Two weeks ago I turned in my absentee ballot for the upcoming general election. I voted for Ralph Nader, an independent candidate, for President.
When I tell someone I voted for a third party candidate, they elicit a puzzled, jeering, or even hostile reaction. “Way to throw your vote away!” “A vote for Nader is a vote for McCain.” Only one person left it at “cool.”
How can such an attitude be adopted in the USA, where we claim to bleed and breathe democracy? What kind of a “free country” do I live in when I am verbally abused for my choice in any election? People are unable to see the whole picture or relate the ideals of our country, and even their own beliefs, to a more relativistic, free, and truly choice-based electoral system. Our parents, our friends, the media, the candidates themselves, and even our teachers prop up our imprisonment to the two-party system every day, at every meal, and during every news hour whether intentionally or not. Even the question “Are you voting for McCain or Obama?” reinforces the false notion that there is only a binary choice to be made when it comes to leadership and policy in the United States.
Nader is derided by Democrats for “winning the election for Bush” in Florida. Almost all of these critics are probably intentionally unaware that all eight third-party candidates in Florida each received over 537 votes, the amount by which Bush defeated Gore in the Florida election.
So why is Nader the bad guy? It is simply because he is the easiest person to target as the most prominent third-party candidate. As true Party loyalists, those Democrats were and still are unable to put responsibility on Gore for not even winning his own home state of Tennessee. They are representative of a huge, loud swath of voters (and non-voters!) who cannot or will not escape the two-party paradigm. Because people do not understand the third party candidates, it is their propensity to fear them, and they do not give themselves a real choice when they damn their own freedom by engaging in the Orwellian “duckspeak” of their precious Party.
A more representative voting system like range voting is the major key to breaking the illiberal monopoly held on power in this country. Until such progress can be made in our systems, I call on all US Americans to vote the way their heart tells them, not according to Party lines. Meanwhile, respect your fellow citizens’ right to choose their leaders for themselves. Freedom begins with you.
Unfortunately due to word count issues I had to delete the phrase about Orwellian duckspeak.