Wednesday, June 13, 2001

The Honorable Jesse Ventura
Governor of Minnesota
130 State Capitol
75 Constitution Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Ventura:

As a third party activist, I read your book Do I Stand Alone? with great interest. There were, of course, several policy areas on which I disagree with your position, but I was pleased and surprised to find many more on which we do agree. What I wanted to write to you about, however, is a point where I don't believe you stood up quite enough for the political reform that we each believe in.

In your concluding section, "Beyond Two-Party Politics," you state, "The bipartisan system was supposed to function as a moderating force; the two parties were supposed to create some kind of balance." Not only is that false, it is misleading, and gives the two major parties far too much credit and credibility.

To say the bipartisan system was "supposed" to do anything implies that the founders intended for there to be two major parties, and that they set up this system deliberately. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Constitution is party-free. The founders had intended for every person to be an independent, and for those who stood for office to stand as individuals, not as representatives of one or another official ideology.

In his farewell address, George Washington himself warned against the formation of parties, saying in part, "[The existence of parties] serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with illfounded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection."

The formation of parties was an accident of two key elements of what the founders did set up: single-member legislative districts and winner-take-all elections. Had the founders foreseen where this would lead, I believe they would have designed multi-member districts (allowing fairer and broader representation) and a means proportional representation.

We can still make those modifications to the Constitution to allow something closer to the original vision of truly independent citizen legislators to develop. I believe that if you are serious about being a national leader for the third-party movement (and I hope that you are) that these are the victories you should be after.

You go on to discuss the "15% rule" set by the Commission on Presidential Debates to keep third-party candidates out of the national discussion, which is very important. But again you give them too much credit when you call this rule a "piece of legislation," "a bill," and "that 15 percent law." The Commission on Presidential Debates is not an official arm of the United States government, it is an independent and private body. They do not legislate, they do not pass bills, and they do not make laws.

The rules of the Commission on Presidential Debates have as much legal standing as the rules of order at any local Kiwanis club chapter. We the People can choose to ignore any arbitrary rules set up by the Commission. The Commission was set up by representatives of the two major parties which, we should be reminding the general public, are also private non-governmental organizations. The Commission has no legal standing when their actions are designed to keep us from our Constitutional right to a representative government.

Each time you, or anybody else, makes a statement giving the major parties, or any organization linked to them, too much credit, it reinforces the exact message that we're trying to overcome: That two parties is the way it was intended to be, the way it's supposed to be, and the way it should remain.

I think you'll agree with me that these two private organizations, the Republican and Democratic parties, have hijacked our government, and are preventing the will of the people from being the effective ruling force of this nation.

Will Durant wrote, "The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority."

I hope that you will continue to be a national voice for uniting the majority. Thank you for your wonderful book, I look forward to more.


Ken Goldstein

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