The Ecphorizer

A Non-Electable Third Party
Chester B. Smith

Issue #69 (August 1987)

Last year, the editor wrote an article in The Ecphorizer [Wanted: $4.5 Billion] about what an individual could do for the world with

Start a third party that cannot hold office...

a few billion bucks. The article reminded me of a thought that has been around for so long that I forget where I stole it.

With elections and the Constitution in the news, it is very clear that the issues, both political and constitutional, which will determine our future are very unclear. Can so many people sharing the same government perpetually fail to perceive their [quoteright]common interests in a land of special interests? Most of us share the same basic values and fear common fears, but we cannot fashion a governing body which will address our common concerns in a mature and consistent manner. Instead, we go from election to election, buzzword to buzzword, hype to hype, failure to failure and hope to despair. Maybe we have lost the ability to harness and control this government created by the Constitution, not because of any fundamental differences in the people, but because we no longer have access to full knowledge of the issues.

Why not utilize the academic community to teach us what students need to learn to become the future government? Start a third party that cannot hold office, whose sole function is to publicly discuss the issues. It would be part of every high school curriculum and a college credit course, set up in a league like the sports programs. Participants would be in the novel position of participating in debates with politicians without regard to anything but debating the issues. I think high school students are sophisticated enough to address local issues with local politicians in a community forum. Without political liability, they are likely to discuss issues more fully and openly. This will force the politicians to add some depth to their platforms and the student will have participated in his government. After all, many are old enough to vote.

Each school will have an impact on local government according to the student body's ability and efforts, the same as the local government depends on the ability and efforts of the voters. Regional issues can be refined by debates between schools in the region before unleashing the students on the public. The colleges should be unique for in-depth analysis of issues, honing their presentations through intrastate and interstate competitions.

We are in a political situation where people are elected because they have familiar names, a certain political party, are photogenic or are celebrities. Issues are reduced to buzzwords; trickle down, Reganomics, Star Wars, conservative, liberal, protectionist, etc. I do not believe that people are any different now than they were at the Constitutional Convention. When placed in a situation where people can engage in free and open debate, they will compromise to come up with a workable solution. The Articles of Confederation were a mistake, so they met again and formed a better government. No doubt there was full expectation that this better government would be made still better as the experience of years exposed new needs.
Something went wrong. The need to compromise was replaced by a simple need to obtain a majority by any means and a majority is best obtained by avoiding accountability. Use smoke, mirrors, polls, media, obfuscation, fear, whatever it takes, but do not take an unpopular position. And it works because there is no one independent of the system who can place the public's interests neutrally and fairly before the voters.

A non-electable third party will not reduce controversy, nor will it suddenly homogenize adverse interests, but it can bring out the facts we need to become voters responsive to potential real solutions. We may even educate a new breed of politician along the way or provide a forum for an unphotogenic Lincoln.

Think of it. You could check off your $1 contribution on your tax return for the American Independent Parties. Each regional party qualifies for matching funds for their platform after intraregional debate. They select their candidate for the playoffs and determine the national platform and candidates in the Superbowl one year before the national elections. The national candidates go on the campaign trail along with the major party candidates and speak out instead of hide out. Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts. 

Political philosopher CHESTER B. SMITH lives and votes in Coudersport, PA, from which he hopes to launch his unelectable candidates.

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