This election year I’m confronted with a compelling ethical choice. On the one hand, I cannot vote to re-elect President Obama because he has chosen to execute American citizens without any charges and without any trial. He has also pursued the prosecution of government whistle-blowers with inordinate zeal, creating a chilling climate for anyone who might consider bringing to light wrongs committed by our government. On the other hand, his competitive adversary, Mitt Romney offers no indication he would act more ethically and every indication he would act even more unethically, in even more areas.
Right now the United States has a two-party system. Despite any rhetoric, the differences between these two parties are negligible. Both use the collective might of the United States primarily to service financial interests, even financial interests that do not benefit the American people. That’s it.
As a minor aside, which inexplicably polarizes and paralyzes the American people, one party makes overtures to use our collective might for the immediate and tangible benefit of Americans, while the other party makes overtures to undo any power government wields over Americans. Both are perpetually unfulfilled promises. However, the ideological division it generates amongst the people insures the perpetuation of that two-party system.
I’ve never heard anyone entirely happy with their political party choice. People on both sides have considered voting for a different party that more closely represents their views. But they never do; myself included. You see, as the thinking goes, if you vote for the party you really want to, then you are throwing your vote away – effectively giving away the election to the party you hate. In other words, if you do not vote for one of the two parties, you are, in essence, voting for your opposite party.
I’ve even used that flawed logic on others, when I found out they intended to vote for a third party candidate. You’re just throwing your vote away! The other party will win because of your short-sightedness!
But I was wrong. Well, mostly wrong. I was wrong because they were not being short-sighted. They were, in fact, being rather long-sighted. They were voting their conscience and their convictions despite the two-party monopoly. They were lessening its power and grip over us all by ceasing to believe in it, and ceasing to feed it. I was also wrong because the only way to throw your vote away is by not voting.
Those people brave enough to vote for third party candidates are actually doing more with their vote than anyone voting for either a Democratic or Republican candidate. In a real sense it is one of the most profoundly revolutionary steps an American can take. And both parties know it. This is why they spend enormous sums of money and invest a considerable amount of manpower to keep third-party candidates off local ballots. It is a worthy investment of time researching what third party candidates must go through simply to survive staying on a ballot in one state.
I’m proud of those Americans brave enough and with enough fortitude to see the struggle through – to offer us all a real choice of candidates. I’m also proud of those Americans brave enough to vote with their conscience, not settling for a stick figure wrapped in glitz, spewing out platitudes like a high-priced prime time advertisement.
To be sure, any transition away from the two-party system will be a difficult one. It’s far more likely Democrats will allow their conscience to prevail than Republicans – potentially resulting in a long, desolate decline in what little remains, of humanity in government.
But perhaps not. Perhaps Republicans will take upon themselves that rebel spirit they claim to embody, like the tea-party terrorists of Boston harbor so long ago – and vote for someone they truly believe in, who is a real, honest American representative and not just some corporate/religious puppet. Stranger things have happened.
I know that I am done with the two parties now. Completely finished. Even though all other candidates are forced into silence and obscurity, I will actively hunt them down, and I will listen to them. I will get to know them; our own real people who are crazy and brave enough to stand outside in the open, saying, there is another way. I’m going to listen. And if I like them, I will vote for them. Because that’s my vote. And I am not going to throw it away.