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November 1998
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3rd Parties Weave Dreams on the Fringes

By Maria L. LaGanga Times staff writer October 20, 1998

As they race headlong toward the November election, not all of California's voters obsess about things like classroom size and crumbling campuses, teacher training and standardized tests. Not all of them sit around at home engulfed by apathy, wondering whether to cast a ballot at all.

Toiling far below the radar of traditional media, California's thousands of third-party voters--perhaps America’s most persistent practitioners of democracy--instead are working hard for candidates whose names most people have never encountered.

These voters point proudly to the ideas that floated in from the fringes of minority politics before lodging firmly in the mainstream of American thought.

The abolition of slavery, suffrage for women, the progressive income tax, an end to the Cold War, they argue, all were pushed first by people accused of "wasting their votes" on the margins of politics.

And for the most part, they do not feel like they are throwing their votes away when they bypass candidates they scorn as "Republicrats" or "Demicans" to follow their inner political voices. Even when those voices tell them to support people who rarely snare more than 4% or 5% of the vote.

"Oh, God, no," says Suzanne Reynolds, a newcomer to the Natural Law Party. "I believe that all it takes is one vote. I've found a party that stands for everything I believe in in my life, what I've been working for for the past 10 years. . . . I'm politically on fire."

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