It is abundantly clear from my last post that I have all but given up on two-party politics and our supposedly democratic president in office. I made an admission in that piece that I did, in fact, vote for Obama in 2008; an admission that now fills me with guilt (and embarrassment) of having not realized more quickly that I was being duped by the very same system that gave us Bush 1, Bush 2, Clinton, McCain, Romney, and so on. Once I quit swooning over the president’s handsome vocabulary and progressive rhetoric and learned of his truly abysmal record of the most deportations under any presidency, that his dirty money has come from many of the same donors as McCain in 2008 and as Romney this election cycle, and that he has effectively chucked due process out the window by making the unilateral decision to have two U.S. citizens killed without trial, I quickly woke up to the reality. Well, actually, I first fell into a deep, and seemingly never-ending depression at how utterly trapped we are in this corporate money-system and that there is simply no way to escape this plutocracy except to give up. But after all that, I realized that it was time to put my energy into third parties and thus I began campaigning for newly formed Justice Party candidate, Ross “Rocky” Anderson.
(Learn more here)
This switch has been all but easy. Philosophically speaking, morally speaking, the switch was a simple and logical one. I cannot support either the democratic presidential candidate or the republican presidential candidate. Both sides, with the exception of very few members in office, people like Elizabeth Warren, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and others, have been nothing if not sorely disappointing in all areas of politics. Naturally, from this point of view, pledging my allegiance to a third-party candidate for president was natural.
Aside from the great feelings (free from guilt and embarrassment) that you get when you actually support someone who will work for the people and not the money, the switch has been challenging. To start, getting people even aware of a third-party candidate is daunting, to say the least. For third parties like the Green Party who are already established, the issue of awareness is slightly easier. For a party like the Justice Party, which Rocky recently helped to found, the task becomes even greater. And awareness isn’t the only issue. You also have to get people excited. You have to inspire them to drop their normal routine of sticking strictly to Dems or Repubs just out of habit and loyalty. You have to show them the failings in that system, make them believe it, and then inspire them to change it.
Forcing people to change such ingrained habits as DEMOCRAT or REPUBLICAN is much more difficult than one might think. People become some intrenched in these ideas and these loyalties that even cold, hard facts about the failings in each party do little to persuade them. This idea that people will rationalize, ignore, and deny factual evidence that is contrary to something they believe passionately in is not specific to politics. This cognitive dissonance, as it is termed, can occur any time someone’s belief clashes with reality. Instead of examining that reality, questioning the original belief, and amending that belief to fit with the logical outside world, people often opt to amend reality instead. In conversations that I have had with people, people who I consider to be incredibly logical and intelligent, urging them to examine their party loyalty to President Obama I have, more often than not, hit a brick wall. I present the facts: National Defense Authorization Act eroding even more of our civil liberties, assassination of U.S. citizens, corporate and financial sector funding election, etc. and the words have no effect. It is as if the words I speak when I say, “an unprecidented act that authorized the assassination of U.S. citizens without due process,” or “signed a bill into law that allows U.S. citizens to be indefinitely detained without trail,” are being muffled over. As soon as I provide a very factual and legitimate criticism of their Democratic Party President, it is as if an impenetrable force field is raised and my words can do nothing but bounce off and fall flat on the floor.
The largest impediment that I have come across while pushing a third-party candidate like Rocky Anderson for president is the argument that Obama in office is better than any Republican in office and that giving their vote to a third-party will only push Romney into office. Not only is cognitive dissonance at play here – the dissonance being that Bush and all previous presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike, never authorized the purposeful killing of U.S. citizens without trial, among other things – but so is this defeatist view. This view that we can never subvert the system, only make small, meaningless plays within the parameters that those in power have already set for us. It is the idea that we are stuck with what we have and while what we have is certainly not good, is terrible in fact, we could have worse and thus should just accept it and be carried along with it. It is this mindset that has been that largest obstacle for third-party candidates and their supporters in this country. The obstacle that people have lost hope. When Obama was running in 2008 throngs of people were swept up into the idea that there was HOPE and there was CHANGE and things could be different because we could make them that way. And while Obama was a sour disappointment to many, must we give up and give in so easily? Can we not tap into the passion that the nation had just four years ago and demand better?
This year, as every year, there are only two candidates on the national stage: Obama and Romney, Democrat and Republican. Borrowing from a 2008 episode of South Park, we can choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich. Is that really how you want to cast your vote? Isn’t it about time that we demand another option?
While I am realistic that the likelihood of my third-party candidate actually winning the presidency is not very high, for the first time, I feel proud of what I am voting for. I have passion and excitement about the candidate, rather than a feeling of hopeless resignation and defeat.
If nothing else, my vote will make a statement that I will not be a witness to the plutocracy any longer and I will not give into these corporate magnates that have usurped our system of government. For once, I will not vote for a Giant Douch or a Turd Sandwich. My stance will be clear. What will your vote say this election?