Keep the LP Alive: Reply to Marley
by John K. Berntson, March 8, 2004 (posted)
Marley's article on my proposal is right on in many respects. Yes, the LP does have to compete in the political marketplace as it currently exists. And, yes, there is no evidence to suggest that proportional representation -- if that is what my system is -- would make the country any less collectivist than it is, even if some of "us" managed to get in.
But I was very specific in stating that it was not a serious proposal. There is simply no way we would ever get such a system enacted, either by referendum or initiative. Nor would it likely change all that much if we did.
Instead, I suggested that it could be held out to people -- you know, on those rare occasions when we actually get to speak to strangers -- as an example of a system that would represent everyone, rather than the 60% or so of voters who are currently represented by someone they voted for. Get people to question our current system, see that there might be better ones available, and they may question all sorts of other things. Indeed, it is the belief that democracy, of whatever flavor, constitutes the moral authority to control others, that has led us to the problems we have now.
As to Marley's belief that the LP's only goal is to elect people to office and that, failing the commitment to get that done, we are worthless (my words), well, I know exactly how he feels, but he is mistaken. Victory might be had for the simple price of getting enough consistent votes for our platform that a major party enacts some of our planks to get our voters. That worked for the Socialist Party. Another possibility is that, by providing a framework for a party and enough volunteers to keep it alive, we might be positioned to respond quickly if a major party collapses in crisis, as happened to the Whigs.
Obviously, the more campaigns we run, the more votes we get, and the more effective and professional our candidates, the better we will be in reaching any and all of those goals. Debating society? Sure, sometimes. But if we think that merely doing what the major parties do will put us in power -- I assume that is what Clark wants the LP to do -- against the vested interests of the two-party monopoly, then we are being naive. Even if we came to power, nothing would likely change, unless first the people understood exactly what had to change and why.
So, we have a lot of people to talk to, a lot of minds to change. The only question is, will it happen with Clark Marley's help? Or without?
John K. Berntson