Why Republicans and Democrats can't stand competition
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‘Tis the season for another round of political bigotry to come coursing through Capitol Hill. How dare Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonOn The Trail: Making sense of Super Poll Sunday Polarized campaign leaves little room for third-party hopefuls The Memo: Trump retains narrow path to victory MORE and Jill Stein of the Libertarian and Green Parties, respectively, aspire to high single-digit support? Don’t they realize that they will be “spoilers” and will “siphon away” votes from the Republican and Democratic candidates who are more likely to win?

Here we go again, with the unspoken predicates of a pompous duopoly that never directs words like “spoiler” or “siphon away” toward one another. The two major parties, don’t we know, own all the voters in the country. Don’t possible third-party voters realize that Johnson and Stein are megalomaniacs promoting pie-in-the-sky ideas to their gullible believers? This is no time for frolics and detours; the other major party is so much worse. Get real!


Get real, indeed, with the cyclical redundancy of Wuthering Heights — a national legislature, ossified by safe gerrymandered districts, and fluctuation between complacent gridlock or sadistically conceived proposals such as cutting the IRS budget to aid-and-abet $300 billion in uncollected taxes per year, or starving enforcement budgets against massive fraud on Medicare, Medicaid, or the Pentagon, which brings in between $10 and $20 in revenue for every $1 in enforcement funds.

Decaying in their stasis, the corporatist and militant Democratic and Republican Parties cannot abide competition — even from each other, which is what gerrymandering is all about. Toward third parties, the duopoly has built the highest hurdles in the western world to stymie small-party competition (and, one might add, to stymie voters as well). These obstacles include state ballot access hurdles, modes of harassment by the Secretaries of State for individual states, and even if the hurdles are surmounted, a candidate must face hassling of their street petitioners collecting signatures, exclusion from debates and a plethora of frivolous litigation before selected partisan jurists.

I know all these obstacles and more because they confronted my presidential campaigns in 2000, 2004 and 2008. They are chronicled in all their shameful intensity by my campaign manager, Theresa Amato, in her book Grand Illusion: the Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny.

Instead of acting like political spoiled brats, the two parties should refresh their history, which shows that third parties – none of which have ever won a national election — were nonetheless leading champions in the great changes that made America work towards Justice.

The abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, numerous regulatory protections for farmers and workers, progressive taxation, the 40-hour week, the social safety nets of social security, unemployment compensation, Medicare/Medicaid and civil rights for minorities — all of these were pressed by third parties decades or more before one of the major parties picked them up (or at the very least went along with their popular support).

Given these sonorous hints from history — that small parties, who have an equal right to run their candidates, are usually the most innovative and far-seeing — one can ask why the two major parties don’t look at, instead of sneer at, the agendas of the Libertarian and Green Parties to see what they can adopt in order to siphon votes away from the small fry. After all, there is no patent on these proposals, which include such broadly-supported initiatives as going for stronger civil liberties and civil rights, taxing Wall Street transactions, auditing the presently unauditable, bloated Pentagon budget(which is moving into its 25th year of violating federal law in that regard), and redirecting the savings to help rebuild our unsafe, deteriorating infrastructure.

Other proposals by smaller parties require that no wars of choice be waged without the constitutional requirement of a Congressional declaration of war to instruct the President.

Both the Green and Libertarian Parties want real criminal justice reform, an end to corporate welfare or crony capitalism, and stepping back from the quagmire-ridden, spreading American Empire. They both favor an end to the special privileges given to giant corporations against the community businesses that create most of the jobs.

These are majoritarian positions. If Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCruz: Wife 'pretty pissed' about leaked Cancun texts CBC would back Young for OMB if Tanden falls Hillary Clinton to co-write political thriller MORE cannot match her “mimic-Bernie” rhetoric of the past six months with a sincere follow-through in the fall campaign, she and her scapegoating cohorts will only help the Green and Libertarian Parties ascend to greater prominence.

After all, elections are not first and foremost about the two parties; they are about the well-being and rights of the American people. Trying to marginalize third parties by treating them as second-class citizens, instead of challenging their voters head-on, will only sow the seeds of the demise of the two-party duopoly in the coming years.

Given Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders has right goal, wrong target in fight to help low-wage workers Democrats in standoff over minimum wage Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack MORE’s unforeseen, remarkable, cash-rich-in-small-donations campaign, given how Trump has whetted the appetites of future billionaires, and given the alienation of tens of millions of voters from the Republican and Democratic Parties, in an age of social media, the old, smug ways of this exclusionary duopoly will begin to crumble a lot faster than many pondering pundits think. Mark my words!

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and lawyer, and is the author of Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.