Philadelphia City Paper.net
October 20-27, 2000
CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE
by Stephen Simons
Disenfranchised is a word I've been hearing a lot lately. Frustration is another. I work in a bar.
In the bar, people mostly talk about movies, music, relationships or TV. Lately, though, more and more people are talking about politics. It seems to me that the reason people are so aggravated with the current political system is that it's not about what's good for the country, it's about what's good for the Republicans or Democrats. Politicians are more concerned with keeping their jobs and keeping the contributions coming in than they are with running the country. Our elections are about keeping the corporate fat cats happy and not about who has the best ideas for leading this country. The people who bend my ear when I'm working often don't even bother to vote.
The United States has one of the lowest turnout rates for elections in the free world. You already know why: Because no matter who you vote for, it's just going to be politics as usual. There's going to be another fight for control of the House and the Senate. There's going to be another scandal in the White House. And what is scandalous anyway? Obviously not drug use or sex (thank you, Mr. Clinton). Democrats vs. Republicans. Republicans vs. Democrats. Well, I've decided that I'm tired of politics as usual. I'm voting third party.
I know what you're thinking - that I'm wasting my vote. I think that voting politics as usual is wasting my vote. I think that voting for someone I don't believe in just because he's less offensive than the others is wasting my vote. If history has shown us anything, it's that third parties can effect enormous and important changes in our country. The abolition of slavery was brought about by a third party. Women receiving the right to vote? Also a third party. And how about child labor laws? Yep, a third party.
Part of the problem is that we've been misled into believing that voting outside the two-party system is pointless. I think voting for a third party makes a great point: The current state of politics in this country is abysmal and we're not going to take it anymore. That's a truly great point.
There are some wonderful ideas being espoused by presidential candidates, but we're not hearing them because third party candidates have been relegated to virtual obscurity. Do you support major campaign finance reform? Check out the Reform Party. Are you interested in social justice, decentralization and global responsibility? Try the Green Party. Would you like to truly reduce the federal government? The Libertarian Party agrees with you.
As for me, I'm voting for the Natural Law Party. They have a bevy of wonderful ideas on how to improve education, food safety, the economy and our election process. Also, they support renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. They have an excellent program to cut taxes. Plus - and this is my favorite - the Natural Law Party is for preventative medicine. They want Medicaid and health insurers to reimburse people for any scientifically proven preventive measure a person takes. Did you buy a treadmill to help reduce your high blood pressure? Well, here's your reimbursement. Wouldn't it be great if our medical community made money from keeping people healthy instead of only making money once a person is sick? The Natural Law party also has great ideas about reducing crime.
The NLP's presidential candidate is John Hagelin, Ph.D. He's a Harvard-trained quantum physicist and the author of Manual for a Perfect Government. If you are fed up with politics as usual, try reading Robert Roth's A Reason to Vote.
I implore you to check out some options outside of the Democrats and Republicans. Who knows, you might become like me, genuinely excited to vote for the first time in years.