So A Third Party Vote Isn’t “Wasted?” Take A Look…It Is

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With all the turmoil over the 2016 Presidential campaign – and the choice between a duplicitous but highly qualified Hillary Clinton and a raving nutbag of racism, misogyny and xenophobia in the Tangerine Nightmare (that’s right, I don’t even begin to name him – my choice), never in the history of the United States has there been a riper time for a third party candidate to make an impact. Because the two “major parties” have been unable to nominate someone who could, you know, actually LEAD the country, someone like the Libertarian Party or the Green Party could step in and fill the void. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Let’s take the Libertarian Party first. The only other party to actually be on all 50 ballots in the U. S., the Libertarians have reached a crossroads in their existence. Long viewed as the “hippie” party because of their views on legalization of marijuana and policies that put more into personal responsibility than governmental rigor, the Libertarians are actually the only party (other than the two major parties) to actually register a notable percentage of the vote in 2012; in that Presidential election, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson garnered 1,275,951 votes across the U. S. – roughly 1% of the votes in the election (and the best ever showing by the Libertarians).

When it comes to the 2016 Presidential efforts, however, the Libertarians took a page from the GOP playbook instead of…well, being Libertarians. Johnson (who had previously run for President as a Republican in 2012 and, after losing that nomination, suddenly “saw the light” and became a Libertarian), believing that he would be easily nominated again for the party’s Presidential ambitions, instead had to fight off accusations that he wasn’t “libertarian” enough (heard that somewhere before?) and that someone who was a “true Libertarian” needed to be chosen. In the end, however, Johnson and his Vice President pick, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, earned the nomination of the party.

Turning our attention to the Green Party, they have also nominated the same candidate that they chose in the 2012 election. Dr. Jill Stein, a longtime activist with the party, was selected in 2012 and garnered absolutely no attention from anyone whatsoever. How bad was it? In that 2012 election, Stein drew in 469,628 votes, less than the population of Brevard County on the East Coast of Florida.

Fast forward to 2016 and, instead of picking someone who might be a “fresh face” for the party, the Greens picked Stein again. The choice was made despite the factor that she has been viewed by many as anti-science and has tossed her hat in the ring with 9/11 conspiracy advocates (like the Orangutan Mutant). Party officials obviously were looking for someone and, lacking anyone with even the inkling of name recognition that Dr. Stein (who also offered her nomination to former Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders if he would just switch to the Green Party) had, decided to stick with her (these things have pretty much eliminated her from contention, much like Johnson’s Aleppo mistake and, just this last weekend, his contention that “nobody got hurt” during the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the knife attack in Minnesota, dismisses him as a serious contender).

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There’s several problems with looking towards the “third party” option in this or any election, but we will only deal with a few of them here. First, voting for a “third party” option is the waste of a vote (and, as you will see, the statistics demonstrate this); second, that a solid third party has yet to form; and third, that the other parties are not following a path towards success if they are trying to infiltrate the two party system.

First, if you are considering a vote for a third party candidate this year, take a look at the numbers. Of the elected positions in national government – the President and Congress – how many of those seats are held by the Libertarian Party? The total would be zilch. What about governorships in the United States? That, too, would be zero. You have to go to the state legislatures to even find a Libertarian, and that total would be four out of 7383 seats available. In local elected offices (of which there are tens of thousands of elected positions), there are only 145 wielding power.

What about the Green Party? They don’t even register on the national or state scene, with no elected officials in any national or state government. The Green Party does register about the same numbers on the local scene as the Libertarians – an estimated 137 positions – but there’s problems for the party overall. When it comes to actually getting votes, they aren’t even on the ballot in all 50 states FOR PRESIDENT, let alone running in other races.

The second point – that no solid third party has formed in the past 30 years – takes into account those parties that “stood alone” from the two party system, of which none have been successful. The Tea Party was a subset of the Republican Party (in fact, if the Republicans didn’t want to be in the situation they are now, they should have cut the Tea Party loose from the start) and the Dixiecrats were a subset of the Democratic Party after World War II (and they were eventually cut off by the Democratic Party). Those parties that tried to stand alone – Ross Perot’s Reform Party had a nice run in the 1990s before petering out after the turn of the century and there are individuals who choose “Independent” as their party (despite the fact there isn’t a “dedicated” Independent Party) – have never been able to grasp the public’s attention for very long.

The third point – that the smaller parties are taking the wrong approach – is an easy one to correct. Instead of trying to elect one of your members to the Presidency, why not try to make inroads into the local and state realms of government. Remember those numbers presented earlier? The numbers that showed that, of all the state and federal elected positions, that only four seats would be occupied by someone that identified as Libertarian and zero by Greens? The numbers that showed that, of local governments, slightly less than 300 seats were held by someone not affiliated with either major party?

If the Libertarian or Green Party were able to actually make an impact on the local political arena – instead of 300, how about 30,000 elected officials? – then they would be able to spark the changes that they seek on the state and national scene. Even if either Johnson or Stein were elected, do you honestly think that the Congress – dominated by the two major parties – would choose to work with them? It is something that has to grow from the ground up, not from the top down.

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It is thought that pulling the lever for one of the non-mainstream candidates will be a form of “protest,” of “voting on principle,” when it will in fact be a waste of your voice. By pulling the handle for either Johnson or Stein (or any of the other candidates who may emerge on your ballot for President), you are saying that, while you don’t like either of the major party choices, you also don’t want to be involved in the process of choosing from the two most likely choices someone who WILL be the next President of the United States (and yes, it can sometimes seem like you’re getting screwed, but at least you made a choice as to who would be screwing you).

Who do you want making the key decisions, not only for our nation but also for the usage of our military men and women, for the conduct of our foreign affairs, for the security of the nation, for the efficient operation of our government and for raising up everyone instead of a select few? By voting for a third party candidate, you abdicate your ability to make the choice – the compromise that our democracy is built on – and choose the future leader of the country.

With all hope, it won’t have an effect on the outcome of the race. In 2000, the Green Party’s Ralph Nader was able to garner 2.9 million votes, with some saying that it doomed Al Gore’s hopes for the Presidency (and remember that, in Florida, Gore is reported to have lost by 527 votes despite winning the popular vote nationally). In 1992, Perot ran as an Independent (he had yet to create the Reform Party) and earned a whopping 19% of the vote, arguably denying the first George Bush a second term in office (Bush lost to Bill Clinton by roughly 5.8 million votes; Perot earned 19.7 million).

The choice may be an ugly one, but it has to be made. A petulant display of “making a point” by choosing a minor party’s candidate isn’t a protest but an abdication of responsibility. Perhaps someday these parties will have worked to the point where they can challenge the current stalwarts of politics, but that time isn’t now. Thus, we have to choose from the two candidates who represent the major political parties and, after the votes are tallied, WILL provide the 45th President of the United States.

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Coming Back from Self-Imposed Exile and…Things Are Still the Same

OrlandoClub

Yes, it’s been quite some time since I stepped to the writer’s dais here on my site. Let’s call it a self-imposed exile, one that was required due to the factor that my personal well of outrage over certain circumstances in our nation had reached its dry point. There are times that, when you’ve railed about things long enough, that you have to stop and recharge – I personally used that recharge time to reexamine some issues, some thoughts, and perhaps find some new insight that had previously eluded my vision.

Then Sunday happened…

In Orlando on Sunday morning, a man stepped into a nightclub (everyone wants to say “gay nightclub,” like it matters) armed to the teeth with an AR-15, and handgun and some other weaponry that hasn’t been disclosed. He also must have had a shitload of ammunition because, by the time the Orlando police forced their way into the club at around 5AM, there were 49 people dead, 53 more injured and untold numbers that may have been injured but were able to escape the club before it became a hostage situation and find medical attention. The shooting at Pride nightclub in Orlando took over the dark banner of the biggest mass killing in United States history.

While it should have been the utter idiocy of someone taking the lives of 50 people and injuring a similar number, what was mind-numbing was the speed of politicization of the shooting. The GOP and the National Rifle Association supporters must have hot-keyed their responses to the “next” mass shooting, because they were at the ready with the well-worn dismissals of any such occurrence: “it wasn’t the gun’s fault,” “it was (insert your barely hidden religious or racial screed here),” or, because of the fucking Orangutan Mutant that continue to fire shit out of his mouth, “the Muslims have to go!” While they did this, they didn’t have something that a normal person, being of a halfway evidentiary mindset, had:  the ability to let evidence come in to make a more informed decision.

From all apparent evidence, the shooter was a U. S. citizen, born and raised, who self-radicalized himself. According to his ex-wife and co-workers, he had anger issues that bordered on bipolar disorder. He had been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for some statements he had made to co-workers regarding other people, but the FBI found no crimes to be able to charge the shooter. Finally, his own father said that he had always been anti-gay, particularly outraged two weeks earlier because he saw two men kissing in public.

That last one is particularly important. Evidence has shown that the shooter bought the weapons he used, including an AR-15, within the last two weeks, AFTER the incident that his father reports the shooter was upset over. It is also of interest that the shooter had a profile on a gay dating site and had visited Pulse nightclub; because he was gunned down in the club, it will never be known if the shooter was ashamed of his sexual proclivities or was simply using all tools at his disposal to research his hideous crime.

But let’s get back to the politicization…

None other than the Orangutan Mutant, Drumpf himself, crowed about how “he was right.” He actually accepted CONGRATULATIONS following the attack, letting a couple hours lapse before he even put out his condolences to the families. Then the asshole went a step further, saying that only he could protect the LGBT community, despite the decades that the GOP has spent trying to deny every right to these people across the board.

Furthermore, the GOP as a whole stood up more for the NRA rather than the LGBT community that was mowed down Sunday morning. The Republicans couldn’t even bring themselves to say the acronym “LGBT,” instead just offering that maddeningly pandering “thoughts and prayers” instead of actually doing something about the issue.

Now, in the last 48 hours or so of the discussion, the usual battle lines are drawn. The GOP and conservatives state that there’s “nothing that can be done” to stop such attacks. The Democrats and liberals are once again saying that there should be more controls on weapons (and, let’s add for emphasis here, NOT LOOKING TO ABOLISH THE SECOND AMENDMENT). The extremists on the right want to follow Mr. Oompah Loompah with his ban on “any immigration from a country with terrorist activities” (news flash, asshole:  that’s virtually every other country in the world…you’re going to stop ALL immigration or just the brown people?), while the extremists on the left ARE looking for that ban on all guns.

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As usual with this situation, the answer lies in the middle.

I’m all for the Second Amendment and responsible ownership of weapons. This would entail a license for every weapon owned, no sale of weapon without a properly transferred license, medical and psychological evaluation of gun owner BEFORE obtaining said weapon, a nationwide system of checks against those who shouldn’t have weapons, having insurance on weapon should they be used in an inappropriate way…I can go on, if you like. There is a litany of regulations that could be instituted to ensure responsible gun ownership.

We do more to ensure someone can operate a 3500-pound weapon on the roads of the U. S. than we do a device that can spit hundreds of rounds per minute indiscriminately. If you reach a certain age, you have to either surrender your driver’s license or PROVE EVERY YEAR that you’re not a hazard on the roadways. If you get too many drunk driving convictions, your license can be revoked. If you have certain health issues like seizures, you’re driving privileges can be taken. You also have to have insurance on every vehicle owned, otherwise in many states you can’t even get plates for the vehicle. With guns? Little to none of this is true.

Yes, more laws are sometimes necessary. Did we have laws mandating wearing seat belts? No, but we passed them and auto deaths were reduced. Did we have laws on pasteurizing milk? No, but we passed them and made it to where contaminated milk didn’t kill you. Just saying “you can’t do it” isn’t good enough. You have to be willing to look at situations and say “You know, this isn’t right.” And if you disagree with this, I do believe that you don’t value life (or you find the children of Sandy Hook, the clubgoers of Orlando and the theatergoers in Aurora to be an “acceptable loss”), otherwise you might actually say that some controls are necessary.

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Furthermore, we are not talking the abolishment of the Second Amendment.We are talking taking a military-style weapon off the table in the AR-15. The AR-15, the weapon of choice in several mass killings, is the civilian equivalent of the military’s M-16. Its sole purpose is to fire as many rounds as possible and kill as many people as possible. With some modifications – some legal, many illegal – the weapon can fire hundreds of rounds per minute. There’s absolutely no “hunting” or “sport” involved with this weapon.

We’re not talking about handguns, shotguns, ammunition, none of that. ONE WEAPON whose sole existence is to kill, rapidly and as many targets as possible. That’s a pretty easy elimination. If we enact some common sense legislation, will it stop ALL shooting crimes? No, there’s always going to be gun-related homicides and suicides. But if we can cut the numbers down, it’s a start. And sometimes that is necessary in a civilized society.