Over 2,500 years ago in the small city state of Athens, an idea was born that would change the world forever. The citizens of Athens decided that the people should have a say in their government. Utilizing a simple system of colored stones, white for yes, black for no, they created the world's first democracy.
Centuries later, the very same ideas that lit the fires of freedom in ancient Greece would spawn a republic called the United States of America, and give us the system of government we have today.
Our government was designed to be ruled by the people through their elected representatives, chosen by a free and open election process. We have had our bumps and bruises, but our principles as a people have evolved and shed the prejudices of the past that disenfranchised some of our citizens, including women and minorities, and prevented them from having their voices heard.
Something else that evolved with our government was political parties. These organizations were developed to influence government based on their views of local, state, and federal policy. Today, we have two major parties which dominate the political landscape and they leave little room for competition. This would be acceptable if they allowed a fair opportunity for others to field the election process, but in many states they do not.
In Pennsylvania, candidates running as Democrats or Republicans have an unfair advantage over independent or third party challengers. While the major party candidates are only required to gather 2,000 signatures for statewide candidates, everyone else must gather a percentage of the total votes cast in the last election. This year, that number was slightly over 20,000 signatures, however, in some years, the total number can exceed 60,000 required signatures.
In spite of this inequality, the Libertarian Party gathered over 50,000 petition signatures for their statewide candidates, including their presidential candidate, Gary Johnson. Immediately after filing these petitions, a Republican backed challenge was issued forcing the Libertarians to defend their signatures in court.
Flush with money, the major party challenger racks up huge legal fees and costs associated with the challenge and usually offers to drop their suit in the hopes that the much smaller and resource poor third party will withdraw from the race. This can be a tantalizing offer when the outcome is not guaranteed due to the ridiculous standards which are applied to scrutinizing each signature.
What should anger every liberty-loving American is the way in which two political parties have hi-jacked our electoral system to give themselves an advantage over a free, equal, and fair election process where everyone gets a voice and the people are given a true choice, not one pre-selected for them by Democrats and Republicans.
It's time to give Pennsylvanians the choices they deserve at the ballot box. Support third party and independent candidates, and end the two-party duopoly by demanding equal ballot access for all candidates from your elected representatives.
Timothy L Havener
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom