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Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Political Third Parties

In November, the citizens of the United States elect a new president. The current mindset, reinforced by the media, is that there are only two viable political parties, Democrats and Republicans. However, there are always several third parties added to the mix. Political third parties have made a major impact in the past.

The Liberty Party was formed in 1840 to abolish slavery. Although unsuccessful, they did exert influence leading to the abolition of slavery a couple of decades later.

The first war on drugs was against alcohol. In 1892, the Prohibition Party was formed in an attempt to eliminate alcoholic beverages from society. This policy was eventually adopted in 1920 and repealed in 1933. During prohibition, as with the current war on drugs, criminal activity skyrocketed to meet public demand.

Collectivism was a popular concept in 1900. The Socialist Party was introduced with a platform including child labor laws, unemployment compensation, a national Department of Education and a graduated income tax. Twenty-four years later, socialists created the Progressive Party seeking a takeover of large corporations and the railroads by the federal government. Eventually this coalition became supporters of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Teddy Roosevelt won nine of 12 Republican primaries in 1912 but they gave the nomination to William Taft. So Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party and ran as a third party candidate. The Democrat Woodrow Wilson won.

In 1980, conservative Ronald Reagan opposed liberal Jimmy Carter. John Anderson, a disaffected Republican, ran as an independent on fiscal conservatism and social compassion, winning 7 percent of the vote.

Ross Perot formed the Reform Party in 1992 and ran as an alternative to Bush #1 and Bill Clinton. His major issue was balancing the federal budget and opposition to free trade. He had high poll numbers early (20 percent) but soon faded after scoring high marks on the screwball-o-meter.

Third parties can make a difference. Here is a list of several alternatives to business as usual.

1) The Libertarian Party -- believe in less government and individual liberty. They want a free market economy, a voluntary retirement system, to end the war on drugs and a hands-off foreign policy.

2) The Green Party -- proclaim to be environmentalists who believe in human rights, social justice and nonviolent resistance. They dislike corporate-dominated society and actively participate in political protests.

3) The Reform Party -- main issues are balancing the budget, trade restrictions, campaign reform, lobbying reform, congressional term limits and a new "paperless" tax system.

4) The Natural Law Party -- vow to bring smart people together to resolve problems and make contingency plans to prevent future problems. They call it a common sense approach. To some it sounds a bit vague.

5) The Constitution Party -- want to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations, abolish congressional pensions and foreign aid, eliminate paper money (coins only) and phase out Social Security.

6) The American Party -- support Biblical and constitutional principles of life, liberty and property. Oppose global trade, gay rights and illegal immigration. Support school vouchers and the return of the Panama Canal.

I didn't include the Socialist Equality Party, the Socialist USA Party or the Socialist Worker's Party. If you yearn for wall-to-wall government confiscating and redistributing wealth, you can always vote for the Democrat.

I also didn't include the Anarchists who want zero government and unlimited freedom. If you yearn for wall-to-wall chaos, you can always move somewhere where there is no government, such as Neptune or Pluto.

Of course, many of these political parties won't be on most state ballots. Apparently those in power don't want the American people to have more than two alternatives -- they might do something rash, like vote for a political philosophy they actually believe in rather than going along with the herd.

Choose wisely. The future you save may be your own.