Interests

Original Chimes Article Here

As the Democratic National Convention took place this summer in Los Angeles, media analysists were quick to point out what a difficult job Al Gore had ahead of him.

Gore, the analysists claimed, must replicate the magical coalition that Clinton had put together to defeat Bush in 1992, a coalition of young people, workers, women, minorities, and environmentalists. A difficult task, say the analysists, since the interests of these groups are often contradictory and it is impossible to please all of them .

Not a chance! If these analysists had been paying attention to what has been happening on the streets this past year, they would have realized that groups have never been more united. From protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, to demonstrations against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C., students and workers, nuns and anarchists have been marching side by side in their opposition to the policies of the Democratic Party. Even as the delegates of the Democratic National Convention reclined in air-conditioning inside, young protestors were sacrificing their bodies outside of the convention hall as tear gas and rubber bullets were used to silence their first amendment rights.

Yet despite the massive public outcry, the Democratic Party has not changed its tune. Gore still supports the policies of the IMF and the WTO, despite overwhelming documentation of the destruction and loss of life these institutions have caused.

Gore still supports the globalization of corporate interests, without a corresponding globalization of labor and environmental concerns.

The Democratic Party even officially supports the death penalty, even though all evidence points to the fact that the death penalty is applied in a racist manner.

Gore, while he admittedly doesn’t have the murder record of George W. Bush, also publicly supports this form of legalized lynching while at the same time trying to paint himself as a friend to the NAACP. In the words of Jerry Rubin, “the Democratic Party has blood on its hands man.”

The American voter, however, is left with no real alternative. One of the failings of the two party system is that the Democratic and Republican Parties have only each other to compete with. This allows both of them to ignore most of the population. If a dictatorship only has one party, truly the United States is only slightly better off with two.

It is a sad state of affairs, and it seems to only be getting worse.

Sixty percent of American voters say they do not identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party, meaning the majority of Americans are not being represented in government. Is it any wonder, then, that our voting turnout is one of the lowest in the world?

And as the Republican and Democratic Party begin to look more and more alike, the voter turnout should get lower and lower. With Bush and Gore both in favor of Star Wars, the Death Penalty, and NAFTA (to quote but a few examples) it is safe to say that on important issues, Bush and Gore agree far more then they disagree.

The understandable frustration people have felt has helped to fuel Ralph Nader’s campaign. However, as Nader’s opponents are fond of pointing out, in a two party system the best thing a third party candidate can hope for is to act as a spoiler. And the Democratic and Republican parties want to make sure all other parties stay out of the spotlight.When Nader reached the 5 percent voter support necessary to be included in the televised presidential debates, the bar was raised to 15 percent. Had this qualification been implemented in years past, neither Ross Perot, nor Jesse Ventura, nor John Anderson would have qualified.

The really tragic thing is that it doesn’t have to work this way. Most other democratic countries are far more advanced then us when it comes to their electoral process. Canada, Japan, Russia and practically all of Europe make our election system look simply primitive. We could learn a lot by looking around us.

For instance, we should abolish the Electoral College and institute a percentage vote instead. This would mean that all votes for minority parties would not merely drop off into oblivion, as they do now, but work towards congressional seats, and insure all citizens are represented.

For the position of president, we should have a run off, in which there are two elections. One would be for all of the candidates; the second election would feature only the top two candidates from the previous election. This would eliminate the spoiler factor, and ensure that the most powerful position in our country can be achieved only by a majority vote.

Of course these changes are a long way off, and, with the Democrats and Republicans firmly entrenched in power, it will be an uphill battle all the way. One small step is for conscientious voters to express their disgust with the two major parties by voting for neither of them.

Voters made campaign finance reform a major issue this election, although everyone knows Gore and Bush would have liked to have completely ignored it. Similarly, we can make election reform a big issue in coming elections. Vote for the Green Party, the Socialist Party, the Reform Party, whoever. Just remember that the only way you can truly waste your vote is by sending it to Al or Dubya.

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