Overview of American Political Landscape

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by David Remer May 23, 2003 --

One need only read the party platforms of the numerous political parties registered for the 2000 presidential election to realize that American politics is very factionalized. The very growth of political parties over the last couple of decades indicates that the two major parties, The Democrats and The Republicans, have left a great number of citizens feeling unrepresented. This fact is heightened by the shamefully low level of eligible voters actually turning out to vote. The 1996 and 2000 year elections showed the lowest voter turnout since 1924, some 70 years ago. [Committee: Study of American Electorate].

Many of current alternate parties call for an end to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) which maintains the status quo in favor of the Democrats and Republicans (in fact the FEC is controlled by these two parties since the FEC states in its mission statement the following:

"The Commission is made up of six members, who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Each member serves a six-year term, and two seats are subject to appointment every two years. By law, no more than three Commissioners can be members of the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official Commission action." [FEC]

Think about this FEC statement for a minute and you will see why only the Republicans and Democrats control the FEC.

With only half of the eligible voters participating in the electoral system for whatever, reason, half of the eligible voters are not represented by the parties or in government. To provide context note the following from Findlaw Columnist, John Dean:

"American voting habits are particularly striking when compared with those of other democratic nations, like Japan and Germany, where 89 percent of the potential voters go to the polls. In fact, most democracies have about 80 percent voter participation. Of the 153 democracies in the world, the United States ranks near the bottom for voter involvement." [CNN]

This simple fact would seem to indicate more than just apathy. An insightful study of voter registration and voting laws was conducted by , Jason P.W. Halperin, in New York University's Journal of Legislation and Public Policy. The article entitled "A Winner at the Polls: A Proposal for Mandatory Voter Registration," analyzed dismal voter turnout. The most striking part of the study was that registered voters do in fact vote in high numbers and percentages.

This begs the question, what is to be gained by the U.S. maintaining low voter turnout? Of course, the assumption is implicit that the U.S. and state governments are keeping voter registration low. This assumption is drawn from the fact that the U.S. and state governments are made up of Republicans and Democrats with few exceptions. I suspect that the Dem's and Repub's view that 121 million non-voting public as potentially not Democrat or Republican, and best that they don't vote anyway.

There is no question that uniformly easy voter registration would help. But, there is a gross lack of motor voter registration, internet registration, or lifetime U.S. citizen registration in this country. As long as the two main parties are in control of the FEC, it seems clear that voter registration will never be made easy, as a means of weeding out those who would not register for one or the other of the two main parties.

With half the nation unrepresented in government, and with government intruding ever more upon the private lives of American residents, an upheaval of sorts seems to be in the making. As Alexis de Tocqueville and Adam Smith indicated, self-interest shall be the motivating factor in a democracy. And more and more unregistered voters are going to be impacted by government in larger ways and this alone should promote the self-interest factor necessary to motivate political participation. However, such motivation must have a direction, and the 3rd party platforms and candidates are the direction needed. The obstacle is media prevalence. If 3rd partys are able to reach the disgruntled but newly motivated non-voters with their message that they represent views in line with the disenfranchised citizens, registration and votership should increase dramatically.

It is with great hope that I commend the interent for bringing news and information regarding political parties and especially 3rd parties to the general public. The media seems little interested in following and "airing" the platforms of 3rd partys. However, the internet requires only the interest of the PC owner to acquire such information. It is with this in mind that I dedicate this web log to those looking for an alternative affiliation with a party that can assist citizens in making their voice and concerns heard in the political process.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on May 24, 2003 2:58 PM.

Informed Consent Essential to Democracy. was the previous entry in this blog.

Bush Jr. & H. Hoover Related? is the next entry in this blog.

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