The Chris Hedges Report Podcast with attorney Theresa Amato, the former campaign manager for Ralph Nader, on how the two ruling parties rig the system to block third party presidential candidates.
Many Americans are aware of the campaigns of voter suppression, the difficulties in registering to vote, how casting a ballot can often be cumbersome and time consuming as well as the flawed mechanisms used to count votes. Hundreds of laws have been passed by state legislatures to address these issues following the debacle that marked the 2000 presidential election. The absurdity of the Electoral College, a system that sees candidates such as George W. Bush and Donald Trump lose the popular vote and win the election, is periodically raised for discussion. The disenfranchisement of voters in Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico, along with ex-felons, is also part of our public debate about elections.
But what is rarely discussed or understood is how the electoral system has been rigged to prevent third parties and independent candidates from competing equally with Republicans and Democrats. A series of arcane laws and rules governing our elections make it exponentially harder for those outside the two ruling parties to get on the ballot, receive exposure or participate in public debates. Commissions and boards set up to supposedly ensure fairness are composed exclusively of representatives from the two ruling parties. The Federal Election Commission, for example, is composed of three Republicans and three Democrats. This discrimination, which is euphemistically labeled “bipartisanship,” is, as Theresa Amato writes, political apartheid. As the political scientist Theodore Lowi noted, “One of the best-kept secrets in American politics is that the two-party system has long been brain dead – kept alive by support systems like state electoral laws that protect the established parties from rivals and by Federal subsidies and so-called Campaign reform. The two-party system would collapse”, he writes, “in an instant if the tubes were pulled and the IV’s were cut.” The attorney Theresa Amato was the national presidential campaign manager and in-house counsel for Ralph Nader in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Her book “Grand Illusion: The myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny” is a sobering and often chilling account, based on her experience in the Nader campaigns, of the nefarious mechanisms to prevent third parties and independents from competing in the election process. Joining me to discuss her book and how the two ruling parties have effectively closed elections to outsiders is Theresa Amato.