As November approaches, Americans once again turn their thoughts toward whether we will elect a Republican, or a Democrat, to represent us in the White House, in the Congress and in the Senate. We have performed this very same exercise for decades.
Strangely, though, when you have the actual ballot before you, you'll notice that there are often more than two choices, especially for the office of President. There may be names you've never even heard before, candidates you haven't seen on live national TV in debates. They are the candidates of the "third parties" in our "two-party" system. The most prominent of these are the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties, all of whom have candidates running for President in this election, as does the new Justice Party.
Nebraska has consistently gone to every Republican Presidential candidate since 1968, and mostly for Republicans even before that. In 2008, McCain won Nebraska by a razor-thin margin of about 15 percent.
This year, the Republicans are running Mitt Romney - the guy who lost to the guy who lost to the guy they're trying to beat this time around. It is my belief that every Presidential candidate in the last three decades, from both major political parties, has been groomed and supported for candidacy and sold to the electorate, not on the basis of his political record or loyalty to party principles, but on the basis that he is deemed "most likely to succeed" by the kingmakers within his Party. Republicans in particular have seen many such candidates. You come across the term "RINO" rather frequently. The GOP keeps running RINO candidates because Republicans keep rewarding that choice with their vote, instead of punishing it by voting for another candidate.
I encourage Nebraskans to explore the political positions and philosophies of the various "third party" candidates, and to vote for one if his/her views more closely mirror your own than those of Romney or Obama. Very few will have the courage to do this. Few enough, in fact, that it is extremely unlikely to alter the course of the election, especially in Nebraska.
But it may be enough to alter the course of the Parties' candidate selection process.
Owen J. McPhillips