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Editorial  by Royce Carlson   November 28, 1999

Is the Reform Party Alternative?

I recently received a web site submission to Zenzibar from a person running for U.S. senator as a Reform Party candidate. He sent a very enthusiastic e-mail and seemed sure that his site was alternative. Certainly it is an alternative to the lock that the Republican and Democratic parties have on American politics, but, is it culturally an alternative?

I decided to do a little research to find out. I visited the web sites of all three of these parties and looked at the party platforms listed there. Hereís what I found:

The Republicans are against abortion. The Democrats are for women having a choice. The Reform party doesnít mention the issue.

The Republicans are for guns. The Democrats are for gun control. The Reform party doesnít mention this issue, either.

The Republicans and Democrats are for expanding global free trade. The Reform party wants a more isolationist policy.

In most other respects the three political parties generally agree with each other. They all want continued economic growth (with a small bone tossed to the environmentalists), increased national security, welfare reform, smaller government, and a balanced budget.

They are all pretty excited about expanding the "war on drugs." They each have a slightly different idea about how to achieve these goals.

In many ways the Reform party is even more "mainstream" than either the Republican or Democratic parties and in some ways the Reform platform is further right than the Republican platform.

The party platform aside, two of the most visible members of the Reform party, Pat Buchanan and Jesse Ventura could hardly be more politically different. And then thereís Ross Perot! The platform does offer a welcome to people of many different views even though the political content is pretty bland.

Although the Reform Party is an alternative to the Republican and Democrat parties, it is kind of like having a new pizza restaurant move to town. Pizza is mainstream. Another pizza store hardly challenges cultural paradigms. The Reform party is not an alternative to the party politics that pervades western culture. Within the structure of politics, they do not take an alternative cultural position. Anarchy Ė now thatís alternative! The Reform party is trying to appeal to the mainstream so they must hold mainstream views. This is as it should be, I suppose, since the elected officials should represent the majorityís opinions and ideas.

What I want to see and list in Zenzibar are the political groups and individuals who want to represent the minority. They focus and answer to the voices of the people on the fringes of Western culture. We weirdos need representation! Sure, they probably wonít get elected to public office, but, I want to hear their voices.

Will Reform party candidatesí web sites be listed in Zenzibar? Iíll take it on a case by case basis depending on whether they have counter-cultural content. What Iíve seen so far looks pretty mainstream to me.

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