With all the scuttlebutt created by the potential independent run for President by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg national media outlets are beginnign to ask how people feel about the two big parties.
found 57% of Americans think the two parties aren't serving the needs of the country. Too bad they didn't ask who people thought they were serving. 57% also believed we need a third option. (results here
), brace yourself, was more conservative. Still, nothing to sneeze at. 45% thought it would be good if an independent candidate moved into the White House. They discovered 6 in 10 voters would consider casting a ballot for an independent candidate for president. It was consistent across party lines. Buried in the full results
they reveal 67% of respondents would consider voting for a "third party independent candidate they like." Seems their results were not conservative, just the reporting of them.
Here in Vermont we actually have a third party. We're not the best known and we aren't running in every race - yet. But we're building. We used to be dismissed because we could only elect people in Burlington. Then we expanded and won a seat in Brattleboro. Some in the media brushed that accomplishment aside because it's another "liberal" town. In 2004 we won seats in Derby, North Troy (both in the Kingdom) and Bethel (Windsor Co.). So much for liberal towns.
In 2002 we earned 25% in the race for Lt. Governor. Dubie won that race with 42% and therein lies the eternal conflict. People want more options. If you bought a pizza and the restaurant told you there were only two options I bet you wouldn't go back. But when voters chose a new chief executive for the 660,000 people in Vermont there is overwhelming pressure to keep the two-party system alive.
Before you go away thinking our six seats in the VT House are no big deal, consider this. In the United States there are roughly 7,000 state legislators. Of these only 7 are elected with a third-party label. 6 are Vermont Progressives. Furthermore, I believe there are 5 independents nationwide, 2 are in Vermont. Our state has consistently cast more votes per capita outside the two-party system than any other (thank you Bernie). It's a tradition we should be proud of and work to expand.
We need a voting system that permits more than two voices and removes the so-called spoiler problem (see IRV
). We need a richer debate and new ideas to surface. We need to recognize the deep dissatisfaction voters feel toward the two-party system and we need to continue to expand the Progressive Party, if only to further break open the democratic process. The big guys don't own elections and they don't own democracy. Voters want and deserve better.