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What's Happening

The Salt Lake Tribune
Friday, October 27, 2000



© 2000 The Salt Lake Tribune

By Glen Warchol
The Salt Lake Tribune

Instead of fretting about "wasting" a vote on a third-party candidate, Americans should consider the wrong message they will send by voting for the likes of Al Gore or George W. Bush, says Natural Law-Independent Party Coalition presidential candidate John Hagelin.

"A Republican or Democratic vote is a destructive vote because it says, 'Keep up the good work,'" Hagelin said Thursday in a discussion at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

The two-party system -- what he calls the "duopoly" -- has had decades to come up with solutions to America's problems, including good health care, justice and quality of life. Yet, they have failed, Hagelin said. Not because common sense solutions are not available, but because special interest money has bought off both parties.

"The winners [of American elections] are the ones most skilled at raising special interest money," he said.

Hagelin, a quantum physicist and educator, said the Natural Law Party he helped found in 1992 offers common-sense solutions that follow "nature's laws of how things work." Many of the party's solutions, in areas such as health and public safety, emphasize preventive measures.

Hagelin lamented what he calls the United States' hypocrisy of ramming the international Helsinki Accords, which provide for democratic elections, "down the throats of the rest of the world." Key to the accords are equal access to ballots and debates.

Yet, in the United States, because of the overwhelming control of the two-party system, it takes more votes for a third-party candidate just to get on the ballot of a populous state than it does to win office in most industrial nations.

And third-party candidates, confirmed again this year, seldom are allowed to express their ideas in debates with their major party opponents. In Utah, for example, a third-party candidate went on a hunger strike to get some attention in the news media and in debates.

"We are the only democracy that flagrantly defies the [Helsinki] accords," Hagelin said.

Still, though third-parties seldom win elections in America (a notable exception being Abraham Lincoln and his anti-slavery Republican Party), Hagelin argues that they often succeed in spreading "contagious and irreversible" ideas.

"When a third-party candidate gets a couple of million votes, the Republicans and Democrats scramble to co-opt their ideas," he said. Gore increasingly is talking about issues like racial profiling, global warming and health care that were kept alive by the third parties.

"So, we are having an impact," Hagelin said, "but I'm concerned the major parties aren't changing fast enough."

"It's time we took our place in history as the generation that broke the two party death grip."