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November 1998
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Marin County, California, October 29, 1998

It's time for a third party Robert Roth says this is necessary for the nation's progress

By Beth Ashley
IJ senior features writer

POLITICS IS NOT an easy sell these days: The mess in Washington has left much of the electorate disillusioned.

Young people are turned off. Fewer adults are voting. Scandals, campaign finance excesses and partisan infighting have destroyed the ideal of politics as an arena for social change and public service.

Former Marin resident Robert Roth thinks he has a solution: Open the process to other voices, other political parties.

In his book, "A Reason to Vote," Roth lists dozens of issues that cry out for attention, but have gotten lost amid the power ploys and rhetoric of establishment politics.

To make progress, he says, America needs to hear from its "third parties"--till now largely ignored by the public, excluded from the media and kept off the ballot by a list of qualifying requirements that would discourage all but the very rich or incredibly patient.

"Who gave the Republicans and Democrats the authority to change the laws and basically relegate all third parties to the nether reaches of the political arena?" Roth asks. "You won't find it in the Constitution because it's not there. The answer is not a mystery: No one gave them the authority. The Republicans and Democrats just took it."

Says Roth: The problem with American politics today is that "no new ideas can find their way into the national debate, no new party can make a dent in the political process."

"America would have been a different country if today's laws had been in place 140 years ago."

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