Monday, October 29, 2007

Why doesn't Ron Paul run in another party?

Several times I have heard critics of Ron Paul suggest that he should go run in the Libertarian party or Constitution party, since he is so far out of step with the Republican party. Anyone who has ever been involved with a third party knows quite well that election laws in the United States make this impossible. The two parties have seen to this. Here's Oklahoma for an extreme example:

"On May 14, the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to hear Libertarian Political Organization v Clingman, no. 103,592. Thus ended the Libertarian Party’s most costly-ever ballot access lawsuit. The party had spent approximately $30,000 in 2004 on collecting 27,000 signatures, plus $5,000 on attorneys’ fees and court fees. The signatures had been collected in an attempt to persuade the court that the party does enjoy a modicum of voter support. No other party or candidate even tried to petition in Oklahoma in 2004.

"The case was based on a provision of the Oklahoma Constitution that says "elections shall be free and equal." The evidence seemed overwhelming that the state’s ballot access laws relating to presidential candidates at the general election violates this part of the state Constitution. Oklahoma voters in 2004 were the only voters who could not vote for president, unless they wanted to vote for President Bush or Senator John Kerry. No write-ins are allowed, and Oklahoma was the only state in which only Bush and Kerry were on the ballot.

"Oklahoma is one of only five states that doesn’t permit write-ins at the general election. Oklahoma is the only state in which all [signature/petition] procedures to get a minor party or independent presidential candidate on the ballot are greater than 2% of the last vote cast. Oklahoma is one of only four states in which the easiest presidential procedure is more than 1.33% of the last presidential vote cast (the others are North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming). ...The median requirement of the 50 states is four-tenths of 1% of the last presidential vote cast."

Source: Ballot Access News

Are these parties really all that popular? I have made a point of asking loyal Republicans and Democrats why they support their candidate. Virtually every time I hear them tell me why they oppose the other one - they really have nothing good to say about their guy. They are voting against, not for, a candidate.

The problem here is that the election process here in the USA is rigged to favor the two established parties. We hear the phrase "two-party system" as if it's a Good Thing™, when in fact it is a Bad Thing™ created for a bad reason. The two parties differ only in rhetoric - and in that regard, they differ considerably - while the difference in what their members actually do when in office, is insignificant. Yet they claim a monopoly on the ballot - all others need not apply. So we are in the habit of voting against the party we dislike the most, because we have no other real choice.

Let me point out that whether you support a "third" party or not, you know that this is not good, it's not fair, it's not American, and it is, in fact, corrupt. A common reason given for ballot access restrictions is that we need to prevent ballot crowding. Ballot "crowding" is meaningless - there is plenty of room for more than two choices on a ballot. Another reason is that we supposedly must keep "frivolous" candidates off the ballot. In the first place, we can afford frivolous candidates if necessary to ensure open elections, but let that slide. When the incumbent parties get to define who is "frivolous," you can be sure that that will include anybody who wants to take their place in office. Does anybody really think that the Libertarian, Green, or Constitution parties are truly frivolous? You may disagree with their positions, you may quickly and casually (and rightly or wrongly) label them "kooks" or worse, but I assure you that they are not at all frivolous - they genuinely want to be in office and represent a point of view. And since they aren't allowed to play in the game stolen by the "real" parties, they can only be expected to rejoice when a real alternative challenges the establishment from within their own party. We all know that the Republican party would have barred Ron Paul from the process if they could have - heck, they still want to, even if it means losing the election to Ms. Clinton in 2008. We saw organizations supposedly for lower taxes and against abortion - positions Dr. Paul is aligned with - ban him from their little debate in Iowa! Why would they do that? I'll bet you can figure that out if you think about it for a minute.

Those of us who still respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land are supporting Ron Paul. He is the only man in Congress who has consistently kept his oath of office to obey that document. And we're doing it within the system, like it or not. If you want to call us "kooks" for that, feel free - but consider how un-American you've become if you do.

If you want us to run along back to our little third parties and leave yours alone... then open the elections to all serious parties. Free and open elections, like they have in much of the rest of the world.

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