Do you think that most United State's citizens are really independent?

@ulalume (714)
United States
January 19, 2009 7:28am CST
I will be honest, the past election was difficult for me to swallow. Seeing as I am freshly eighteen, and this was the first time I voted in an election, I feel my opinion on politics can now hold more ground than in the past when I was basically a sheep to my families opinions. In my search for a proper candidate, I began noticing from the two front runners (McCain and Obama), that they were both just saying what they NEEDED to say politically (in order to acquire votes). My main concern is that the United State's functions in such a way that only the rich are capable of running for President, and that only two people out of the many that live on this land mass have the opportunity to run every four years. I found myself ultimately voting for Bob Barr (libertarian party) on the account that he was who I found myself most aligning with politically, despite being aware that the likeliness of a win on his part was nearly beyond a possibility. So, amidst this I began to really wonder after reading his political stances (on his website, at the time) and watching interviews (and ultimately seeing how he was about giving everyone civil rights, unlike the government of the moment which is more about taking them away): Do you think most United State's citizens find themselves in the middle ground? Do you really feel that the extremities of the Republican and Democratic parties are the best bet, for most citizens? I am not really here to "bash" anyone who voted either of these parties, but if you did: why? Do you feel there needs to be a reform of some type to allow other candidates to run for office more easily? To me, it was not a matter of who will win the election, but the fact that Bob Barr was barred from his opportunity to run on account of insufficient funs (and his role in the libertarian party altogether) kind of sickens me. I even recall that he was not allowed to join in the debates. Is this truly one of the greatest evils the United States has inflicted on itself? Not allowing its own people to run for President, just because they align themselves differently? To not even be given the opportunity to get his name out there (and opinions in the debate) is beyond me. What are your feelings?
2 people like this
7 responses
@xfahctor (14131)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
19 Jan 09
I supported and voted for Chuck Baldwin, constitution party, though I felt Barr did ok in the 3rd party debate I saw. You support and vote for who you think is best for the job, not who "can win". The only reason other parties have such a difficult time is that people fall in to the herd/flock mentality and vote D or R because they "can win". If everyone I evr saw say, "well, I like them, but they can't win", actully supported another party and voted that way, it would send the media a loud message. The 2 big parties and the media are heavily vested in each other. TO break the stranglehold, it's going to take massive effort from us, the people.
2 people like this
@ulalume (714)
• United States
20 Jan 09
I feel the same way as you, definitly. People do flock around "winning" candidates as so many people feel it is pointless to vote for someone they know is going to lose. Even as I stood in line and finally got into the voting booth I was ranting in my mind, should I really vote for Bob Barr? Knowing he is most likely going to lose? I decided then to vote my soul, which inadvertantly required me pressing the button for Barr. He was the only candidate I was really "comfortable" with.
@Taskr36 (13925)
• United States
19 Jan 09
Sadly, it's not the government that was Bob Barr's biggest obstacle. He was on the vast majority of ballots, 47 states if I remember correctly. Money was only part of his problem. His real enemy was the media. The media controls what we see and hear. This year the media made sure we saw the best of Obama and the worst of McCain. The only thing worse than showing the worst of a candidate is not showing a candidate at all. The media chose the front runners early on. People who the media deemed "unworthy" were shut down. This unworthiness was not limited to third parties. People like Ron Paul, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel ran for major party tickets and were shut out completely by the media. Most people didn't even know who Joe Biden was until Obama picked him as a running mate. The "thinking" public makes many decision based on debates, debates which third parties are kept out of entirely. The last time a third party candidate was allowed in a major debate was 1992 and that was only because George H.W. Bush INSISTED that Ross Perot be allowed at the debates (even though it cost him the election). The last time before that was when Reagan ran against Carter in 1980. Carter refused to attend the first debate with Reagan so independent John Anderson took his place. Reagan then insisted that Anderson be allowed in the remaining debates but Carter refused to participate in any debate if Anderson were there. The second debate was canceled and Anderson was subsequently uninvited from the third debate so Carter would attend. When McCain suspended his campaign to work on the bailout Bob Barr made an attempt to replace him in the first debate against Obama, but the media wouldn't dare let that happen. They wouldn't even entertain the thought. They made it clear that if McCain didn't show up it would just be an Obama love-fest where he could preach to the people at the debate. with no opposition. So there you have it. In my opinion your biggest opponent is not the government, or even money. It's the media. They control what people see and hear and more importantly they control what people will NEVER see or hear. I only hope that this will change over time with the internet becoming more popular.
2 people like this
@ulalume (714)
• United States
20 Jan 09
I agree with you. While I do think that some of the problem lies in the government and with money issues, the media not allowing third-party candidates to have the simple right of debating in a public forum is fairly disheartening. It bothers me that a man is allowed to be on most ballots around the country, but everyone continually walks into the voter booth without a clue as to who the individuals are except two. The worst part is I can't just blame it on voter ignorance (though, this is part of the problem. In the age of the computer where information is so readily accessible, it is completely ignorant of many voters to just turn off this information source. It is truly laziness), because the media is running the show a majority of the time.
1 person likes this
@rsa101 (15541)
• Quezon City, Philippines
20 Jan 09
Well try visiting and participating in an election here in the Philippines. We are but a small country and yet we could not manage to make our election credible at all. More often our election are always smeared by many scandals and politicking. I admire you voting system there in the US. It is fast and swift plus the fact the political opponents do make end their battle after the counting is done. In here it is so chaotic that every candidate will have to file complaints of cheating and protest here and there. And even the president is already at her last year of the term her winning the election is still being questioned about the legality of her being proclaimed. I think there is not better model about electoral system but in your country. As to whether who can run I guess its a matter of reality. Those that can lead the nation and can manage to survive campaigning nationwide can run. You cannot run if you don't have the support of the majority of the people.
1 person likes this
@ulalume (714)
• United States
20 Jan 09
Let me start by saying, thanks for your input! It has alot of value considering your viewing our world from the Philippines. The problem with our "leaders" is the fact that the "support" is directly related to which party a person is running out of. By being a candidate on the republican or democratic ballot, these candidates instantly have a built in fan-base just because they are a "republican" or "democrat." The biggest problem with this is it only allows two people to really have a say, when it comes down to it. From what it sounds, this is better than your countries system; but it still lacks in so many ways.
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@rsa101 (15541)
• Quezon City, Philippines
20 Jan 09
Believe me we are in a multi-party system anyone can organized their own party and look at what mess are we in our political system. There is really no platform of goverment being formed because of these. Politicians are either transferring from one party to the other just because in the party they belong they are not given the chance to run. I guess whether you have a bipartisan or multi partisan party the results are the same. Given enough choice I guess is not the answer but an organized platform of part is much more important to me. In your case and independent can run but the chances are very slim for him to win. In our case there is an emerging trend that despite our adopting the mutliparty system political parties in the end tend to merge into one and in finality when it comes to prsidential election the outcome is there is two or three that comes out dominant in the campaign period. So I guess the system is just the same.
2 people like this
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
20 Jan 09
Hello Rsa101, Thank you for sharing the Phillipino experience with multi-party elections. The phenomenon that you've described is similarly repeated throughout the Western world. What's even more troubling is the multi-party systems that ends up positioning three or four parties with very similar levels of representation, where the infighting and subsequent politicking ends up being twice as prevelent (and troublesome) as with a straight two-party system. If given the choice, I would much prefer non-party affiliated elections, where each candidate has to run on their own platform, or the perpetuation of the two-party system where the "primary" is fully open, and all on one day. That way all party candidates would have a level playing field, and as the candidates emerge as primary victors, the associated "party" can be buoyed with the candidate. Suffice it to say that I deem it simply pragmatic to support as few parties as necessary, as long as the dominance of either leading party is subject to substitution through a fair primary system. When all is said and done, the primaries are where the real elimation takes place. Of course, as long as the two dominant parties are paying for those primaries, as in the case of the USA, they are going to do everything in their power to protect their own party power base. We The People have the power to convert our systems to open primaries. Until that happens, we're all going to be subject to corrupt elections. Thanks again for sharing, it was very informative to learn that these problems do seem to be universal.
2 people like this
• United States
19 Jan 09
Most of the problem is the american people think they only have two choices, either democrat or republican. THey feel third partys are a waste of a vote.SO those are the only ones they really look at. Plus the two parties do not want the third party candidates to get a chance so they do things like make sure they are not invited to the debates. They do not want to give them any media time. They do not want people to know there are more choices out there. The two major parties do everything they can to marginalize third party candidates. But that is changing slowly but surely.Especially with the internet. Personally I feel all candidates should get the same amount of money to run their campaigns on. That way it is not whoever comes up with the most money wins (buying the election in my opinion). Also third party candidates really need to step up and get out there. Let people know who htey are and what they stand for. Not just come election time but all the time. Give the poeple a chance to get to know them, become comfortable with them and get curious enough to find out more about them.
1 person likes this
@ulalume (714)
• United States
22 Jan 09
That would certainly change things, hopefully for the better. In a way, I have mixed feelings about it. I feel like if you have the money, you should be using it to better your race; but, if the money difference is so extreme (like in the case of Obama and McCain) than it just becomes hard to see both sides. I suppose capping the salary would be the best, but I can imagine alot of other people getting out and spreading the word. Maybe thats how it should be, though. The citizens of the United States should be the ones passing the word along, more so than the ones running for the presidency.
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
19 Jan 09
Hello Ulalume, Great discussion! The 'two party system' has been failing the USA for a very, very long time. However, we cannot have reasonably informed voting until we have reasonably informed voters. Unfortunately, the 'education', albeit horribly skewed, of those voters remains incumbent upon the parties, because 'education' is expensive -- as every tax payer knows -- grrrr! And, we are not providing an adequate education to our youth to expect them to make wise critical decisions, or to typically have even a rudimentary knowledge of Economics and Civics. It is inherent within the Human species for people to seek the short-cut, find the easy way, etc... As such, it is contrary to Human nature to expect every voter to perform their own due diligence. It remains the nature of the Human voter to assess the candidates based on the information that comes their way with the least amount of effort on their part -- the path of least resistance. Years ago I used to blame the uninformed/underinformed voter for not performing his or her due diligence. As the years have come and gone, I have ceased blaming the voter for being un/underinformed. Instead, I believe that we need to explore ways to adapt the system so that it functions WITHIN the confines of Human nature. If people are too busy to perform political due diligence, (And who can blame them, right? We really are busy, aren't we?) then we ought not impose a 'duty' upon them to make the choice to either commit the time to adequate due diligence, or to vote un/underinformed. Do we want ignorant personnel working in our hospitals? Do we want ignorant teachers teaching our students? Do we want ignorant engineers designing our transportation options? If ignorance is unacceptable in professional life, why is ignorance acceptable in determining the course of our nation? My proposed solution remains a simple, basic competency test to determine eligibility for our votes to count. If someone demonstrates that he or she is so un/underinformed about the issues and candidates that his or her vote would be indicative of that voter having been 'told' how to vote (where the teller actually gets two votes vs. the one that is legally designated as a 'right') then that vote should be extracted from the pool of eligible votes. Specifically, a short (approx. 10 question quiz) would preceed the actual voter ballot. If a designated pass rate is not achieved, the ballot would be tabulated as a verifiable 'extraction' from the eligible votes. I will say that this idea is generally met with great resistence. Though, it is typically not those who have effectively demonstrated that they are willing to perform political due diligence prior to castng a vote who object. Instead, it has been my experience that those who only engage the political process once every four years are the most vocal opponents to this suggestion. What does that say? In enacting a system such as the one as described above, we'd see an NEA about-face as it relates to the actual teaching of our youth in the public school system. Imagine how quickly Economics, History and Civics would be re-embraced! Once we have an educated electorate, the prospect of Third Parties, or no party affiliation elections might become a possibility. Until then, the two parties will continue to dominate! As long as that is the reality, then I believe it is far, far better to re-shape the two parties from within. Fighting from the outside simply tips the scales to one party or the other -- and quite typically to an undesired net effect. Namely, Ross Perot's third party run had a distinct effect on the election -- not the desired outcome for those who voted for him -- I know because I was one of them. Similarly, the same can be said for the Barr voters. They cast a vote that bore a very specific net result -- and that result was definitely not in getting Barr elected. There are consequences to each and every action!
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
19 Jan 09
Silly me, I forgot to answer your primary question. Do I think that most voters are independent? No, I don't. I believe that most voters fall into specific 'values' camps. They choose a party that claims to most represent those values, and then they typically vote that same party for decades, if not generations, despite that undeniable truth that the values of those parties change with each respective change of leadership. To be more specific: Independence is not the natural condition for the majority of Human Beings. We are a pack animal species, with a pack animal mentality.
@Rakshas (223)
• India
20 Jan 09
Yes, I do think most of the United States people or public are independent to do there work.Atleast from India United States is very developed.So I think the people in United States are more independent that India.
@smartie0317 (1612)
• United States
19 Jan 09
I understand what you mean, but I don't agree. A long time ago, when this country was still very young. I'm believing Lincoln was the last president, and the reason it stop, anyone could run for president. You still had to be rich, though. Anyway, due to there being so many parties and canidates, very few people had to vote for you to become president. So, now, we have the parties we have and the electorial college. I don't think it's perfect, but I think more people get a say then they would otherwise.