Friday, September 17, 2010

Third Parties and Run Off Election

Recently, the Libertarian Party posted an article (I failed to read it in its entirety) pointing out that polls are now showing several Libertarian candidates in Georgia getting enough votes in November to lead to runoff elections.  At first, I did not see how significant this was.

Thinking about it, however, I now see that this is a huge step for Libertarians, independents, and third parties in general.  Talking to many voters, they often acknowledge that the views of third parties (usually Green or Libertarian) are actually closer to their own political beliefs than those of either major parties.  In election cycles where this thought prevails, particularly in election cycles like the current one, where there is huge discontent with the status quo and the party in power, the opposition party usually spends time and money trying to portray third parties as stealing necessary votes from close races.

I have always maintained that it is more important to vote for the best candidate, even if it does, in fact, steal votes.  The harm done by one elected candidate in one term is nothing compared to the damage to our society and nation done by a failing two party system over a period of several centuries.  By voting for third parties, every vote is another vote of confidence, and will, eventually, contribute to either the fall of the two party system or a change in the two prominent parties.

Runoff elections, however, provide us with an opportunity for an even more concrete gain from our "wasted" third party votes.  Essentially, the prospect of a runoff election provides voters with an opportunity to vote for the best candidate without risking pushing the worst candidate into office by "wasting" votes.  For example, if Georgians are confident that there will be a runoff election, they can express support for Libertarian values and candidates in the actual election.  Although the Libertarian may not win, they will cause a runoff election.  The in-power Democratic candidate will not win the first round of the election.  Libertarians can then vote in the runoff for the "lesser of two evils" candidate.

We should take this opportunity in Georgia, and wherever else it presents itself this November, and use the elections not as a referendum on the Democratic or Republican Party, but on their two party system as a whole.  Vote for the best candidate this November, and then vote for the "lesser of two evils" in the runoff.

The added bonus of this is that by forcing a runoff election, we force the two major parties to spend even more money than they already do on this election cycle, emphasizing just how much time, effort, and money it takes to coerce votes from people who really aren't happy with either option.

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