With less than sixty days left until the 2008 presidential election, Congressman Ron Paul has thrown down an interesting challenge to the electorate: if you want change, then vote for a third party. Ron Paul, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican Party nomination, announced yesterday that he will not endorse either major party candidate and has thrown his support instead behind four other third party candidates: Ralph Nader (independent), Bob Barr (Libertarian Party), Cynthia McKinney (Green Party), and Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party). Nader, McKinney, and Baldwin appeared at Paul's news conference but Barr did not.
I have never bought the whole "voting for a third party is throwing your vote away" idea. Having never voted for any of the top two candidates in the presidential elections I have participated in has given me the perspective of constantly criticizing both parties. It has always bothered me how when one side wins an election, they go to sleep and ignore the shortcomings and illegal acts of their candidate while in office because, hey, they're on our side. Where were the "not in my name" crowd when Clinton bombed Kosovo? Probably in the same place where the other side was when Bush, Jr. flew onto the aircraft carrier and proclaimed "Mission Accomplished."
Once again, the American public at large believes this election to be a binary choice after having the folk tale of Nader costing Gore the 2000 Election drummed into our heads for the past 8 years. The media does not see yesterday's news conference as newsworthy, choosing instead to wallow in yellow "he said-she said" journalism. This only makes me think about "throwing my vote away" even more. To be honest, I will give the two major party candidates a chance and will watch the upcoming debates with great interest. That being said, the other candidates will be excluded from them, as they are sponsored by the Commission On Presidential Debates, a nonprofit group run by both major parties.
While you may support one major party candidate over another, I, for one, continue to reserve my right to dissent until I literally enter the voting booth. I urge anyone within visual range of my typed words to take a step back with me and watch the remainder of this election and the ensuing media coverage as a detached critical observer. As Johnny Rotten once said: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"