Friday, March 05, 2004

The Third Party Temptation

As conservatives and libertarians total up the instances where the Bush administration and the Republican Party compromised their principles, many are tempted to vote for a principled right wing third party. During the 2002 campaign, Thomas Sowell wrote a column for these disgruntled conservatives and attempted to persuade them to vote Republican.

Voters who are familiar with the way America's electoral system works shouldn't need persuasion. In many of the democracies of continental Europe political power is allocated in proportion to the vote received by political parties. In that case, there is a significant difference between receiving 10 percent of the vote and 15 percent. But, America's electoral system is one of winner take all for the candidate receiving the most votes. It isn't even necessary to receive a majority of the vote in a multi candidate race.

Many Democrats blame 2000 Green Party nominee Ralph Nader for delivering the electoral votes of New Hampshire and Florida to George W. Bush. In fact, many Republicans believe that "GREEN" stands for "Get Republicans Elected Every November."

In 1990, I cast my first and last vote for a minor party candidate, a libertarian candidate for California's 35th US Congressional district named Jerry Johnson. When George Bush (41) decided to break his no new taxes promise and Jerry Lewis, the Republican Congressman of California's 35th Congressional district, voted for the Bush tax increase, I decided to cast a protest vote for the libertarian candidate.

But, on reflection, I don't believe votes should be based on emotion. Nor do I believe that votes should be based entirely on principle without regard to political reality. There are two political parties that win elections in America. And a vote for any other political party is similar to not voting at all.

So, I say to all of those who support an aggressive war on terrorism over pacifism, those who support the free enterprise system over the regulatory state, those who support a criminal justice system that holds criminals accountable for their crimes and those who support the bedrock values that make a free society possible to vote a straight Republican ticket this November.

Reread Thomas Sowell's column if you still aren't sure.