This is the second of a two-part series at the Atlasphere covering perspectives on the 2004 presidential election. The first article in this series is "The Case for Bush" by John Hospers.
The Atlasphere does not endorse any political candidate. We were unable to find an author for "The Case for Kerry" to include in this series, but member Eric Nolte provides some suggested readings on the topic.
Let’s stop and re-think what we are doing when we vote for President. We are providing information to the political system on the values and the leader we want to direct the country for the next four years. We know that our vote by itself will not elect anyone to the Presidency. Our vote plus the vote of all admirers of Ayn Rand will not elect anyone to that office. Does that mean our vote is wasted?
The irony is that our vote will not elect anyone, but failure to vote ensures that the political class will ignore our views. In fact, one of the most brilliant, if often misunderstood, legacies of our Founding Fathers was the indirect voting scheme for President that allowed many people to run for office, but ensured that a selection would be made.
Most of us are products of the governmental schools where we learned the advantages, but not the disadvantages, of the two-party system. Political parties are not even mentioned in our Constitution and, in fact, George Washington warned about the dangers of political parties in his farewell speech.
During the communist period in Russia, citizens were required to vote and there was only one party listed on the ballot. Most Americans realized how pathetic this was, without contemplating that having two parties on the ballot — which in many cases amount to voting for tweeldum or tweeldummer — is not that much better.
There is no legal requirement to vote for the two old parties. Why vote for someone that does not represent your views or values? Why be hooked on the two party duopoly? Just say “no.” It makes no sense for a thinking person to limit their choices to bad alternatives.
One consequence of the ingrained habit of artificially limiting our choices to the two old parties has been the increase in negative campaigning. Once we have three or four choices on the ballot, negative campaigning should diminish because trashing an opponent will not guarantee a gain of “anti” votes.
Today in Russia, freed from communism, there is now a standard option on the ballot: “none of the above” or more literally “against all.” We still lack this basic reform in America that would prevent a victorious politician from claiming a mandate when there may be none.
So how should one approach voting for President? Do not be caught up in the manipulated hysteria of voting against candidate X. Select the candidate who represents your fundamental values and philosophy of government.
This is the only way to change the system in a positive direction. Voting for the lesser of two evils guarantees that an evil politician is elected and that the system will not improve.
If you are tempted to vote for one of the duopoly candidates, think about the parallels to professional wrestling. Perhaps that will break the spell. Remember if this was a horse race, you would get paid for picking a winner, but you don’t. You often regret voting for a duopoly candidate.
If George Bush or John Kerry represents your basic values, vote for them. Name a child after them. But don’t waste your vote voting against one of them. Many who voted against Gore now regret their vote for Bush. Many who vote against Bush in 2004 will be embarrassed to have voted for Kerry.
Consider another choice for President. The largest third party in America is the Libertarian Party and it has about 600 of its members in office. The LP’s presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik, will be on the ballots in forty-eight states and the District of Columbia — more than any other third-party candidate.
Who is Michael Badnarik? He is a Constitutional scholar and a computer geek. He was the dark horse candidate at the Libertarian Party convention in Atlanta who beat two well-funded, well-organized and well-spoken opponents. Delegates were impressed with Michael’s sincerity, his depth of knowledge and his ability to answer questions based on clear principles.
You owe it to yourself to go to www.lp.org and to read the Libertarian Party platform and other current articles. Then check out www.badnarik.org to learn more about Mr. Badnarik and his views. If you see that his positions and his reasoning are closer to your values that either of the duopoly candidates, then do the straightforward and sensible thing: vote for him.
If Mr. Badnarik received five percent of the vote, would it matter whether Bush or Kerry was elected? The answer is no because the whole political establishment would be shaken to its foundations. The decisions of the president would be influenced by that pro-liberty five percent. Media attention would be directed toward limited government solutions. It might be the beginning of a virtuous cycle.
The votes for Michael Badnarik measure how many adults in the United States value limited government and respect for individual rights more than all of the hoopla and manipulation. This is a number that professional politicians watch carefully. The Libertarian Party is our yardstick measuring success in the battle for political liberty.
I have already voted absentee for Michael Badnarik. It is the ninth time I have voted for the Libertarian Party Presidential candidate. It feels good to vote for a gentleman and a scholar who is fighting for our values. Michael Badnarik deserves our support.
Don Parrish earned his M.S. in computer science and worked as a technical manager at Bell Labs in their International Switching division before retiring. He is also the author of Russia from 1969 to 2003: a Transformation, published at the Atlasphere. Don resides in Downers Grove, Illinois.