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Silencing the minority


Richard Prawdzienski March 8th, 2007

Will Ralph Nader run for president if the Democrats don't nominate the right candidate?   Will we, the people of Oklahoma, be allowed to vote for Nader or any other third-party candidate in the next p...

Will Ralph Nader run for president if the Democrats don't nominate the right candidate?
 
Will we, the people of Oklahoma, be allowed to vote for Nader or any other third-party candidate in the next presidential election? Probably not.
 
We didn't get to vote for any third-party candidates in 2004. No Nader for us. Nor did we have a choice of voting for Michael Badnarik, Walter Brown, David Cobb or Michael Peroutka. Just the usual gang of two: Republican or Democratic.
 
Why?
 
Because Oklahoma has one of the nation's toughest ballot-access laws, and our state legislators refuse to let ballot reform bills out of committee.
 
Do they fear that if we had third-party candidates on the ballot, it might cause their party to lose the election? Or, are they afraid that having more than two political parties might make us think?
 
I wonder, what don't they want us to think about? Maybe they just don't want us to wonder why on earth we would vote for either of the good-old-boy political parties if we actually had another choice.
 
Right now, we have a city election going on in Edmond, and the candidates are placing full-page ads in the papers. But what do the candidates truly stand for? All we get are slogans and sound bites. I feel the Edmond politicians are churning out the same type of uninformative catchphrases as the November general election politicians: "Protecting Our Values"; "Faith, Family, Freedom"; "Faith in Oklahoma." Is our two-party limit responsible for these slogan campaigns?
 
We need real change.
 
And, of course the candidates proclaim that they are "uniquely qualified," have the "ability to listen," are "accountable" and "committed," and on and on. No wonder when folks talk about politics, we hear phrases such as "just a choice between the lesser of two evils," "not a lick of difference between them," etc.
 
Meanwhile, voter turnout stays low, and folks wonder why.
 
Imagine if we changed our election process and we let Libertarian, Green, Socialist and Constitution Party members and others have a voice in the election and the political process.
 
Would all hell break loose? Would we have more young candidates like Edmond Ward 1 candidate Aaron Knight challenging archaic rules?
 
The competition would result in better government. And, possibly, more people would get interested in the election process and offer yet more competition, creating a cycle that would result in a more perfect union.
 
Open up the process, and maybe we'd start to ask questions like, what's the real difference between a Libertarian and a Republican or a Democrat? Why do both the Republicans and Democrats have a Libertarian caucus? Why is Al Gore taking possession of the Green Party's global-warming issue? Why is there a Democratic Socialists of America party, and why are so many college students joining? What are the real differences between the parties? Can we take the best from all?
 
Yes, we would have lots of questions. Would we get all confused and frustrated? I don't think so " I think we would be more informed, more involved and more active in our own government.
 
The present limited-ballot-access issue leads to a deeper question: Why are majority parties keeping the alternate national parties away from Oklahoma voters? Is it the American way " or the Oklahoma way " for a majority to silence a minority?
 
Could this be a question our present legislators don't want us to ask? - Richard Prawdzienski 
 
Prawdzienski is an Edmond resident.
 
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