A third way
A third party vote is a meaningful protest against the status quo
Imagine being woken up at 6 a.m. by the sound of your door being blown off the hinges, a hand grenade being thrown into your house and a team of soldiers rushing in with their rifles drawn. If your dog barks at these men, it will be shot without hesitation. You might be killed too, should anything surprise one of the soldiers pointing their guns at you.
That kind of scenario plays out frequently every year in the United States, often against unarmed civilians and sometimes against people who have broken no laws. Many of these raids are related to the War on Drugs, though increasingly, paramilitary teams are used to serve basic search-and-arrest warrants.
Strangely, this issue has not been mentioned by the major party candidates. It has not come up during the Obama-Romney debates, nor during the Biden-Ryan debate. The only debates where this issue was even discussed were the third party debates, where most of the candidates took an end-the-drug-war stance.
There are a number of issues that neither Obama nor Romney have been willing to mention. The United States arrests and imprisons more of its citizens than any other country — yes, that includes China. It has been noted that if everyone who is arrested were to exercise their right to a trial, the justice system would be completely overwhelmed and unable to handle that load. Neither major party candidate is willing to discuss that, even when they try to portray themselves as attempting to help the working class — who are the most likely to be arrested. Neither Obama nor Romney is willing to discuss the use of drones to kill U.S. citizens who were nowhere near any battlefield. Obama promised a more transparent government, then held one of the most aggressive crackdowns on whistleblowers in U.S. history.
Romney does not seem to be interested in pointing out the disparity between Obama’s 2008 promises and his four years in office — perhaps because Romney also broke his 2002 campaign promises when he was governor of Massachusetts. Obama signed a law recently that allows the government to imprison Americans indefinitely without a trial, yet the Romney campaign is not willing to call out Obama on such a basic civil rights issue.
One of the techniques magicians use is “misdirection” — distracting the audience while some part of a trick is manipulated. Something similar seems to be happening with the major party candidates. We are told over and over by those candidates and by the media that supports them that certain issues should be considered priorities, to the point where we forget the issues that affect us in more direct and harmful ways. I certainly support the idea that gays should have the right to marry someone they love, but I do not think that issue can be considered more important than the use of paramilitary teams to arrest non-violent suspects. If the Democrats want to claim they are champions of health care, why did they not use the same trick to create a public option that was used to give the government the power to violate our right to a trial?
What the major party candidates refuse to say tells us more about what they will do if elected than what they are willing to say. After all, people think about and discuss what the candidates say — and which major party would want people to think about or discuss the fact that we spend more on our military during times of peace than countries that are actually in states of war? The major party candidates want us to narrow our field of view until we think that they represent vastly different approaches to government; we should know better.
Voting for a candidate because he is “not as bad” as another candidate is just silly. There are more than two candidates in this election. Why vote for the lesser of two evils, when you could choose to not vote for evil at all? A vote for a third party is not a waste; it is a vote for meaningful change.
Benjamin Kreuter is a graduate student in the department of computer science.