It is a statement that illustrates the level of brainwashing that has afflicted an unfortunate number of longtime GOP and Democratic Party supporters. “A vote for anyone other than (insert their respective candidate here) is a vote for (insert the opposing major party candidate here).” This is essentially translated as, “If you vote for a third party candidate, you are wasting your vote.”
When I am told this, read about it or hear it, I feel extremely insulted. A true wasted vote is casting your support for what you deem as the lesser of two evils. That is especially evident in the current special election in District 13 to fill the Congressional seat formerly occupied by the late C.W. Bill Young. Former lobbyist David Jolly is running as a Republican while Democrat Alex Sink is trying to gain a political career that nearly launched when she narrowly lost to Rick Scott in the last Gubernatorial election. Both are enslaved to special interest groups, are supported by multi-million campaigns and appear to be partisan political puppets who will not be willing to work with the other party if they win on March 11.
A credible argument can be made that a vote for Jolly or Sink is a wasted vote since both candidates represent the status quo political establishment that has created the lack of trust we have with Washington D.C. Repeating the same ill-fated decision time and time again and expecting different results is insanity.
According to a Gallup poll conducted last year, 60 percent of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties represent the American people so poorly that a third major party is needed. In the 10-year history of asking that question, 10 percent is the highest mark Gallup has measured. The same poll indicated that new low of 26 percent believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.
I posed a question earlier this month to an editor at a local political website operated by a major media outlet about why a particular article about the Congressional District 13 special election was posted, an article which excludes Libertarian Lucas Overby’s candidacy in the race, saying that it is between David Jolly and Alex Sink. The editor did not address that question but did respond with a positive comment that monumentally illustrates what differentiates Overby from Jolly and Sink. “Personally, I haven’t heard him make attacks on the other candidates or say anything that struck me as factually dubious.”
If you reside in Pinellas County, you know from all of the hate mail littering your mailbox (where Jolly and Sink say little or nothing about their own ideas and solutions, instead opting to bash and discredit the other) that Jolly and Sink cannot make the same claim.
Overby has said that “when we started this campaign, we set out to work with voters who had given up, who had stopped voting because they felt like they had been left out. At the end of the day, I think what is even more powerful is how all of you have responded to someone so different from the norm. It screams of wanting something different, of being tired of the same old song and dance. This has never been about Republican or Democrat or even about Libertarian, this has been about us wanting to represent our neighbors.”
I’m one of those disenfranchised individuals who has supported Libertarian, Democrat and Republican candidates over the years, but lost interest in the political process long ago – until listening to Overby speak. What is especially exciting about this race is the fact that Overby is a credible, intelligent, level-headed and articulate candidate who is not the frightening extremist that has defined many third parties in previous elections. Overby is real. He is respectful to his opponents, he reinforces his ideas with solutions (and not just empty comments) and he inspires people who otherwise would not want to be involved in the political process because he takes the time to talk to people – whether it be on the phone, in person or through social media. How many Congressional candidates do you know will show a genuine interest in your questions?
Many people do not even bother to vote because they feel left out and that the two parties do not care about them. In most cases, they are unfortunately right. Yet, for the first time in a prominent election, a third party candidate has a legitimate chance to win.
While Jolly and Sink spew vitriol instead of emphasizing their own viewpoints, Overby remains respectful, sticks to his platform and has shown a commitment to reaching as many citizens as possible.
While Sink and Jolly have repeatedly ignored or cancelled community forums – Jolly even cancelled an appearance at the last minute – Overby has attended every event to which he has been invited.
Overby already became the first Libertarian to be included in a nationally televised debate, one which he was overwhelmingly voted the winner by Bay News 9 viewers. He can make more history and impact the future of American politics if he becomes the first Libertarian to win a Congressional seat.
It is evident that many Americans are disgusted with the two-party system and recognize that Republicans and Democrats are virtually indistinguishable. Many voters know that, by sending Jolly or Sink to Washington, that there will likely be more of the same.
In the Growth and Opportunity Project, which was spearheaded by the RNC, the report concluded that two reasons why the public has a poor perception of the GOP are that it is a party of “stuffy old men” with “stale policies” that have remained unchanged since the Reagan years.
Jolly has said that he will work with Democrats and Republicans alike to get results. Yet that is highly unlikely, especially in the wake of Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis recently losing a leadership post because he crossed party lines and voted to stop flood insurance rate hikes. Sink is firmly entrenched with party beliefs that reinforce President Barack Obama’s platform.
Overby is not tied to special interest groups, graduated Cum Laude from the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg and has an extensive experience as an activist for women’s groups. He also founded Take a District, a nonpartisan group that promotes voter education and political involvement among young adults.
The tired, “Don’t vote for a third party because it is a wasted vote” comment invented by Republicans and Democrats is not valid in this race. Overby has a chance to win as his grassroots campaign rapidly gains momentum, and Jolly and Sink continue to bombard households with negative ads while limiting the number of candidate forums where they meet with voters with Overby present.
Of course Republicans and Democrats are going to discourage voters from supporting a third party candidate. After all, the emergence of a third party would break the stranglehold narrow partisanship has on government.
In many cases, potential voters are dissuaded from supporting a third party candidate by believing in the polls, perhaps not recognizing that there is a built-in bias in polling. Often, Libertarian Party candidates are excluded from polls, and pollsters focus on the Democratic and GOP candidates while solely inquiring with people who have a documented record of supporting Democrats and Republicans.
An Overby victory would be one of the most historically significant events in modern American politics because it would enhance the financial backing, media coverage and public perception of the Libertarian Party, opening the door for more Libertarian candidates to win elections. A strong third party would be instrumental in reshaping the current political climate since the other two parties would have no choice but to work across party lines to actually produce results.
Perhaps you are adamant about voting a straight party line and have already made up your mind about supporting Jolly or Sink. This is America, where we have the freedom to elect the candidate of our choice, so that is your justifiable right. If you are repulsed by Jolly and Sink, and are contemplating sitting out the March 11 special election, consider the alternative. Learn about Overby by visiting his website and reading the media coverage to date. Attend one of the upcoming candidate forums. Watch the upcoming debate televised by PBS affiliate WEDU.
A broken two-party system will not change unless Americans voice their viewpoints by casting their votes for a credible third party candidate. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a long step forward can take place on March 11.