Limiting Choices Results in Limited Participation.

Extemporaneous remarks of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura keynoting the debate of the 3rd Party Presidential Candidates he hosted on Sept. 28, 2000

“I’m going to keep my comments very brief because, fortunately for me, I’ve got two years to go yet; I don’t have to face these things for a couple of years down the line any more.  But certainly a couple of years ago I was in more debates in one summer than I have been in in my whole life.

“What I would like to say is to thank everyone who’s participating in these debates, thank everyone who’s come out here, because you’re showing a great deal of courage.  And you’re showing you believe in America and you believe in what our democracy should be.

“And just as an example of what it means to have more than two choices, last week I was on Larry King.  And I was on with four of these “inside-the-Beltway-talking-heads,” as I like to call them, all these ‘experts’ that have never been outside of Washington, D.C.  And they were expounding the ‘two-party system,’ saying how it had ‘served us so well and done such a great job for us down through the years’ and this and that.

“And it came to me, and I simply made one brief statement that I’m very proud of today.  I said, ‘yes, our two-party system gives us one more choice than Russia [presumably the former Soviet Union].’ But what I would like to say to everyone are a few examples around the world.  We are the leader of democracy, the United States of America.  We are the one that all the other democracies look to for the leadership of what it’s like.

“And yet you find out that today our voting totals are below 50% nationally, and they’re heading down.  So it shows me that the ‘two-party system’ as we’ve known it for all these years is starting to fail.  It is starting to get on shaky ground.  Examples being: Israel, which has four or five major parties with four or five major candidates every election draws over 90% voter turnout.

“The Lieutenant Governor informed me just moments ago: she just returned from Croatia where they just had their first elections in history over there, or in modern history I guess we’d say, and they had what?  94.7% voter turnout!  And my next question to the Lieutenant Governor was, ‘How many parties were there?’ ‘Six!’  So as you can see, the more parties, the more voter turnout.  The more parties, the more candidates, the more people-involvement.  And that is what the United States of America should be about.

“Yes, certainly, the third party movement and our candidates and our parties will have differences of opinions.  Absolutely we will.  But I think we will stand united, all the movements beyond these ‘two parties,’ in agreeing to one fact: that we need to be far more inclusive in our government today.

“I think Rick McLuhan [of Minnesota’s Independence Party] is absolutely right:  When you have ballot access to the point of you could technically win the Presidency of the United States with ballot access that you owe it to the American people to be included in debates absolutely, no questions asked beyond that.

“If I can add for a moment, and then I’m getting off the stage because this is not my night, but if I can add for a moment that if we looked at the criteria being set for us this year on who can debate at 15% -- if that criteria had been used in the state of Minnesota two years ago, I would not be the governor of the state of Minnesota.  Because at the point of the primary I was polling only 10%.  We proved in Minnesota that a candidate at 10% can win an election.  We proved it here.

“Now it’s a matter of all of us keeping the faith, continuing to work hard, and continuing not to accept this ‘two-party system’ that is being pushed down our throats year in and year out, election after election.  Don’t accept it.  THIS is the way we won’t accept it: by holding our own debates and letting the American people know thre are more than just two choices out there when it comes to candidates for offices, whether being local, statewide or national elections.

“So I tip my hat to you all.  Thank you for coming tonight.  I hope you enjoy these debates.  And we will continue to move the multiple parties forward and unite in the fact that we believe we deserve in America more than just two choices.   Thank you.”

"If I'm only given a Democrat or a Republican to vote for, I leave that space blank." -- Gov. Jesse Ventura to Chris Matthews 11-5-2002

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