When people tell me that this is a two-party system, and that a vote for somebody besides Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is wasted, I now have to ask when is the Republican Party going to get that memo?
The latest front in the GOPs war against democracy--a war you will not find covered on right-wing libertarian sites--is to challenge in Virginia the 13,000 signatures turned in by the Green Party, the 16,000 signatures turned in by the Libertarian Party, and the 19,000 signature turned in by the Constitution Party to put (respectively), Dr. Jill Stein, Governor Gary Johnson, and Congressman Virgil Goode on the general election ballot.
Think about this from two directions:
1. This year's crop of third-party candidates (regardless of which ideology you prefer) features the most-qualified group to run outside the Demopublican system since . . . ever. Dr. Stein is a well-known physician and academic. Governor Johnson is a successful businessman and two-term governor of New Mexico. Representative Goode is a veteran Congressman. Something has to be creaking at the seams when people with this level of expertise and experience are abandoning the two-party ship.
2. With all their privileges and protections the two "major" parties have been historically able to keep all but a handful of third-party candidates off the ballots, but time and again substantial numbers of voters keep insisting on an alternative--and keep tipping the balance in elections. Bob Barr tipped North Carolina toward Barack Obama in 2008. Ralph Nader pushed Florida into the GW Bush column in 2000. Ross Perot almost singlehandedly gave Bill Clinton two terms. Third-party candidates matter.
But so does the idea of a level playing field.
When you watch the second major national convention this week, remember that Americans have been shelling out tens of millions of dollars each year of their tax money to pay for these extravaganzas. Remember that the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Constitution Party have to spend millions of dollars each year just to get on the ballot--millions of dollars that therefore are not available for campaigning. Why? Because Democrats and Republicans talk about voter suppression efforts against minorities or the military while joining together to keep third party members from having any voice.