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The Illusion of Choice

(Part 3 of "People 'Knew Their Place'")

Pop quiz!

How many different restaurants are there here in Texas? How many different flavors of soft drinks are there? This is the standard thinking of the Old Parties, and what they are trying to sell you (the voter):

  • You can drink anything you want, as long as it's Coke or Pepsi.
  • You can eat at any restaurant you want, as long as it's McDonalds or Burger King.
  • You can vote for any candidate that you want in any political race in America, as long as they are a Democrat or a Republican.

In a society that revels in its freedom to choose, why is it only in politics that we are force-fed a two-party system?

"Against the run of the mill, swimming against the stream, life in two dimensions is a mass production scheme."

The Old Parties are more alike than they are different, but you have to step away from the constant barrage of partisan vitriol to see it. To me, they seem like two rival schoolyard bully gangs taunting each other, each convinced that they "rule the school" and that everything does (or should) revolve around them. At the same time, the rest of the student body (i.e., anyone outside of their 'gang' or its sycophants, including any other school's student body) simply rolls their eyes and, wholly unimpressed, gets on with their lives.

"So much style without substance, so much stuff without style. It's hard to recognize the real thing [when it] comes along once in a while."

Libertarians, in general, have already set plans into motion to become the next major political party if (or when) the Republican Party implodes. Quite frankly, we have not been very quiet about it, but very few in the media seem to care too much. A good friend suggested to me that the Republican Party under His Orangeness seemed on the verge of imploding, and that if the Libertarians threw their support behind the Democratic Party and His Blandness, we could shake up the political process, generate the media coverage that we Libertarians very much desire, and could very likely deal the final death blow to the Republican Party. Admittedly, the media would run with such a story for weeks, and with the dissolution of the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party could be set up as the opposition to the Democratic Party.

But there's a problem with that idea that I have yet to circumvent: drinking this particular flavor of battery acid perpetuates the binary, two-party system that we have railed against since our inception.

"Against the run of the mill (static as it seems), we break the surface tension with our wild kinetic dreams."

For us, both the Democratic and Republican Parties are simply cut from the same cloth. There is nothing that either of them have that we want (except, perhaps, major party status). While we support some of the same ideas as each of the Old Parties, it's the methods that they advocate to separate themselves from each other that are, to us, quite similar in nature and not at all aligned with our primary idea of "liberty for all with malice toward none".

"Like a rare and precious metal 'neath a ton of rock, it takes some time and trouble to separate from the stock. Sometimes you have to listen to a lot of useless talk."

We understand that the Old Party system attempts to stifle any dissent to their messaging by simply being louder. As the saying goes, "money talks" and the more that you have, the louder your messaging is broadcast. Libertarians quite simply have not yet affected enough support to achieve the sort of funding that the Old Parties currently receive. But for us, and we believe that it should be this way for everyone, the race for President of the United States (or for any other office) is not about who will win or lose, but about who is qualified and who is not. It's about the integrity within the character of the candidate.

"So much poison in power the principles get left out. So much mind on the matter, the spirit gets forgotten about."

I first became involved with the Libertarian Party shortly after the turn of the century, and in that time, I have never seen any wavering in that singular belief regardless of the candidate being forwarded. Yes, we rail against the two-party system and seek to dismantle it for something that we believe allows the people - ALL of the people - to choose from a variety of candidates instead of only two, but we cannot abandon our core principle just to see one person and his party fail, which (given the current political climate) will likely happen with or without our support or condemnation. We call ourselves the "party of principle" not just because we believe in the principles of liberty, but also because we will not abandon those principles for any reason.

"Like a righteous inspiration overlooked in haste, like a teardrop in the ocean, a diamond in the waste. Some world views are spacious and some are merely space."

I do like the idea of flipping the script, however, and many of us who are running for various offices are working to do exactly that. We are reaching out to disaffected Old Party voters and simply asking them to take a look at our positions on the issues that matter most to them, to look at our qualifications for the office, and THEN make up their own minds. Personally, I have no intent to overtly denounce either of the Old Party candidates in my race; why bother? I will, instead, point out that there are differences and especially that their messaging seems to contradict the known facts.

As a statistician, I understand the odds, so I have no illusions of actually winning the seat, but that does not mean that I am playing to lose, or even playing not to win; I am definitely playing to win, far more now than I was when I started. Still, I think I'll stick with my principles just the same, because after all, it's not about winning or losing, but the integrity with which you play the game. And for me and all of the other Libertarians running for various offices, that's much more important than simply winning.


Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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