Here's an interesting interview of Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark by Matthew Rozsa of Salon. Sarwark steps in it out of the gate by likening the treatment of Libertarians (and other third-party candidates) to the dismissive attitude toward women before they got the vote and toward blacks before they gained equal civil rights. "I find it offensive to compare the ordeal of a libertarian candidate to the plight endured by victims of racial or gender-based oppression," writes Rozsa. "No, they are not the same thing."
That's a fair point, though I'd argue that Sarwark is not directly equating the treatment of the different groups. Rather, he's emphasizing the need for people outside a system to work harder to be taken seriously: "We have to try harder because we are judged more harshly."
But that's actually splitting hairs. What's interesting about the conversation and Rozsa's writeup of it is how much a progressive at Salon actually agrees with the points being made by Sarwark. In truth, writes Rozsa,
third parties do suffer from major structural disadvantages in the American system, as Sarwark pointed out…
Sarwark spoke for a lot of people when he described the election between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as a choice between "terrible and terribler." He isn't wrong in pointing out that "if you don't vote your conscience . . . for what you want, you're going to get what they shove down your throat. And that's going to be them fearmongering you."
I believe that our essentially two-party system, which has kept America alternating between Democratic and Republican presidents since the 1850s, stifles independent voices, fosters corruption and keeps out-of-touch elites in power. Creating a multitude of viable parties won't solve all our problems, but a long-term solution might begin with that step.
Systemic change takes forever to arrive and it almost always depends on a new consensus being reached. Despite the dismissive headline ("Chair of Libertarian Party compares its treatment to experiences of African-Americans before the '60s and women before suffrage), this exchange shows an increase in common ground among Libertarians and progressives.