Thursday, October 23, 2008

An illusion of choice

When trying to get little kids to do something a handy trick is to give them a choice about what to do, with both options resulting in the desired result. For example if you want to get your tyke to go to bed instead of asking him if he wants to go to bed, present him with the options to either get a piggy back ride to bed or to pretend like he is a spy and sneak into bed. No matter what the choice is the parent wins, because the desired result is accomplished, and the kid is happy because he got to make a choice.

That is what is going on with the United States political system.

It is sufficient to say that the big wigs in the political parties are very happy with their position in the current political system. Sure the GOP would like to see more republicans get elected, but if it doesn't work out in one election eventually things will return their way down the road.

Now, the Republicans and Democrats obviously want to stay in power, and the problem is that they have been in power for so long that they have been able to reshape the political system so that they will always stay in power. This idea of the absolute dominance of the two political parties has been tugging at my brain for a bit during this political season, but I was confronted with the problem head on yesterday.

You see this is the first time that I will be voting in a state other than Kansas. And down here in Oklahoma things are dome a bit differently, namely there is almost a complete absence of third party candidates on the ballot. I have two valid choices for president: McCain or Obama. That is it. No write in votes are allowed, no third party candidates onto the ticket. (Due to new laws in Oklahoma.)

So, for almost all my elected officials I must chose either between a Republican or a Democrat. But this problem is just limited to the great state of Ok. There are many rules and regulations that are made that are purposely put in place to keep all other parties from gaining a foothold in the political system. It's not that surprising, but when Republican and Democrat officials make rules about what parties can realistically run for president they basically said that only big parties can run, and what makes a big party? Well if your party is one of the ones making the rules.

So why doesn't this cause problems in America? Why isn't there an outcry about the fallacy of choice that we have? Because we do get a choice. Just like a parent herding the child to bed, we are given a choice either result is a win for a parent. Do we want Generic Republican Candidate A or Generic Democrat Candidate B? Since we are given this choice most people don't realize that there are more candidates out there, and some of them have actual ideas that aren't the same as the Democrat/Republican Party. The focus on "one or the other" has made us blind to choosing the one that is right.

So where does that leave us? Well, we know that only the Republicans and Democrats can play the game as it is now. And we need to get the laws changed, so it would be nice to get some third party candidates into office so that they can change the laws, but that is a bit Catch-22 don't you think? So here is an option that has a chance to work; destroy one of the current parties. If one of the parties can rip itself apart, it would cause, by default, a three party system. And when we open a debate to three parties it is much easier to get other ones in as well.

So how can you help? Well the best option always would be to always vote for third party candidates whenever it is possible if you feel that they are a better choice. They may not win now, but it will give them momentum to become bigger for the next time around.

What about situations where there is not choice like in Oklahoma? In these cases we need to try to push the stress in political parties to edge them closer to breaking their monopoly on the political system. For this election this means that, and I HATE to say it, the Republicans need to lose, badly. If Obama can win the election by a huge margin then maybe the party will buckle and split into a Freedom Loving - Small Government Party and the rest remain as the Domestic Surveillance - Big Business Rights Before People's Rights Party.

The split probably won't happen, but any crack in the status quo in Washington will help the parties that want actual change come to the surface. And once a third party is available to choose more parties will emerge. And if the kid asks if option C is OK instead of A or B, then the kid will start to think about what other options are possible as well. That is when we can start to put the government into its correct place. That is: It serves us, instead of it herding us into the direction that it wants.

People argue that voting third party is a wasted vote. I believe that voting Republican or Democrat is more of a waste.


Braveharte said...

Minnesota likes third party candidates. One of the most loved senators was Green party (Paul Wellstone). Jesse Ventura won the governorship as an independent. I think every crazy party is going to be on the ticket here... Did you know there was a prohibition party guy running for president? I personally like the green party, but I do like Obama this year. He's not perfect, but he goes for a lot of my own personal beliefs.

Ookami Snow said...

From what I heard I liked Jesse Ventura.

I always think that having more choices is better.