The Impotent American Voter

Our great-great-grandfathers, if they were American voters, enjoyed greater opportunity to change policy with their votes than we do today. It is a paradox that as the number of Americans permitted to vote has increased over the past century, the power of those votes has diminished. Many legislators and judges, in their hearts, do not really believe that the voters know best, and they have curtailed certain kinds of voting rights that Americans formerly exercised. The rights of American voters to organize new political parties, and to vote for candidates of their choice, are weaker today than they were 70 years ago.

Recently, voters in Canada, Russia, Japan, and Western and Central Europe created new political parties and either voted them into power or gave them the status of dominant opposition parties. What would happen if the voters of the United States created a new political party and tried to vote it into power? If the new political party were created during an even-numbered year, voters would learn that, in many states, it could not even get on the ballot, no matter how much popular support it had.

The Republican Party was founded on July 6, 1854. During the autumn 1854 elections, the Republican Party elected more members to the U.S. House, and more state governors, than any other party. That was how American voters of the 19th century told the government to change direction. The same is true today in most other...

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