Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ralph Nader and Third Party Viability

For homework tonight, read pp. 235-241 (from "The Second Party System" to "The American Two-Party System"). Take notes on the section -- include three questions on the side or at the end. Complete this assignment in your notebook. It is worth 20 points. We will be in the classroom tomorrow.

Ralph Nader
Today, we will continue looking at the role of third parties in American politics. You will not just look at one party today -- instead, you will consider the issue as a whole.

Complete all sections of today's assignment on loose leaf paper. You are working individually for the first three parts, but will be able to work with your partner for the last section.

Part I: Ralph Nader Article
First, read this summary of Ralph Nader's career from the New York Times.

  1. Who is Ralph Nader?
  2. What happened in 2000 that drew national attention to Nader and his beliefs?

Part II: Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man
Then, watch the video excerpt from a documentary  film An Unreasonable Man, a piece about Ralph Nader. Use the video to respond to the questions which follow.

If the video doesn't work on the blog for some reason, you can find it here.
  1. What is he talking about in the video? Record at least 3 of his major points.
  2. What does his goal appear to be? How does he try to accomplish it?
  3. What do others seem to think about Ralph Nader?
  4. Do you agree with him? Explain.
  5. Would you consider voting for a person like Ralph Nader? Explain.
Part III: Ralph Nader Today
Finally, take a look at this Los Angeles Times article. Use it to answer the questions which follow.
  1. What does Nader say in the LA Times article? What is his justification for this position?
  2. Do you agree with Nader? Explain your response.
Part IV: Third-Party Candidate Access to the Presidential Ballot
Rich Whitney, a Green Party candidate in the
2010 Illinois gubernatorial election.
The U.S. Constitution gives every citizen over the age of 18 a fundamental right to vote. Whether citizens vote for the President of the United States, U.S. Senators, or local government officials, voting for a candidate allows citizens to become involved in their own governance by choosing people to represent their own beliefs and concerns. Currently, two major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, dominate national politics. Having a dual political party system could make it more difficult  for citizens to choose a candidate who accurately represents their own political beliefs.

State legislatures control the process in which candidates are placed on the ballot for Presidential elect ions. In Illinois, it is more difficult  for  a person who is not  a Republican or  Democrat  to have their name on the ballot as a Presidential candidate. As a result, American citizens have fewer choices in voting for a President. The issue is whether creating barriers for third-party candidates  is good policy. In order to access the ballot, a third-party or candidate must have 25,000 qualified voters sign a petition.  Democrats or Republicans need between 3,000 to 5,000 signatures. The discrepancy in the number of signatures creates a significant burden for non-established political party candidates. Moreover, Illinois law requires that the petitions for non-established political parties be filed by June 2lst,  an early due date compared to other states.

Respond to the following. You may work with your partner, but keep your assigned position in mind, and answer on your own sheet of paper.
  1. U.S. Citizens have the right  to associate and form their own political  beliefs.  Do barriers to third-party candidates hinder the rights of American citizens in voting for candidates who most closely represent their beliefs and concerns?
  2. What are some reasons why you think the Illinois State Legislature decided to make it more difficult  for non-established political parties to have their names on the presidential ballot?
  3. What advantages exist for keeping a small number of candidates on the ballot?  What advantages exist for opening up the ballot to anyone/any political party equally? What are the disadvantages of having a large number of people on the ballot?  What does having such a large number of signatures (25,000) accomplish? What are the disadvantages to that system?
  4. What are the downfalls of having barriers to the ballot?  What citizen rights are at stake?
  5. What are the effects of having a third party on the Presidential ballot?  Are the Republican or Democratic parties equally affected by a third-party candidate? Or does it depend on how closely the third party resembles one of the two major political parties? Should it matter? Keep Ralph Nader in mind when you answer.
If you're interested in reading more about this topic, take a look at the

No comments:

Post a Comment