Having just talked about how I'm not supposed to be affiliated with any group, I'm going to swing the other way and touch on politics because I was thinking about it, and I write stuff off the top of my head when I do that. To summarize the rest of this post, here are my basic personal political beliefs:
(1) The Constitution is a great idea. We should try living by it sometime.
(2) The job of the government is to protect the people from outside forces, not to control them.
(3) Taking care of the people is the job of the people, not of the government.
(4) Any organization will attempt to increase it's power until it reaches "absolute power" and will resist all attempts to restrain it.
(5) Individuals should be free to choose their own actions, be responsible and accountable for their own actions, and accept the repercussions of those actions.
Put those together and you can probably project my opinion on pretty much any topic.
[Clarification: When I speak of "government" in the general sense, I am speaking of it at the Federal level]
That being said, I just took The World's Smallest Political Quiz, which tells you where you basically fall in the political question with just 10 questions. I ended pretty firmly in the Libertarian camp, though I am not affiliated with the party.
Fortunately, they seem to have the basic ideas that I support. Unfortunately, the very principles that make them attractive to me are the very qualities that prevent them from becoming a major political force. Sort of like Wicca in the religious arena, the very "decentralized power" structure it is based up is antithical to it obtaining sufficient power to make the changes you want to make.
That being said, I'd like to offer some strategies that might help alternative parties, whatever they may be, to obtain at least enough power to weaken the major parties that they compete against. Quite frankly I'm not worried about diluting the election for either party, as neither major party supports the 5 beliefs I described above (or lacks the conviction to support them) and I think that they are both screwed up, unsustainable in the medium-to-long-term and are doomed to failure (at least from the perspective of a citizen that wants to live in a free country) in their current forms. That being said, here's my suggestion to counter some of the usual full-of-crap rhetoric.
Full of crap rhetoric #1:
"Don't Waste Your Vote" - This is stupidest thing you could possibly say to a voter, so of course the major political parties say it often enough that people start to believe it. The only way you could possibly waste your vote is to: (1) Don't Vote or (2) Vote for someone you don't want to actually win. Here's my counter-proposal that I hereby release to the public domain in the hopes that some other political party or organization will pick it up and run with it:
INVEST YOUR VOTE!
Let's accept the fact that if you vote for a third party candidate (whatever the party may be) they are pretty certain not to win the election. But don't think of it as a wasted vote, think of it as an INVESTED VOTE.
What is an investment? It is something small that you put away now and don't use in the hopes that it will grow into something more useful and powerful in the future. And that is exactly what INVEST YOUR VOTE means to do. You take your vote and you invest it in a third-party candidate. Do this repeatedly each election cycle, and watch how your interest compounds, just like money would.
Let's look at what happens when you and others invest their votes:
1) A third party gets a larger portion of the vote (would be a small increase each time, but would be cumulative)
2) As more people see that they are getting a larger share of the vote each election, others will be more likely to vote for them as well (since they won't be "throwing away their vote" if a candidate could actually win (but they should still read this to understand it's not "throwing it away")
3) As more votes are acquired by candidates, it makes it easier to get on the election rolls in more election districts, which further increases the opportunity for those parties to get even more votes, as they are now on more ballots.
4) The time, effort and money usually spent just trying to third-party candidates onto the ballots can now be spent actually campaigning for their party and increasing issue awareness, instead of just trying to collect enough signatures to get them listed on the ballots.
5) As third-party candidates become more viable and more present in ballot rolls across the country, more people will vote for them (repeat from step 1)
6) As they get on more rolls, the press will cover them in more detail, which will even further raise awareness of them and their issues
7) The additional press coverage will increase likelyhood of getting even more votes (return to step 1)
8) As these candidates are now being covered in the press, their positions will also be covered
9) As actual positions and policies are being discussed now, instead of just the usual "I'm better than them" two-party rhetoric, the main parties will also be forced to discuss actual issues, and we can get more of a sense of where they actually stand on things.
10) Third party candidates will be able to participate in mass-media public forums like debates, which will raise their visibility even more
11) The more visible they are, the more likely people are to see them as being worthy of casting their vote for them (repeat at step 1)
12) The more likely the party is of actually winning, the more high-quality and high-profile candidates they will have an option of selecting from to represent their party
13) The higher-quality and higher-profile the candidate is, the more press they will get, the more likely they are to get even more votes (return to step 1)
14) Throughout the process, as third-party candidates become progressively more likely to win, more people are likely to donate (invest) money in their campaigns
15) With more money in the campaigns, they will be able to campaign and market and compete even better (return to step 1)
14) Eventually, as enough people realize that their vote actually can make a difference, their votes WILL make a difference.
Even if a third-party candidate never actually gets elected, it will still have positive side effects:
1) Candidates will be compelled to actually discuss relevant issues if they want to get votes
2) Candidates will have to worry about their actual positions and think them through as opposed to just saying "I'm not like HIM!"
3) Candidates will realize that they actually have a legitimate threat and that they need to be responsive to their constituency if they want to stay employed.
I hope that if you aren't in love with either of the major candidates, you will consider INVESTING your vote for future return.
Some relevant bumper sticker wisdom to help drive the point home:
"If you choose the lesser of two evils, you have still chosen EVIL."
"Satan for President, when you're tired of voting for the LESSER of two evils."
The point is, if you are tired of voting for someone you don't actually WANT to win, then invest your vote in someone who might win in the future.
If you don't invest, you are guaranteed to never see a return on what you have now.
And what you have now is your vote.
Please feel free to forward this to anyone you might think may be interested. Copy and paste it if you like, or forward them this link: http://www.livejournal.com/users/methas