Nader representative speaks on the flaws of a two-party system

Maggie Waz

To some voters, Ralph Nader may be a permanent and inevitably nonessential presidential candidate, forgotten in the frenzy of a tight race between Republicans and Democrats. To allay this sentiment, Ashley Sanders, a representative from the Nader/Gonzalez campaign, came to Lawrence last week Friday and provided more information on the lesser-known candidates as part of an event hosted by the Lawrence University Progressive Union of Students, a group formerly known as the Students for Leftist Action.
Sanders explained the problems of a two-party system and how those problems propel a machine that cannot be stopped.
Third-party campaigns face a number of hurdles during the primaries and the general-election season. Countless days are spent gathering signatures in every state to meet requirements that will put a candidate on a ballot. Each state requires a different number of signatures, and some signatures are thrown out as invalid.
Sanders used Texas as an example of a state with a high hurdle to overcome. She indicated that Texas requires 175,000 signatures, all from citizens who did not vote in the primaries.
Because of this law, Nader is only on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Another pressing problem for third-party candidates is lack of participation in presidential debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates refuses to let a third-party candidate debate unless he or she draws 15-percent of the vote in three different national polls.
Sanders called this a Catch-22 because a candidate cannot muster 15 percent without representation in debates and the media. Many voters are therefore left in the dark about candidates’ platforms. They may know who Ralph Nader is or that he is running for president, but it is more difficult for them to find out what he stands for.
Sanders said we should also consider the people and corporations who fund the campaigns of our presidential candidates. Sanders argued that if the same corporations fund the campaigns of all Democrats, the ability of that candidate to make changes that we have not seen before is severely crippled.
In this case, the changes a voter hopes for take a backseat to the desires of those corporations. It is money that drives these campaigns, and that influence does not disappear once a candidate takes office.
Sanders concluded that by voting within the two-party system we are electing the same people, perpetually funded by corporations with the resources and lobbyists to push their agendas through smoothly.