Thursday, June 30, 2016

Green Party vs. Libertarian Party

As the Democrats and Republicans vie for the top spot among American political parties, there are several other political parties, collectively called "third" parties, presumably because, frankly, they'll never be first or second. The two most prominent of these third parties are, I believe, the Libertarian Party and the Green Party.

I'm not a big fan of party politics, but these two parties and their tactics are kind of fascinating to me, in the same way it's fascinating to watch a bug struggling in vain to escape a spider's web. The Green and Libertarian parties seem to primarily be mostly-ineffective spoilers to the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively (with the notable exception of Ralph Nader in Florida in the 2000 election), but I don't think they have to be.

The Green Party is mostly compared to the Democratic Party, though in practice the Democratic Party is more like the Republican Party than it is like the Green Party. Where the Democrats are lukewarm toward and hesitant to support liberal policies, the Green Party revels in it. And, of course, the Green Party gets its name from its heavy focus on environmentalism. I wouldn't call the Green Party radical, but they are certainly unconventional. They are overtly in favor of a more involved and powerful national government, especially for the purpose of enforcing stricter environmental regulations. I think there are a lot of people who would be more into the Green Party if they were more aware of them. Especially as the Democrats shift more to the center, less-moderate liberals are finding themselves without a party that represents them.

The Libertarian Party, meanwhile, is generally compared to the Republican Party. Currently, Libertarians are branding themselves as fiscally conservative, but more socially liberal than the Republicans. As the Republicans shift further to the right, moderate conservatives are finding themselves being torn between the Democrats and Republicans, and to some the Libertarians might start looking appealing. The defining feature of Libertarians, which informs both their fiscal conservatism and their social liberalism, is the idea that government should stay out of people's lives, both business and personal.

One problem that both of these third parties face is that they both compare themselves to the major parties, while the major parties only acknowledge and compare themselves to each other. The problem is that the third parties are up against parties that are in completely different league than they are. Their contest is not, in fact, a contest at all. To use my extremely non-existent knowledge of baseball, minor league teams don't generally compete against major league teams. It's just unfair. There's no drama.

Instead, I think it would behoove the Libertarian and Green parties to turn their attention toward each other.

Suddenly, the contest isn't framed as being between, say, the Republicans (the clear winners) and the Libertarians (the clear losers). Instead, people actually have to choose a side between two far more disparate parties: the pro-government intervention for the sake of the planet Green Party versus the anti-government for the sake of our personal liberties Libertarians.

Suddenly, this is a contest you can see yourself having stakes in. This is a battle more equal in weight class. And, by comparing themselves to each other, they'll be assessed on their own merits, rather than "like Democrats/Republicans, but..."

In effect, at first, it will become a battle to see which party is truly The Third Party, as they vie for prominence within their own league. But then, over time, as people become more invested in these parties, perhaps eventually they can rise into the major leagues.

It may be hopeless, but it is my dream to see us break free from the two-party system some day; to leave behind this binary view of politics and move to a system that's at least a little more stratified.

There are many barriers in place to prevent that, of course. (The Electoral College comes to mind.) But maybe, hopefully, slowly, patiently, the system can change.

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