Friday, July 23, 2010

A Lesson From the Past

A little over fifty years ago, my hometown newspaper published an article beneath the headline "PREPARATIONS ARE MADE FOR JULY 23 PRIMARY." Here are some excerpts:
Final preparations gathered steam and early balloting began this week for the Democratic and Republican First Primaries July 23, the first dual primaries to be held here in recent years.
Held simultaneously with the Democratic Primary will be a Republican Primary between candidates for U.S. Senator, William Dane and George W. Reese, Jr. This, the first Republican Primary in Winn in years, promises to be a light ballot with only six registered Republicans in the Parish. Democrats are not eligible to cross party lines in the Primary....
---- Winn Parish Enterprise, July 14, 1960

The writer clearly regarded a Republican primary as a novelty and, in citing the tiny number of registered Republicans in Winn Parish at that time, made the point that it was an event in which few people would get to participate.

This year, Louisiana will be holding another novel primary. Since the Libertarian primary will be open to both the 3500 or so registered Libertarians in the state and the 660,000+ registered independents, it will probably attract a much larger vote share than the Republican primary did fifty years ago.

Still, there are some interesting parallels between then and now.

In 1960 (and even much later) registered Republicans in Louisiana were hard to find. There were occasional Republican candidates, but they didn't win. Those candidates were philosophical standard-bearers who ran to remind the voters that there was another choice.

Fifty years ago the Republicans were a "minor" party in Louisiana just as surely as the Libertarians are a "minor" party today. Gradually, the Republicans gained ground here because the Democrats were out of touch with the people of this state.

Today, BOTH major parties are in the same position that the Democrats were in fifty years ago. They exist for the purpose of consolidating power. They are both driven by the furnace of Big Government.

Just as the Democrats warned Louisianans against "wasting their votes" on Republican candidates, both major parties now make that same argument against voting for third party candidates.

We are living in an exciting time. Independents and third party candidates are running strong races all over the country. More and more voters are recognizing that the name-your-poison, R vs. D game is a sham. Thanks in part to the internet, our political horizons are much broader than they were fifty years ago and the cycle of change in the political culture is much shorter.

The first step in providing a real challenge to the major parties is changing your party affiliation. Whether you register as an independent or as a Libertarian or as a member of some other third party, you will have freed yourself from the labeling system that both major parties want you to follow.

Then, educate yourself about all the candidates. Consider voting in the Libertarian primary. Each vote that is cast in the Libertarian primary will strengthen the position of third parties in Louisiana.

Finally, always vote your conscience. Remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil. Always look for a third, non-evil option.

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