Some time ago I wrote a preview of my
attempt at a treatise on reasons for two party dominance of American
politics. What got me thinking about it was the last presidential
We had two fairly lame major party
candidates- Romney and Obama- facing what should have been a fairly
strong contender: Former two- term Governor of New Mexico, Gary
Romney and Obama agreed on fair number
of issues, particularly an aggressive U.S. foreign policy. Not only
did Johnson oppose aggressive foreign policy, unlike the other two, he was both
fiscally conservative and socially tolerant- as are most people
in the country.
With a strong record as Governor, he
should have been right in there with the main contenders. I didn't
expect him to win, but thought he should rightfully place pretty
well- at least 5%- although I didn't really expect that, either. I
still expected stronger support than he got.
I was particularly surprised to see
some people that should be supporting him come out strongly
against him. I'd see them in the various news, blog and media forums
coming up with any excuse, not only not to support him, but to vote
for Romney or Obama instead.
I couldn't understand that. I could see
it if it was some of the other past Libertarian Party candidates like Mike Badnarik or even the late Harry Browne, neither of who had even served on a city council, but
this is a prior two- term Governor labeled by one journalist back in the day as “...the most popular governor in America”.
I started wondering why so
many people are devoted to Republicans and Democrats. What gives? I decided to write an analysis, thinking it
would be something so eye opening and hard hitting that magazines
such as Reason and Liberty would be begging to publish it.
Nope. I never got there. Not even close.
What I ended up
with was pretty simple and, if there was a problem with anyone in
regards that devotion to Reps and Dems, I suppose it is with me: I'm not
one who sees things as black and white and I rarely, if ever, (to a fault,
sometimes) follow the crowd. That's why I
had such a hard time understanding the lack of support for Gary
Basically, it comes down to two main things. To break it down:
Simplicity- People want things simple: Good vs. bad, us vs.
them, red vs. blue. Most folks, most of the time, don't pay much attention to
politics, if at all. Even those that do tend to look at it
one of the most frequent comments I read when plugging Johnson in
various forums: “Johnson's fine, but I don't want (Obama or Romney)
to win”. Or, “Voting for Johnson is just a vote for Obama”, or
Romney, depending on who is responding. It's one or the other. That's it.
Heard a gal on the radio last year. She expressed disappointment in both Romney and Obama saying, "This is the first time I'm not voting". Unlike most that chose one or the other, she just wasn't going to vote, despite having a viable third alternative. Same old story: You have two choices, either Rep or Dem.
Being part of a crowd- The natural
gravitation most people have to be around people and be in a group. Being part of a crowd makes them feel better about themselves
and more confident that they’re doing the right thing.
parties certainly have their own crowds, but the average person will
take the Rep/Dem crowd of millions over a third party crowd of thousands any day. It supports their feeling of being right. If so many others are in my crowd, I must be doing something right.
That’s the two main reasons. There’s at least a couple other aspects to why people tenaciously
fight to support the system:
Fraternalism- Being part of the crowd
comes first, then fraternalism can take over. That’s why you’ll
see fraternal Republicans and Democrats stay with their party through
thick and thin, sometimes regardless of issues. To some, issues are a
very minor consideration, if they’re considered at all. It’s
their family and they’re sticking with it.
The Ron Paul Republicans are a good example. Basically crapped on by the main Republican
establishment, and despite having serious differences on some issues
(foreign policy, for example), many not only stayed with the
Republican Party, but even voted for Mitt Romney. They’re
Republicans, first and foremost. Issues are secondary, if even that.
Pragmatism- Certainly a big player in keeping politics
limited to two parties and I'll grudgingly admit understanding the argument. Another common thing you hear when
promoting third party candidates:
“You’re just wasting your vote”.
“There’s no way he can win. “.
Sure, some might say they'd consider a
vote for a third party candidate... some other time, but not now. It's always "Maybe someday, but this time it's too important", which some might have been saying for decades.
So that's it. Nothing really
groundbreaking and I see no sign that anything is going to change despite all those polls saying how many voters would like to see a credible third party or candidate emerge. It looks like it's Reps vs. Dems for
the foreseeable future.
I'm sure some of you want to ask,
“So, Fred, gonna stop wasting your vote now and vote for someone
who has a chance to actually win?”. Nope. I'll continue voting
third party, or not at all. If a decent major candidate emerges in my lifetime I may reconsider. There's been at least one time I had my doubts about voting LP, but I wasn't sorry for voting LP after events unfolded.
You folks can go ahead and vote for someone who has a chance. Even if you win, you likely won't
be taking home any prize.