There are more than 50 political parties in the United States. Sadly, most of the country only recognizes two of them.
Even more depressing is the fact that in 2013, there's precious little difference between the two major political parties.
Sure, Democrats and Republicans tend to stick to their respective party lines while on the campaign trail. Once in office, however, the similarities are as predictable as Navy blue blazers, white shirts and red power ties.
By the way, most of these suits are empty ones.
Two decades ago, the 41st U.S. president, George H.W. Bush, signed the Copenhagen Document of the Helsinki Accords that states, in part:
• (7.5) – Respect the right of citizens to seek political or public office, individually or as representatives of political parties or organizations, without discrimination; and,
• (7.6) – Respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political parties or other political organizations and provide such political parties and organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and by the authorities.
In other words, it stands to reason that since the two major political parties have ballot access without as many restrictions, the new "third-party" or "fourth-party candidates should also enjoy equal protection under the law to seek ballot access without excessive restrictions.
In the Volunteer State of Tennessee, three of these lesser known parties – the Constitution Party, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party have worked to compile and draft the FREEDOM (Fiscally Responsible Equal Election Diversification Optimization Measures) ACT.
The FREEDOM Act is being proposed to protect the rights of everyone in Tennessee.
According to the document, which is available at the Libertarian Party of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County website:
The FREEDOM ACT accomplishes the following objectives:
• It fosters and encourages a free-market of political ideas.
• It honors and recognizes the independent spirit that carved Tennessee out of the wilderness of western North Carolina.
• It offers a clear way to reduce the role of government and increase individual freedom.
• It reduces the costs of government associated with ballot access.
• It respects the rights of individuals to be associated with a political party of their own choosing.
• It clarifies for voters with which party candidates are really associated instead of falsely labeling then as “Independent” candidates.
• It allows Tennessee to have fair and equal elections instead of oppressive and discriminatory elections.
• It helps improve restrictive ballot access conditions in the United States.
• It allows the Tennessee Legislature, rather than an unelected federal judge, to decide what the ballot access rules in Tennessee should be.
• It sets an example for other states to follow and establishes Tennessee as a leader in promoting free and equal elections.
• It advances freedom, justice, and equality.
Today, many U.S. states are placing obstacles in the paths of so-called third-party candidates.
Here in Ohio, we have Senate Bill 193. Some people call SB 193 the Republican Party's "re-election protection bill."
The Republican Party in Ohio currently enjoys the governor's seat, majorities in the state House and Senate, a majority on the Ohio Supreme Court, and Republicans in the offices of secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general and auditor. In other words, it's a state that helped elect President Obama. Go figure.
According to an online report at www.plunderbund.com, "Ohio’s Republicans have been in a hurry to pass SB 193 … to provide election law for so-called 'minor' parties in Ohio. The bill passed out of the Senate two weeks ago and the House is planning to hold hearings this week. SB 193 would change Ohio election rules for minor parties nine months into a two-year election cycle – but rules for Republicans and Democrats would remain the same."
The report, by Dennis Spisak, 2010 Green Party candidate for governor, added:
• SB 193 would remove minor party access to the 2014 ballot immediately, erasing the months of work candidates have already put in organizing the campaigns and collecting signatures to get on the ballot.
• SB 193 would erase the party registrations of thousands of Ohioans who voted for minor party candidates in 2010 and 2012 and severely restrict any chances any minor party would have to participate in future elections. This bill would punish minor party candidates and supporters.
• SB 193 would require minor parties to gather at least 60,000 valid signatures to be on the ballot for statewide office. Republicans and Democrats would still only be required to obtain 1,000 valid signatures to place a candidate on the ballot for any statewide office.
While Republicans seem to like Glenn Beck and The Blaze when it suits their political agenda, they probably won't like this from www.theblaze.com: "Gary Daniels, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, told a state Senate committee last week that the proposed petition requirements are onerous for third parties and that the changes come too close to the 2014 election, especially for candidates who are collecting signatures for office."
If there's one thing that the two major political parties despise more than each other, it's the possibility of any third-party candidate removing them from political office.
As a means to thwart such a possibility, many of the states' Republicans and Democrats are willing to go along with the implementation of rules to inhibit these minor parties.
Today's biggest fear (among the establishment) across the U.S. is that the Taxed-Enough Already (TEA) Party or Libertarian Party candidates will have equal access at the ballot box.
It appears such "rabble-rousers" are among the nation's only people against whom discriminatory practices are not only acceptable, but encouraged.
This nation could use a few more of these rabble-rousers and a few less career politicians.
Rory Ryan is Senior Editor, North American Desk, at Paperitalo Publications and the owner of The Highland County Press in Hillsboro, Ohio. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.