The Public Square

Juan Alvarez on how the two major parties hide the rest of the presidential candidates


I want to point out the complete disregard that the U.S. news media and the two major parties have for democracy, for the third party and independent candidates for president, and for their supporters.

Over 45% of the voting age population in the U.S does not vote. Could this be due to the fact that they don't identify themselves with either one of the two major parties but they are unaware of the existence of the other candidates? If more than half of these people voted for one of the other candidates, he/she could win because currently the two major parties win with less than 25% of the possible votes.

I am not here to convince people to vote for third-party and independent candidates. I am here to ask you to demand that all voices be heard so that everyone can make an informed decision, whichever that may be. Demand that the media cover all six candidates. Demand that the debates include all six candidates.

Consider the recent bailout. Were there Congressional hearings with economic experts from all sides? The hearings involved only the current administration's members. Don't you think a better solution could have come from a broader discussion? Don't you think there needs to be a broader discussion of the issues in the electoral arena as well?

Naomi Klein talks about the 'shock doctrine' as a means by which capitalism uses a crisis to coerce people into supporting policies that will be in their detriment because they are in shock. The initial support for war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and the FISA law are clear examples. I think this can be extended to the Democratic party tactics which use the shock of a Republican administration to coerce the supporters of third-party and independent candidates into voting for the lesser of two evils instead of supporting candidates that would truly benefit their well-being.

Some rationalize this decision with arguments like 'things would be worse under the Republican candidate', or 'this election is too important to have the Democratic candidate loose it because votes were taken away from him by the other candidates'.

The notion of 'taking away' votes assumes that the candidate owns or is automatically entitled to these votes and hence others take them away from him. This entitlement is further supported by the fact that the two major party candidates do not campaign on all 50 states, only on the so called 'swing' states and those states where they can raise a lot of money. The votes in the remaining states are taken for granted because they feel entitled to them and will go their way no matter what.

There is a big difference between the liberal and conservative groups. Conservative groups get what they want from the Republicans, while Democrats get what they want from the liberal groups. Conservatives threatened not to vote for McCain and forced him to shift further right and even choose Palin. What did the liberals get for supporting Obama, who has even voted against their interests? They hope to get some crumbs from Obama I guess.

What do you want your vote to do for you? Support you or betray you?

Be informed and don't fall for the Democratic party's shock tactics. You've got Ralph Nader as an independent candidate, Cynthia McKinney for the Green Party, Bob Barr for the Libertarian Party, and Chuck Baldwin for the Constitution Party. Visit the candidates' websites and compare their positions on the issues.