Third Parties are NOT Spoilers, They’re Essential to Democracy
For twelve years Democrats have been residing in delusion over the 2000 Presidential Election, needing desperately to place blame for Al Gore’s “defeat” and Bush’s elevation to White House. Instead of placing responsibility where it belongs, too many Democrats found their easy scapegoat in Ralph Nader and his third-party – Green Party – candidacy and the 10,000 votes he assembled in Florida.
The answer to this self-deception should be obvious, but as we approach the threshold of yet another hand-wringing presidential election and the specter of third-party candidacies loom large against the backdrop of yet another tight election, it is important to re-visit 2000 in light of the failure of our Constitutional presidency and the nondemocratic Electoral College’s power to thwart the public will.
Nader did NOT deliver the presidency to Bush in the 2000 Election.
The US Supreme Court delivered the presidency to Bush by a 5-4 vote.
First of all, those voting for Nader would have stayed home instead of voting for Gore, so the vote totals did not reflect a shift from Dem to Green. In fact, all the votes in Florida never were counted; had they been, Gore would have won the Electoral College – just as he did the popular vote. Never in the history of the US has a Presidential election been so manipulated to thwart the will of the majority. Nader’s candidacy brought a higher turnout in states where he was on the ballot. 10,000 Florida votes was not enough to adversely affect the election either way when millions were thrown out or ignored by Republican officeholders in Florida – and the US Supreme Court thumbed its nose at the Florida Supreme Court, which had ordered a complete recount of the presidential ballots. Again, Nader had nothing to do with any of it. Democrats must stop rewriting history by insisting that Nader threw the election W. by his entry in the race and by his garnering 10,000 votes of otherwise disenchanted Democrats.
One other issue regarding third-party candidates: There is no law against third or multiple parties – and there shouldn’t be. Multiple parties are far more reflective of the range of public opinion than any two parties ever could be.
Fact is, the US Constitutional presidency was the major mistake the founders made in constructing our form of government, not creating the far more effective parliamentary system that more successfully governs other democracies.
Parliamentary systems are far better in forcing reconciliation and collaboration between parties of nuanced orientation, is far more accountable by allowing elections to be more frequent if confidence in the current government flags and it forces the lower legislative house majority or coalition to govern the country as well as passing the laws.
One of the worst constructs in governance ever has been the severe separation of powers in governing and the curtailing of multiple parties by shunning “minor” parties and forcing two-party governance between which the lines have blurred over the last 200 years.