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SOCIAL: The Case for Third Parties

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posted on Oct, 4 2004 @ 09:58 PM
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Third Parties play a role in our nation that is often overlooked. They force the major parties to change their policies or else lose supporters. They get ideas to the people that normally would not be on the forefront. All in all, third parties in American politics have been much more then a spoiler or a wasted vote.
 

What voting third party does for you (and the party you‘re supporting):

1. In several states ballot access is based on vote totals. The easier it is do get on the ballot the more resources can be allocated to getting your message out.

2. Large vote totals will garner media attention making your party visible to the mainstream public.

3. If you vote for a candidate because he’s the lesser of evils he won’t view your vote that way. If you don’t support someone’s agenda, don’t inflate their vote total - it will give their views undue credibility.

4. Much like point number three, if you vote for a candidate it won’t strike him that he should change. It will appear he’s doing a good job.

5. Third-parties have clear cut goals and platforms. If the third parties get their vote totals high enough the major parties will adapt to that to garner your support. For example, you’re a libertarian but you vote Republican because you think a Republican is less likely to increase the size and power of government then a Democrat. The fact that this is untrue aside, the perceived support will do nothing for the Republican Party to change the way they go about things.

6. Your conscience is a powerful thing. Don’t do something you’ll regret for four years.

Historical Third Party Candidates

Martin Van Buren - Free Soil Party 1848

What was accomplished: “In August 1848 at Buffalo, New York, a meeting of anti-slavery members of the Whig Party and the Liberty Party established the Free-Soil Party. The new party opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories. The main slogan of the party was "free soil, free speech, free labour, and free men". In the 1848 presidential election, Martin Van Buren, the party's candidate, polled 10 per cent of the vote. He split the traditional Democratic support and enabled the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor, to win. By 1852 the Free-Soil Party had 12 congressmen but in presidential election, John P. Hale won over 5 per cent of the vote. Two years later, remaining members joined the Republican Party.”

The Greenback Party - 1876-1880

What was accomplished: “The Greenback party (also called the National Greenback party) was organized in 1876 to campaign for expansion of the supply of paper money—"greenbacks"—first issued by the federal government in 1862 to help pay for the Civil War. The idea that maintaining a flexible supply of paper money served the interests of working people, whereas paper money backed by specie (hard money, like gold or silver) benefited only the rich, had been advanced by Edward Kellogg as early as 1841. In the 1860s, Alexander Campbell popularized Kellogg's ideas, but greenbackism did not develop a significant following until the panic of 1873, when low prices and tight credit gave Campbell's writings new appeal, especially to farmers. Many people, however, passionately opposed greenbackism, arguing that an inflated supply of paper money was immoral. In addition, of course, creditors as a group stood to lose from inflation, since debts could be repaid with less valuable dollars than those originally borrowed.
Greenbackers had tried unsuccessfully to prevent passage of the 1875 Specie Resumption Act, the law that put the nation back on hard money; in 1876 they formed a political party to demand that the law be repealed and that more paper money be issued. The Greenback party won only 80,000 votes in its first year, but its strength increased as the labor troubles of 1877 left more and more workers prepared to blame hard times on the manipulations of business leaders and bankers. In the congressional elections of 1878, the newly formed Greenback party polled nearly a million votes, sending fourteen Greenbackers to Congress and electing many to local office. As prosperity returned in the late 1880s, however, and as it became clear that the Specie Resumption Act would not be repealed, greenbackism lost its following; the party mounted its last national campaign in 1884. Still, the Greenbackers' emphasis on the political implications of monetary policy left its mark on future reform programs like populism; indeed, in 1892 the Populists chose as their presidential candidate James B. Weaver of Iowa, one of the Greenback congressmen of 1878.”

Eugene V. Debs - The Socialist Party 1900-12, 1920

What was accomplished: “During these campaigns the Socialist Party put a number of issues on the national agenda and advanced perhaps by decades the legislation which achieved a number of objectives for working class America. The list includes giving women the right to vote. (Large numbers of Debs supporters were women) It includes legislation restricting child labor, and protecting workers’ rights to join unions and when necessary to strike. It would also include workplace safety, on the railroads and in the mines and factories.”

Theodore Roosevelt - Progressive (Bull Moose Party) 1912

What was accomplished: “U.S. dissident political faction that nominated former president Theodore Roosevelt for the presidency in 1912; the formal name and general objectives of the party were revived 12 years later. Opposing the entrenched conservatism of the regular Republican Party, which was controlled by Pres. William Howard Taft, a National Republican Progressive League was organized in 1911 by Sen. Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin. The group became the Progressive Party the following year and ran Theodore Roosevelt for president; it called for revision of the political nominating machinery and an aggressive program of social legislation. The party's popular nickname of Bull Moose was derived from the characteristics of strength and vigour often used by Roosevelt to describe himself. The Bull Moose ticket polled some 25 percent of the popular vote. Thus split, the Republicans lost the election to the Democrats under Woodrow Wilson.”

John Anderson - National Unity Party 1980

What was accomplished: “Anderson's success in the 1980 campaign and his profound affect on American politics are more evident today, 20 years after the fact, than they were on election day. His centrist platform was a sign of American politics' future, his battles access to presidential debates set precedent and foreshadowed the difficulties that many third party candidates would face in elections to come, and many of his policies were either successfully adopted or ignored at the president's peril. Anderson won repeated congressional elections as a Republican, and, in 1980, he campaigned against Ronald Reagan and others for the Republican presidential nomination. In the primaries, Anderson campaigned as a centrist against Reagan's conservativism, which emphasized decentralized government, a hands-off economic policy, and a return to "traditional" cultural values. Reagan trounced Anderson, who withdrew from the race. But he was back before too long, this time campaigning as a National Unity candidate. Anderson felt that neither party, nor its candidates, represented American ideals: the Republicans were too socially conservative and intolerant, he said, and the Democrats' tax-and-spend, social welfare agenda seemed to ignore economic realities. The ongoing oil crisis, which had manifested itself in terms of long gas lines and rampant inflation, was a serious problem, and Carter's only response was to blame the public's "crisis of confidence." And Anderson feared that Reagan's hawkish defense attitudes and social conservatism were bad for America. In that context, Anderson carefully crafted a platform which emphasized his centrist ideology and straight-forward, honest demeanor. He consistently reinforced his image as the "man in the middle," with liberal social and foreign policies and conservative economics.“

H. Ross Perot - Independent 1992

What was accomplished: “Perot was not a fan of President George H. W. Bush and vigorously opposed the United State's involvement in the 1990-1991 Gulf War. He urged Senators to vote against the war resolution and began considering a Presidential run. On Februarty 20, 1992, he announced his intention to run if his supporters could get his name on the ballot in all 50 states. With such declared policies as balancing the federal budget and enacting e-democracy via "electronic town halls," he became a viable candidate and soon polled even with the major party candidates. He campaigned in 16 states and spent an estimated $65.4 million of his own money. He was allowed to debate with Bush and Clinton in three nationally televised debates. In the 1992 election, he received 19% of the popular vote (but no electoral votes), making him the most successful third-party presidential candidate since Theodore Roosevelt. Some analysts believe that Perot acted as a spoiler in the election, drawing votes away from Bush and allowing Clinton to win many states with less than a majority of votes. “

As you can see Throughout the course of our nation third parties have played a great role in forming public opinions and getting things done.


[edit on (10/4/0404 by PistolPete]



 
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