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mdevour
10-12-2004, 01:23 PM
Hello,

I don't want to get between the Bush bashers and the Kerry knockers. Each side has plenty of good (and some lousy) reasons for their opinions.

I'd like us to consider the way the world is going to be for our kids and grandkids, though.

As long as any of us have been alive, the U.S. has been dominated by two political parties. These parties, despite shrill debate, agree far more than they disagree. Together they have created government that is more intrusive, expensive, and powerful than any in the history of mankind.

I'm sure some of you approve of the situation. Therefore I ask your indulgence as I speak to the rest. ;)

I would like to someday see our government returned to a semblance of its original limits, if only so my children can live without their business or private lives being interfered with. To that end I have this suggestion:

If you live in a "battleground" state, vote your preference in the normal fashion. You wouldn't really want that other guy to get in now, would you? :D

But what about the rest of you? Is your state locked firmly in the Bush or Kerry column? Has your preferred candidate written you off as a lost cause, and for good reason?

With the winner-take-all electoral college system, if the race is not even close, your vote doesn't count at all.

So why waste it? Why throw your vote away on a sure loser when you can make it carry an important message instead?

And what message am I talking about? How about this: I'm sick of unsolved problems. I'm tired of corruption and lies. I want change for the better. I want genuine progress!

And how to send this message? Spend your otherwise wasted vote carefully, on the minor party or independant candidate of your choice.

There are plenty to choose from. I'm sure you'll find one you can live with!

With these candidates generally polling 3% or less combined, there is nothing to motivate our "leaders" to change their ways. But what if we started seeing 5 or 10 percent of the vote going to alternative candidates in those states where the major parties are surest of themselves?

Not only would it scare the heck out of them, it would encourage the disenfranchised, giving them hope again that things finally might be changing. Some of them might even start voting again.

Do you realize that, counting all those who don't register or vote, only 20 to 25 percent of the population will actually choose our next president?

I think it's time we loosen the stranglehold the dominant parties have on our political future. In my opinion, their performance does not deserve my unquestioning loyalty. I want the alternatives to grow. I'd like to leave my grandchildren with more options, and more hope, than I have. smile.gif

This is one way to make that happen.

Peace,

Mike D.

MJC
10-12-2004, 01:36 PM
How about just voting for gridlock?

It seems to me that if either party gets enough power then things happen that I don't like.

Alan D. Hyde
10-12-2004, 01:50 PM
The Libertarian vote has been growing.

Libertarian influence will continue to grow.

Many disaffected Democrats and Republicans sympathize with libertarian positions on issues: many more than those few who VOTE libertarian.

Alan

MJC
10-12-2004, 01:55 PM
I was going to suggest a website called selectsmart.com, but it appears to be down.

The site was described on NPR this morning, so it might be /.ed or something.

The site asks you questions and lets you find the third party candidate you most nearly agree with.

Keith Wilson
10-12-2004, 01:58 PM
government that is more intrusive, expensive, and powerful than any in the history of mankind. Oh, give me a break. :rolleyes: Expensive, perhaps, but more intrusive and powerful than any in the history of mankind?? Louis XIV, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, wherever they are, are probably all laughing uncontrollably right about now.

However, I have a lot of sympathy with your objection to the winner-take-all structure of presidential elections. I don't much like the fact that in my case, a vote for a third party would actually be a vote for a candidate I really don't want to get elected.

[ 10-12-2004, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]

mdevour
10-12-2004, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by Keith Wilson:
Oh, give me a break. :rolleyes: Expensive, perhaps, but more intrusive and powerful than any in the history of mankind?? Louis XIV, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, wherever they are, are probably all laughing uncontrollably right about now.
Well I'm glad we agree on the expensive part, at least! tongue.gif

Powerful? Think of the scale of our armed forces and economic reach. Think "only remaining superpower," or 600 pound gorilla, if you prefer.

Of course we're losing ground as fast as we spend ourselves into oblivion. And our pre-eminence will disappear about the time the Chinese start achieving their economic potential. They'll be bigger than we are soon enough!

What I mean by intrusive has more to do with the growing potential for surveillance, for one thing, as well as the breadth of regulatory meddling in the smallest details of our lives. There's not much left that you can do that isn't affected by *some* regulation or other.

I'm not claiming that this government is despotic or tyrannical, yet, though I'm sure there are many individuals sitting in a clean, quiet jail cell who might have cause to disagree. I'm saying that the potential is growing and the checks on governmental authority are weakening day by day.

Be well,

Mike D.

Chris Stewart
10-12-2004, 02:40 PM
If minor parties become significant an already messy process gets messier. In the last election, Nader voters, generally liberal, cost Gore the presidency and resulted in the election of a conservative president.

If a third party candidate won enough states (one state would do in a close enough election) neither of the major candidates would get a majority in the electoral college. The president would be chosen by the House (one vote per state delegation) and the vice president would be chosen by the Senate (again, one vote per state). It is not at all out of the question that the resulting president and vice president could be from different parties.

Somehow, I don't think that is what you had in mind, and I don't think it would do anything to make statesmen out of politicians.

[ 10-12-2004, 03:40 PM: Message edited by: Chris Stewart ]

George.
10-12-2004, 04:01 PM
Originally posted by M. G. Devour:
government that is more intrusive, expensive, and powerful than any in the history of mankind.

Powerful, maybe. intrusive and expensive, our govm't beats yours any day!

The problem with multiple parties is simple. The Left, too intellectual for its own good, always ends up divided over the details. The Right has more of a herd mentality, and tends to rally round the apparent leader. That's how you get your Hitlers and Chiracs.

mdevour
10-12-2004, 06:02 PM
Milo writes:
How about just voting for gridlock?

It seems to me that if either party gets enough power then things happen that I don't like.We've had a pretty good demonstration of that here in Michigan, haven't we?

Voters split their ballots in droves and elected a female Democrat governor, yet saddled her with a government dominated by Republicans in the legislature and every other state level post.

I haven't seen such a well behaved government in a while! :D

Still, don't expect anything to change for the better in these circumstances. At best there'll be a holding action.

If we want any real progress, there needs to be some movement in the fundamental expectations of the electorate. We have to make demands and show that we mean it.

Be well,

Mike D.

mdevour
10-13-2004, 10:15 AM
Originally posted by Chris Stewart:
If minor parties become significant an already messy process gets messier. In the last election, Nader voters, generally liberal, cost Gore the presidency and resulted in the election of a conservative president.And in '92 Perot might have taken a few more votes from Bush Sr. than Clinton, though we know he brought out a lot of non-voters and drew significantly from both of the dominant parties.

My own observation is this: When alternative parties start affecting election outcomes two things usually happen -- the other candidates are forced to address issues and take positions they would rather avoid, improving the overall quality of the debate; afterwards they get together and change the rules to make it even harder for "outsiders" to have any impact. :rolleyes:


If a third party candidate won enough states ... neither of the major candidates would get a majority in the electoral college. The president would be chosen by the House ... and the vice president would be chosen by the Senate ... Somehow, I don't think that is what you had in mind ...Yes, back in the early days of the Republic there were a few elections that were complicated by a profusion of candidates.

First, may I suggest that we're a long way from having to worry about that, as the entrenched parties are so well defended now that anyone else actually winning a state -- or even a single electoral vote -- is ... unlikely in the extreme?

Also consider, again referring to the '92 election cycle, that there was no problem selecting a president despite the fact that the winner only received 43% of the popular vote (Perot getting somewhere around 19%, if I recall correctly). Sure it wasn't what we're used to, but no crisis ensued.

Are these risks worth taking for the near and long term benefits of opening up the process just a tiny bit? I think so.


... and I don't think it would do anything to make statesmen out of politicians.This is a profound remark, Chris. Thank you.

Where are the statesmen of our generation? Managing their businesses and careers, building wooden boats, and looking after the needs of their families. It's not that they don't exist. Rather, like most of us, they see no hope of improving their lives through politics.

As it is now, there is no one to hold the dominant party candidates accountable for their continued failures. We are forced to either sit out the contest or choose between unacceptable options:

</font> that want to dominate our private lives... </font> that want to dominate our economic lives... </font> who will lie, cheat or steal in order to win.</font>There is no one on this list that represents me. I think I deserve to have a chance to vote for someone who does, with the expectation they will have a fair chance to present their views to my fellow citizens. That's not the case now.

I think it's a good idea to vote for alternative candidates when your guy is clearly losing your state. It costs nothing while forcing future candidates to aspire to higher standards.

I believe we owe it to our children to make things better if we can. This is one small way.

Peace,

Mike D.

Alan D. Hyde
10-13-2004, 10:40 AM
There is profound and endemic corruption in our big governments, and in some of our big businesses. If you don't see it, then you're not looking.

It is partly the inherent result of bigness, and distance from the people for whom it is allegedly working. No closeness, no smallness, no transparency, no sunlight of public scrutiny, which is the best disinfectant. It is also partly the result of the character of the people who now comprise our large institutions.

As Tennessee Williams has the player of a certain role say:

Mendacity!!! Oh, the mendacity...

Indeed.

Alan

Billy Bones
10-13-2004, 10:56 AM
You can help contain the size of government by simply not taking part in government programs. We're still at the stage where you can avoid letting the devil in the door. Barely.


Originally posted by George.:


The problem with multiple parties is simple. The Left, too intellectual for its own good, always ends up divided over the details. The Right has more of a herd mentality, and tends to rally round the apparent leader. That's how you get your Hitlers and Chiracs.I think you have those backwards, George. Republicans like to read, Democrats like to shout, remember? Hitler was a liberal.

Alan D. Hyde
10-13-2004, 11:11 AM
Well said, Billy.

I might add that those favoring individual rights and responsibilities lie at one end of the true political spectrum, with totalitarians at the other.

The so-called "left" and "right" (communism and fascism) are different flavors of the same poison. Use of such terminology obscures more than illuminates our thinking.

Alan

George.
10-13-2004, 11:54 AM
Are you two arguing that Hitler was not right wing? Or that the Left does not tend to end up divided in multi-party elections? :confused:

In my understanding, left tends towards socialism and social engineering, right tends towards unregulated capitalism and individualism. Both are awful when taken to extremes, and neither effectively addresses all the issues most people want their government to address. Totalitarian dictatorships are a perversion of government, whether they be right- or left-leaning.

Alan D. Hyde
10-13-2004, 01:54 PM
George, words have no intrinsic meaning; what they signify is a matter of usage and common cultural agreement. The more standardized our usage is (AOTBE), the more predictably and precisely we can communicate.

In discussing usages such as in my post above, our only good recourse is to consider terminology based on its utility: its ability to add lucidity and understanding to a dialogue rather than the opposite.

Hitler's gauleiters and Stalin's commissars ruled the totality of their victims' lives, the "rights" of the state* trumped any individual rights that were acknowledged (and few, if any, were).

In contrast, the founders of the United States recognized that ALL men (as individuals) were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these were the rights to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness (secure private ownership and control of property, so as to protect individuals' material goods from arbitrary or unfair confiscation: the place of the word "happiness" was taken by the word "property" in Jefferson's original draft).

Men are so often mistaken about so many things that matter, that it is foolish to place too much authority over others in any person or structure. We must each follow our own lights, and choose our own paths, uphill though they be. Though our tracks all lead eventually to the grave, they may lead to other places as well.

Alan

*Governments are established BY THE FREE CONSENT of the people by whom they are established, and FOR THE CONVENIENCE of these same people. Whenever governments lose the people's consent, or cease to serve the people's convenience, they may be altered or abolished as the people see fit.

Individuals have unalienable rights, but governments per se have no rights: they exist only to establish and uphold the rights of their citizens.

George.
10-13-2004, 02:46 PM
Alan, I mostly agree with you, but if we take your semantics literally, than ALL dictatorships are by definition "left wing," and an extreme right-wing government would in effect be not a dictatorship, but an anarchy - all individual and no state.

Also, restrictions on abortion and any state support for religion would be left wing, while strict state agnosticism and complete freedom, including of drug use and "choice", would be right wing positions.

Works for me, but I don't think that is what most people mean when they say right and left...

Alan D. Hyde
10-13-2004, 02:52 PM
George, I don't use "left" or "right."

At all.

They're simply not accurate or helpful. When's the last time you heard a scientist talk about phlogiston?

Alan

[ 10-13-2004, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

mdevour
10-13-2004, 03:44 PM
Let's stipulate some things before we descend into the mire of semantics...

The meaning of the terms left and right, liberal and conservative, are inconsistent in both time and place. For example, the U.S.'s founders are often spoken of nowadays as being "classical liberals" while many modern "conservatives" view themselves as the preservers of that legacy. For another, I remember discussing this point with a fellow from another culture for whom the right/left distinction was exactly opposite of its typical use here in the U.S.

So let's not assume anybody else in the discussion will define these labels in the way we think they should.

This link (http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html) will take you to the Advocates for Self Government page which presents you with a small quiz about your feelings on major social and economic issues. You might want to take the quiz and see where it puts you.

This isn't by any means the only model for the political spectrum (or spectra if you want to define multiple axes) but it is a good one. It is based on a two-fold axis of economic and social freedoms that encompasses variations from totalitarianism to anarchy.

It's difficult to assign the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, or Mao to right or left, per se, as they all cluster so closely in practice to the ideal of total state domination of all things.

If you define the Right to favor economic freedom and the Left personal freedom, then maybe Italian Fascism was more right wing, in that it allowed some autonomy to capitalists and exalted a class-based system.

Marxism, on the other hand, emphasizes a classless society and collective ownership of all economic assets, which lends it a Left-ish bias.

I would have to examine economic and social policy during Hitler's regime more closely to tell you where it might fall on this particular version of the left-right spectrum. I've just never thought about that question in detail...

But when reality has taken over, the state is all powerful, and nobody has any freedom left, it makes little difference if it's a leftist or right wing tyrant on the throne, don't you think?

The whole point of government ought to be protecting the rights of minorities -- specifically the smallest minority of all, the individual person. You, me.

I'd prefer more freedom rather than less. I'm inclined towards having both social diversity and economic freedom. Unfortunately, with the current party structure here in the U.S., I don't have that option.

I want the smallest possible government, and no smaller. ;) Of course, only bigger government is being offered. :(

That's why I'd like to see a little more variety on the menu.

Be well,

Mike D.

imported_Dutch
10-13-2004, 03:56 PM
secure private ownership and control of property, so as to protect individuals' material goods from arbitrary or unfair confiscation try to do something which a local zoning board doesnt agree with, ditch a wet field and youll see you really dont own your property. try to not pay rent to your local government for a couple of years and see what happens.

be unlucky enough to own property who someone else with political pull wants bad enough, though you refuse to sell.

our government is getting more and more intrusive. if you dont see that something is wrong with you

mdevour
10-14-2004, 05:54 AM
Originally posted by Alan D. Hyde:
Men are so often mistaken about so many things that matter, that it is foolish to place too much authority over others in any person or structure. We must each follow our own lights, and choose our own paths, uphill though they be. Though our tracks all lead eventually to the grave, they may lead to other places as well.
Amen, Alan. Amen! :cool: