Why Voting Third Party is Now a Moral Imperative -> Lightfoot for Secretary of State -> LPC SLO Home

Why Voting Third Party is Now a Moral Imperative
by Gail Lightfoot

At bottom; anyone with the funds to blanket the airwaves with ads is unworthy of your vote, because the money used to pay for them invariably comes at a price fatally compromising the candidate

Surely many of you have read through your voter pamphlets, and have been impressed, from time to time, by third party candidates bold enough to challenge the status quo. You watch these unheard but courageous "media pariahs" run for the mere principle of celebrating democracy, and watch them voice the stifled voice of the common man; in their own small way...yet somehow, through that reluctant admiration, you perceive your vote will be a wasted one unless it is given to one of two parties. This is a dangerous misconception.

What then, is a wasted vote? Consider the vote for the incumbent, any incumbent. Former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush is a good case in point:

In 1997, several dismissed employees of the Department of Insurance actually filed suit against California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush claiming they were fired because they refused to break the law; because they refused to conceal evidence for the benefit of insurance companies, or side with them exclusively in civil litigation. Is it any wonder? Not only was he a former insurance industry executive, Quackenbush also holds stock in the same companies that he was elected to police. As this matter resolves itself in the courts, we know this much-- there is a disturbing corroboration to the accounts of those dismissed employees from a very interesting source. According to the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, '98: "The state's top auditor had issued a scathing appraisel last year of the Department of Insurance, saying that it had exhibited a 'limited effectiveness' in protecting consumers from illegal or unfair insurance practices." *
The Supreme Court takes the stance that the wealthy and corporations have a right to free speech. True enough, but so does the common man. Conveniently ignoring the fact that money equals media visibility and access, and that indeed, the very nature of campaign fund-raising is aimed at funding radio and television commercials; the Court bias against the common man is as transparent as it undemocratic. This is akin to the infamous Dred Scott decision that precipitated the Civil War. Back then it was decided, by the Supreme Court, that a "white man is not bound to respect the rights of a colored person." Today, we have a more grievous reality than that which affects both white and black alike: that a rich man is not bound to respect the rights of the common man; particularly in respect to the electoral process.

If indeed, the mere act of running for office requires an otherwise honorable candidate to compromise himself with campaign funds in proportion to that received; it is apparent the highest Court in the nation has become an advocate for evil by creating an environment where good cannot hope to prosper or take root. And if it is an evil that must be defended to maintain the Supreme Court's interests, let it be put into law once and for all; that future generations may recognize the first Justices to remove, among their countless trespasses against their countrymen, the stench of their hypocrisy.

Also consider the endless commercials between the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, Gray Davis and Dan Lungren, respectively. Lungren's ads tout his support for the "3-Strikes" law, and targets Davis' opposition to the same, which Davis fiercely contests. However, what neither Davis or Lungren address as they glorify this controversial law; is that study after study since 1995 has found it not only useless in preventing crime, but used by a racially biased state justice system to disproportionately sentence minorities. Dare either candidate tout the "3-Stikes" law when it comes to the disproportionate sentencing of minorities? In 1996, the Los Angeles Times published the results of an alarming study released by the non-profit Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice ("Study Questions Justice System's Racial Fairness", Pg. A1, Feb. 13, 1996). The most alarming finding is one you'll never hear about in either Lungren or Davis' "3-Strikes" ads, which portray this law if it were penned by the finger of God:

In California, blacks are charged under this law at 17 times the rate of whites in Los Angeles, and 13 times the rate of whites in San Francisco. In Los Angeles, Latinos are charged under this law at 10 times the rate of whites.

Yet if were not for the black and Latino vote in the present race for governor, it would be a dead heat. Davis should bear this in mind as he pretends there is no discrepancy when pressed on the issue. And though either candidate would do cartwheels for the Times' endorsement, it is ironic the same paper has no credibility, to these candidates, when the same paper exposes corruption in the state's justice system.

All of these evils originated with the acquiescence of the broadcast media, which is, after all, a business; therefore it stands to reason that any candidate that employs the broadcast media to campaign for office cannot truly be trusted, period. Those who do use television and radio ads usually have the scripts written by public relations agencies. And frankly, the job of PR agencies is to misinform, rather than inform, and to think otherwise is dangerously naive. This, too, costs money, which compromises the candidate in proportion to that given him.

Thanks to the hysteria the typical PR ads are calculated to produce, and the ridiculous assumption the justice system is incapable of error, as mainstream politicians would attest-- the call for political accountability will remain unheeded inasmuch as we cast our votes their way. By voting GOP or Democrat, you inherently agree with the notion that this pious "tough-on-crime" mentality does not, and never was meant to apply to the crooked politician, the murderous prison guard who blasts off the skull of a prisoner to get his rocks off, or the insurance executive turned Insurance Commissioner so profoundly obscene he would fire employees for not breaking the law.

The Options

There is only one way to work around this paradox, and that is to vote for a third party candidate you likely will know nothing about until you read their statement in the voting booth or voter pamphlet.

The guideline is a simple one:

1. In the race for high office, if at all possible vote third party. Start the precedent. In a close race, this so-called "protest" vote can, at the very least, force candidates to face issues they would otherwise avoid.

2. In the lower-profile races, if you heard of the candidate on the radio or saw them in television ads more than once or twice, don't vote for them. Whoever bought their airtime bought the politician as well.

3. Also be wary of well-funded initiatives that have lopsided media exposure. Any interest that can blanket the airwaves is gagging the opposition. It's a disservice to the voter as much as it is to the opponents.

In most states, it's likely you will still have a choice of several other parties whom you may have never heard of before (e.g. Green Party or Libertarian), but whose candidates are probably just as capable. If you perceive your vote, as it is now, is a wasted one whether it goes to the Democrat or Republican, then toss their way. As it is you have nothing, so you have nothing to lose.

Better to vote for someone you think might be compromised, than vote for someone you know full-well is compromised.

Rejecting the notion of voting for the lesser of two evils by voting for none at all; the non-voter unwittingly plays right into the hands of greatest stench unto his nostrils-- the same "good-ol'-boy" network of Democratic and Republic candidates that represent America's most unaccountable criminal class. But if even that apathetic, non-voting half appealed to a third party, even if it wasn't a common party, it could eventually shatter the stranglehold the present duocracy has placed on our democracy.

*See "Key Issue is Industry's Backing of Quackenbush", Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27 '98, pg.A3