Creating A Credible Third Party (The FSP Story)
|Title:||Creating A Credible Third Party (The FSP Story)|
Creating A Credible Third Party
by Victoria Stockman 02/17/04
(The FSP Story)
For many first time voters, having the right to vote is not as exciting as the milestone would suggest. In addition to the political scandals that fly in the face of many congressmen and senators, choosing a republican or a democratic candidate for office is often no real choice at all.
"We need a fresh face in the two-party system," said 26 year old Justin Soma. "The Republicans, which have traditionally been the party of smaller government have abandoned that with George Bush. He loves big government spending. And the Democrats, which have traditionally stood up for civil liberties are silent on these issues."
Soma and his wife have joined a contingent of other citizens from all across the US who are disgruntled with the lack of choice our two party system presents and who are frustrated by the amount of government intrusion in our lives. Prepared to do whatever they must to have their voices heard in our government, Soma and his cohorts, who are from various places around the country, are picking up their lives and trekking to New Hampshire - not to protest, but to create a visible political presence within the state of New Hampshire that will be taken seriously when the elections come around. Organizers of what is called the Free State Project (FSP) are hoping that there will be 20,000 people just like the Somas who will dedicate their lives to creating political exchange.
Why New Hampshire? The state with 'Live Free or Die' on their license plate was also the less expensive state of choice. "New Hampshire has one of the largest State Houses of representatives with 400 members," said Soma. "So with a population of only 1.3 million, you can win a seat in the house with a little over 700 votes and for as little as $1000." With easier access to state governance, the FSP hopes that in time they will be able to gather the funds necessary for runs in US Senate and the Governor's office.
Now that kind of dedication to political purpose should be very attractive to high school and college aged kids who want to make a difference in the way our country is run. "The people who have moved here so far are admittedly more politically motivated than Joe voter," Soma said. "They are definitely people who are more inclined to do something as drastic as change their entire lives for a political cause and believe it's worth it."
But what exactly does the FSP stand for? Many people equate the FSP with the Libertarian party, but Soma said the FSP is not a political party, it's a mechanism to move liberty minded people to a state where they will have the best shot at creating political change. In fact, the FSP is comprised of Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, Greens, etc. Soma does admit that filling up a state with like minded liberty loving people could be viewed as a "kooky" way to insinuate a viable third party into the political mix. But, "I'm glad to see that a lot of young people are thinking outside the box and are willing to consider alternatives to what is told to them," he said.
Money is certainly an issue. "The two major parties are holding their lines right now because of money," Soma said. "They are granted federal subsidies for campaigns that third parties aren't granted." What's worse, Third Party candidates are often held to a higher standard than Democrats and Republicans, debates are often closed to Third Party candidates because no one feels that they can win, and ballot access is often unattainable in certain elections and in certain states.
Soma and the other FSPers who have uprooted their former lives hope that at the very least more liberty oriented people, especially younger people will become informed and involved in advancing opportunities for third party candidates. "It's a chance to change the base of American politics," said Soma. After all we do live in a democracy - right?
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