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Monday

Another way to waste your vote

I was reading the political platform of one of the fringe candidates the other day, which is one of the more disheartening ways to get sidetracked when thinking about politics in our two-party system. Although it doesn't get taught in schools anymore (if it ever was), we all learned in the past three presidential elections that third party candidates like Perot and Nader have the opposite effect in a two-party system as they do in a parliamentary system: instead of taking part in a coalition, the outsider candidates act as spoilers. In another system, Perot in 1992 would've loaned his share of the vote to the republicans, and tried to force the Bush sr. government in the direction of his "pro-American" policies, whatever they might have turned out exactly to be (certainly he would've tried to prevent NAFTA). Well then, what is the function of third party candidates in the U.S.?

The standard response such as this is that third party platforms are like experimental labs of kooky ideas - such as the vote for women - which occasionally prove hitworthy, so they can be stolen by the duopoly and incorporated into the system. Leaving aside for the moment our passing observation that the political system insures a duopoly, which is marketplace poison because corrupt collusion between them would almost immediately set in, it's worth noting that third parties often run extremely odd looking candidates, even ugly or sinister ones. They do this because their true function is villainous...

Which is odd because whatever your political beliefs, you have to respect the fringes who refuse to compromise on their pet issues. For example, I am a fairly left-leaning voter, so I have a lot of respect for this particular anti-war kook's platform I was reading about:

  1. End unconditional U.S. support for Israel, which the rest of the world condemns, and incites terrorists to organize and act against us

  2. Gradual pullback of U.S. military bases from the hundreds of nations we are decamped in, particularly from the Arabian countries whose populace would look on our departure with approval; in order to refocus our military on defense of the homeland

  3. Withdrawal from Iraq & Afghanistan, replaced by multinational peacekeepers

  4. Re-evaluation of our support for Russia, India and China, who cloak their often vicious internal crackdowns and repression in the mantle of U.S.-sanctioned "anti-terrorism"

  5. More broadly, a less cynical style of statecraft that no longer tolerates corrupt and tyrannical governments simply for reasons of business

  6. And finally, massive increases in funding for alternative energy sources, to reduce the need for our dubious relationships with oil dictatorships



To be sure, it's not a very well-rounded platform, but then neither is the Green Party's. It's an interesting take, though, and certainly merits discussion. If you think about it, the fiascos in Iraq and on 9/11 almost demand a complete reorganization of our overarching diplomatic and military style, and if Islam is not the new communism, we might very well make it the new communism if we persist in the old style of fighting.

Of course, I had to paraphrase this so-called platform, because I've just heard about this it third-hand: I don't know any Arabic, and certainly not the strange dialect of Osama Bin Laden, whose platform it is, as elucidated in his videos.

I told you this was disheartening.
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