In the past one hundred years, there have only been two significant third-party challenges to the corrupt two-party system: one from the Progressive Party, led by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, and the other by Ross Perot, who ran for president as an Independent in 1992 and later organized the Reform Party. In both cases, the two major political parties used their considerable power and influence to attack and eliminate the threats posed by these third-party movements. Ballot access, which simply means getting your name listed as a candidate on a ballot, is their most powerful weapon. Until the late nineteenth century, there were generally no restrictions on ballot access in the U.S. In the 1880s a voters’ reform movement led to officially designed secret ballots. This was both positive and negative. On the one hand, it improved the integrity of our voting system. On the other hand, it gave the government control over who could be on the ballot. Since the government in the 1880s was primarily controlled by the Democrats and Republicans, this allowed them to rig the election system by implementing restrictive ballot-access laws. Over the past 130 years, the Democrats and Republicans have constructed a maze of cumbersome regulations and procedures that make it extremely difficult for third parties and independent candidates to gain a spot on the general election ballot. The procedures vary by state, which makes them even more expensive and difficult to overcome. Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic candidates are automatically included on all general election ballots. Other weapons used by the two major parties to ensure their monopoly on political power continues unchallenged include:
• Campaign Finance Reform LawsThese laws are written to strongly favor the two major political parties, and they make it extremely difficult for third parties to receive any significant financing. This should be no surprise since the laws were written by and for members of the Republican and Democratic parties.
• Media CoverageThe major U.S. media sources are aligned closely with the two major political parties. This has been true historically and continues today. Televised presidential debates exclude third-party candidates. These debates have been rigged by the two major parties, as evidenced in 1996 when the Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization founded and funded by the Democratic and Republican Parties, changed its rules for the sole purpose of excluding Perot, who had done very well in the 1992 presidential debates. His exclusion dealt a decisive blow to the 1996 Perot campaign (CNN).
• Attacking the Legitimacy of Third Parties It is common for major-party candidates to argue that a third-party vote is wasted, or that third-party challengers are “fringe” candidates who stand outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse. The major parties have also employed a full array of dirty tricks against independent challengers, and they don’t sit idly by while third-party candidates battle state election laws. They actively fight to prevent third parties from securing spots on the ballot.
The Democratic and Republican parties also have virtually unlimited resources at their disposal, which means that to have a realistic chance of breaking their monopoly on political power, Independents and third parties must unite! Those of us who do not belong to either of the two major parties must put aside any partisan differences and come together as patriotic Americans to form a nonpartisan coalition. This coalition could work together with other nonpartisan groups—such as No Labels and Occupy Wall Street—to clean up and open up our political system.
We can and must unite around a common goal: rescuing the country we love from the corrupt influence of corporations, Wall Street, and special interests. This will only be accomplished by electing independent candidates, not those bound by obligation to either major political party. Such a coalition would enable the pooling of resources and an expanded network to identify and support viable third-party candidates who could effectively compete and win against the Democrats and Republicans. If you are interested in joining this nonpartisan coalition of American patriots, please sign this petition. We will then contact you directly to advise of next steps.
- J. R. Martin
Author / Selling U.S. Out