Oct 25 2012

The insane and inane in the Third Party debate

If you ever needed an argument for why the two party system in the US is a good idea, just watch this year's Third Party debate, which took place this past Tuesday. It included the "candidates" for President from the Green, Justice, Constitutional, and Libertarian parties (Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode, and Gary Johnson, respectively).

Getting right to the heart of the matter, Rocky Anderson on the very first question states that South Africa (!) was a model of democracy, since their very first election for president had 18 candidates. This wonderfully enlightened state of affairs would in principle allow a candidate to win with 6% of the vote, which although paltry figure, would be a miracle for any of these people to garner.

But this must be the position of each of the third party candidates: if you're a major party loser, all you can do is complain about the major parties. And that's all these people are: losers and aspiring election spoilers.

Indeed, the most prominent of these candidates is Gary Johnson, erstwhile candidate for president in the Republican party, former governor of New Mexico, who went nowhere despite inclusion in the GOP primary televised debates. He wasn't sufficiently different from Ron Paul, and Ron Paul was himself not a major factor. But Paul, to his credit, didn't hold a 1 year pity party in which he toured the country pretending he was affecting an election.

Not being sufficiently different from their major party counterparts is one big part of the problem. Of the four, two were mainly Democrats and two of which were mainly Republicans. Stein and Anderson take predominantly liberal positions about climate change, money in politics, wall street, and defense. Goode and Johnson take predominantly conservative positions about budget deficits, social programs, and federalism.

And then there's the point where each goes off the rails. The necessity of a primary election to choose the most electable candidate from a group then comes into relief.

First, all these candidates want to essentially end military spending, and the United States' military role in the world. This is popular in the extremes of both major parties. Extreme liberals want to give peace a chance (to the point where even preventing genocide is not a good enough reason) and extreme conservatives are isolationists who don't give a shit what happens in the world (and don't wanna pay for it). This position is, to be mild about it, not acceptable to the country or to any right-thinking person. First of all, it would by itself collapse the economy into a massive depression by abrupt huge cuts to the economy. It fails to realize any reality about destabilizing impacts of the nuclear arms race in developing nations, the need to prevent human rights atrocities, or the need to combat piracy. No person espousing this idea could possibly be the nominee in either major party, for the very good reason that it's insane.

All of the candidates also agree that the actions taken by the government to combat terror must be immediately rescinded (FISA, Patriot Act, etc.) if they skirtĀ  normal laws of jurisprudence, and they also want to end all drone usage. But the American people are smart enough to know that when our President (a constitutional lawyer) acts outside of this, it is not a path toward totalitarianism. Not when Bush did it, not when Obama did it, and not when the next president does it. Prosecuting the law is messy, and it's silly to indicate otherwise. Ending all drone usage, a technology that has decimated the murderers in Al Qaeda at virtually no American life lost. would be stupid.

Each pair of candidates goes to the extreme of their own party's tendencies. Stein wants free college for everyone and full public financing of all elections. Anderson is angry that 30 million people will still be uncovered under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and wants all troops out of Afghanistan immediately without regard to the condition of that nation. Meanwhile, Goode and Johnson want to cut 1.3 trillion dollars from the federal budget in the first year, an act that would destroy the US economy and strike a global calamity. Goode wants to stop all immigration until the unemployment rate falls below 5%. Johnson wants a "fair" consumption tax, rather than a progressive income tax, which would pummel the poor in a way even Mitt Romney wouldn't possibly consider.

The candidates all agree that we should legalize drugs. Ok, fine, point to them.

But they also all agree that the two major parties don't have any real differences between them. And it's true, in a certain way, that two people with meaningful differences operating within the confines of reality look really similar compared to raving lunatics.

The video is embedded below. I don't recommend it.