Today’s Washington Post has a story about Sean Haugh, the Libertarian candidate for the US Senate in North Carolina. The story also mentions other states where Libertarian candidates are offering a another choice to voters, instead of just the traditional Republican or Democratic candidates.
The whole story is worth reading, but the one line that resonated with me the most was this –
The idea that there is an alternative to the two major parties has no small appeal at a time when voters are so disillusioned.
That’s it folks. It’s not that this insurgence of third party candidates is producing superior choices, it’s that those choices are acceptable when the traditional parties’ candidates aren’t.
The reason is simple. When someone seeks the Republican or Democratic nomination for a major office, they have to win the approval of a pre-determined coalition. Both coalitions include factions that hold views that are unacceptable to many voters. Honestly, I think that most voters find both the GOP and Dem coalitions unacceptable, but continue to participate only because they feel like they have no other option.
I’ve said before that I support free-market reforms to the electoral system to break the major parties’ stranglehold on the process so that independent candidates, who have built their own brand and coalitions, have the opportunity for ballot access.
The reason so many limited-government candidates run as Libertarians is because the Libertarian Party has ballot access, but a lot of good candidates won’t do that because they don’t want to wear the Libertarian brand. I know that I would have a hard time running as a Libertarian because of the party’s positions regarding foreign policy.
It’s time for real reform in the process, and I think that reform includes abolishing political parties. Yes, I realize that that goal is probably unrealistic because the parties have built a system that is designed to preserve their power, but you have to have something to shoot for, right?
Let’s all at least engage in a debate about how we can open up the process to include everybody, not just those who fall into the traditional party coalitions.