Tag: Third Parties

Correcting America’s Democracy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

We have other choices this Election Day. This is Chris Hedges’ choice and his rational explanation why he is not voting for either Obama or Romney.

Why I’m Voting Green

by Chris Hedges

The November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear. I will defy corporate power in small and large ways. I will invest my energy now solely in acts of resistance, in civil disobedience and in defiance. Those who rebel are our only hope. And for this reason I will vote next month for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, although I could as easily vote for Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. I will step outside the system. Voting for the “lesser evil”-or failing to vote at all-is part of the corporate agenda to crush what is left of our anemic democracy. And those who continue to participate in the vaudeville of a two-party process, who refuse to confront in every way possible the structures of corporate power, assure our mutual destruction.

All the major correctives to American democracy have come through movements and third parties that have operated outside the mainstream. Few achieved formal positions of power. These movements built enough momentum and popular support, always in the face of fierce opposition, to force the power elite to respond to their concerns. Such developments, along with the courage to defy the political charade in the voting booth, offer the only hope of saving us from Wall Street predators, the assault on the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the rise of the security and surveillance state and the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties. [..]

The flimsy excuses used by liberals and progressives to support Obama, including the argument that we can’t let Romney appoint the next Supreme Court justices, ignore the imperative of building a movement as fast and as radical as possible as a counterweight to corporate power. The Supreme Court, no matter what its composition, will not save us from financial implosion and climate collapse. And Obama, whatever his proclivity on social issues, has provided ample evidence that he will not alter his servitude to the corporate state. For example, he has refused to provide assurance that he will not make cuts in basic social infrastructures. He has proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare, a move that would leave millions without adequate health care in retirement. He has said he will reduce the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, thrusting vast numbers of seniors into poverty. Progressives’ call to vote for independents in “safe” states where it is certain the Democrats will win will do nothing to mitigate fossil fuel’s ravaging of the ecosystem, regulate and prosecute Wall Street or return to us our civil liberties.

“There is no state out there where either Obama or Romney offers a way out of here alive,” Stein said. “It’s up to us to create truly safe states, a safe nation, and a safe planet. Neither Obama nor Romney has a single exit strategy from the deadly crises we face.”

Who decides who’s “viable”?


Following up on one of my previous posts, I want to post regarding Glenn Greenwald's recent shilling for three Democrat Congressional candidates running for their party's nomination.  Specifically, I want to comment on something he said in his opening paragraph:

 "Most  Congressional contests are boring and largely inconsequential; the   vast bulk features certain victory by unnotable incumbents or open-seat   races between Party-approved, script-reading, poll-driven,  cookie-cutter  challengers. But there are a few new candidates for  Congress who are  both genuinely exciting and viable, and thus very much worthy of  attention and support."

 I  put the relevant statement in bold-faced type.  I have to marvel at  Greenwald's curiously contradictory dismissal of candidates he deems not  to be viable, because here he is using his blog to do what journalists  are supposed to do in elections: highlight candidates whose policy  positions are relevant to the electorate, thereby providing voters with  information they need to render good decisions at the ballot boxes.

Shouldn't  it be voters who decide which candidates are viable by casting their  ballots?  How are they supposed to do that when media figures — even  liberal ones — deny them information they need?

 Jill Stein, Roseanne Barr, and Kent Mesplay are all running for the Green Party nomination this year, with Stein so far having won more primaries.  Stewart Alexander is running on the Socialist Party ticket, Gary Johnson is running for the Libertarian Party nomination, and Rocky Anderson  is running on the newly formed Justice Party.  But you wouldn't know  that to hear the mainstream news and blogs tell it; as far as they're  concerned, these candidates aren't "viable", aren't "serious", and are  therefore excluded from all discussion that isn't ridicule.

Regardless  of your political views, shouldn't you as a voter determine which  candidates are worthy of your ballot?  Journalists have an obligation to  provide all the relevant facts, including candidates for public  office.  When certain candidates and political parties are ignored or  dismissed by the mainstream media, it becomes even more important for  them to include such persons in their reporting.  Deny voters the  necessary information, and they cannot render fully informed decisions  at the polls.  This has the effect of disenfranchising voters because  those voters are limited in who they are allowed to vote for, and in  such circumstances the options are almost always limited to candidates  who represent the polar opposite of the public interest.

 I am not asking Greenwald or any other media personality to endorse  any candidates they don't wish to endorse.  Nor should they.  But if  Americans are to have any hope of using the electoral system to generate  real, substantive change for the better, they deserve to have all  candidates reported on objectively so that they may decide for  themselves who is "viable" and who isn't.


Happy-faced IndependentVoting.org really ‘a pressure group working to limit choices on the ballot’

Reprinted in full, with permission, from Ballot Access News, the newsletter of the highly respected and trustworthy ballot access expert Richard Winger.

Government-printed ballots in the United States were first created in 1888, and almost from the start, opponents of new and minor political parties started manipulating the ballot access laws to keep certain parties off the ballot.  The first such instance was in Nevada, when the 1893 legislature increased the petition requirement for new parties and independent candidates to 10% of the last vote cast, in a vain attempt to keep the Peoples (Populist) Party off the ballot.

But in over a century of struggle to avoid monopolization of the general election ballot to just the two major parties, there has never been a pressure group that worked in favor of restrictive ballot access laws, until very recently.  Leaders of the former New Alliance Party, who have renamed themselves several times, now call themselves IndependentVoting.org.  They hold themselves out as the leaders of independent voters, but they have become a pressure group working to limit choices on the general election ballot to just Democrats and Republicans.

Core accretion

It may be time to utter the “unutterable”.

There’s a phenomenon called “core accretion” in the world of astrophysicists.  It refers to the process by which little planets become big planets during solar system formation.  

During this process, the biggest and strongest of the planetesimals gobble up the smaller ones.  And the character of the new planet takes on the combined character of all the rocks it has accreted in the process.

It works a little like this:

If the Democrats continue to take this country the direction they’ve been taking it all the way through 2010, it may be time that the Democrats are done.  If the Democrats were supplanted by another Party or Parties, what would happen next?  What to do, this would bring chaos and political defeat!

Not really.

Fusion balloting: creating more and better choices for American voters

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an article that was originally posted on my blog a few days ago. I’m posting it here at DD as a followup to my previous diary about the need for ballot access reform.


A few days ago, I discussed the need for ballot access reform as a crucial first step in opening up the American political system and removing the shackles placed upon it by the Republican and Democratic parties. Today, I’d like to discuss another equally important element of political reform which I believe is a necessary co-requisite to ballot access liberalization: electoral fusion.

Fusion balloting, which is also referred to as cross-endorsement or open ballot voting, refers to the practice of allowing multiple political parties to nominate the same candidate for the same office. This cross-endorsement can open up several possibilities for minor parties operating within the constraints of a political system like ours here in America, in which two parties are dominant: these minor parties might, for example, choose to cross-endorse candidates nominated by one of the two major parties, or to cross-nominate each other’s candidates, or to run their own candidates without any cross-endorsements, depending on what their political and strategic priorities are. At present, fusion balloting doesn’t affect most voters because it’s only allowed in eight states: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, Oregon South Carolina, and Vermont.

Ballot access reform: the first step in fixing America’s broken political system

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an article that was originally posted on my blog a few days ago. I’m reposting it here as a self-introduction of sorts for those of you who I haven’t ran into over at Daily Kos, as well as an invitation to participate in what I hope will be an ongoing dialogue about the general need for political reform.

* * * * * * * * *

Over the last few decades or so, America has gradually trended toward the kind of stagnation that has laid low great empires throughout history. This is reflected in the gradual erosion of the American middle class and the increasing stratification of wealth within our country over the last few decades, as our elected leaders have prioritized the interests of concentrated wealth and the handful of individuals who control it over the interests of the people. The stagnation in which we are currently mired is a function of the death grip on political power maintained by the Republican and Democratic parties, who have been allowed to game the political system to their advantage to an extent not seen in any other democracy. As I have stated elsewhere, I believe that if we are to steer this country away from disaster we must first clear the path for economic and social reform by achieving fundamental systemic changes to break the two-party duopoly and replace it with an open multiparty democracy. One of the first, and certainly one of the most important, elements in that systemic reform must be the liberalization of ballot access laws at the federal and state level.

So You Want To Form A New Party? First Steps

This entry builds on what Something the Dog Said and rossl wrote in their own entries.  Before I get to the meat of my own text, I just want to summarize what each of the previous entries state.  Starting any political party, or building an existing one, is going to be a lot of hard work and progressives are going to face an uphill battle regardless of what we do.  If we’re going to break away from the Democrats, however, it’s worth the effort; there are parties such as the Progressives (currently in Vermont and Washington) and the Greens, among others, that have made substantial progress at local and state levels.

That’s the short version of what Something’s and rossl’s entries have to say.  I highly recommend reading them both in full.  Now, on to my own contribution to this subject.  Because I want to provide a real-world context to the topic at hand, I’m going to pick an existing political party (The Progressives), though feel free to substitute your own.  I’m going to lay out some first steps that can be taken to get the ball rolling.

One more thing before I begin: know WHY you are forming a new political party, know what your goals are, and have realistic expectations about what you hope to accomplish.  Don’t hold any illusions.  Unless either the Democrats or the Republicans implode, chances are you’re not going to replace one of them on the national stage.  At most, and if you do things right, you’ll force the Democrats to shift back to the left.  That’s it.  If a new political party does rise to prominence, great, but that is only icing on the proverbial cake.  All you’ll want to do is force one of the major parties to experience an ideological shift to the political left.  Expect at least a generation to pass before you get this result.  It was twenty years between the 1912 election, when Theodore Roosevelt led the Progressive Party and split the presidential election three ways (thus handing it to Democrat Woodrow Wilson) and that of 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the New Dealers to power.  It was another generation before the Republicans built their party back up to the point where they could begin taking back political power in government.  Finally, don’t let the progressive movement become subservient to your party – make the party subservient to the progressive movement.  David Sirota explains why far better than I can, so I’ll let his words do it.

And now, without further adieu…

“Strategic” voting doesn’t work.

Also available in teal.

Every time I state my intention to vote, or that I have voted, for a write-in candidate for president I am blasted with vitriol about how I’ve wasted my vote, or that I’ve helped the Republicans win.  To that I say, “bullshit.”  Why do I say this?  I say it because it’s true.

We are told that our options are limited to a choice between “bad” and “worse.”  “Good” is denounced as “perfect,” the “enemy” of the “good,” but this overlooks the fact that no one expects or asks for “perfect.”  We want good politicians who will represent our interests in public office – that’s it.  We don’t expect miracles, or even success 100% of the time, but we do expect and demand that those we elect to power try their best.

It is a sick joke to be told that our votes for third party, independent, or write-in candidates are a waste, and it’s nothing short of fear-mongering to threaten a Republican victory if we don’t throw our principles out the window.  We’re lectured about how there is “too much at stake” in the current election cycle to vote our principles now, that we can vote our principles next time.  The best we can do, or so we’re told, is to vote for Democrats and hope they’re not as bad as the Republicans.

Again, this overlooks certain facts, chief among them being that there’s always going to be “too much at stake.”  That mythical “next” election cycle during which we shall be free to vote our beliefs and principles isn’t going to come as long as we continue to throw our votes away on politicians who represent the establishment and maintain the current regime.  What good does it do us on the left to compromise our principles if the result is always the same: bad politicians who support the status quo?

The strategy of electing “more and better” Democrats doesn’t work because we keep voting for the same corrupt politicians who say one thing but do another, namely, alienating progressives and disenfranchising voters.  As the last two years have shown us, we cannot hope to reform the Democratic Party from within because it has been thoroughly compromised by the lure of money and power.  The number of actual progressive Democrats shrinks every cycle, as the base wakes up to this fact and leaves the party.  It doesn’t help that the duopoly has the assistance of the corporate-owned media, which actively suppresses dissenting voices during campaign coverage.  This is illustrated by the marginalization and elimination of Democrats Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and John Edwards in last year’s debates.

This inevitably leads to weak corporate candidates such as Al Gore, John Kerry, and now Barack Obama for president.  Each of these politicians ran right-leaning campaigns against their hard right Republican counterparts, thus ensuring that voters would see little or no fundamental difference between them.  This, combined with weak campaigns that allowed the opposition to define the candidates, allowed the GOPhers to get just enough of the vote to steal the elections.  That the votes were so close in the first place speaks volumes about how low the Democrats have sunk in terms of putting up viable candidates; Gore and Kerry should have soundly defeated the shrub, by double digits, in their respective campaigns.  Instead, they ran so far to the political right that they turned off their party’s base.

Finally, there is the imperious attitude among partisan Democrats that none of this matters – it is up to the voters to shut up and go along, rather than the politicians listening to their employers and running effective, progressive campaigns.  That this turns off the base and drives it to look elsewhere for representation should have been a harsh wakeup call to Democrats to re-evaluate their core beliefs, failed strategies and tactics, and unearned sense of entitlement to non-Republican votes, but this hasn’t happened.

So we end up back where we began, on the losing end of elections that should have been in the bag.  If progressives are to break the cycle and have a chance of competing with the corporate duopoly, we must recognize that failed strategies must be abandoned.

Ron Paul and Ralph Nader on CNN 9/10/08

Ralph Nader and Ron Paul appear on CNN’s The Situation Room to discuss Rep. Paul’s push for the third party candidates.

Media Marginalization of “Third” Parties

Original article via dissidentvoice.org.  Sub-headed: Interview with Mickey Z.

The Power of Defiance

If the electoral disaster of 2004 should have taught us anything, it’s that our votes are wasted when cast for those candidates who represent the status quo and refuse to fight it.  How many of you regret throwing your ballots away on John Kerry?  How many of you did so, knowing in your hearts that you would much rather have voted for someone else, because you felt it was more important to try to oust the shrub than to vote your beliefs?

I did the same thing.  I had voted for Dennis Kucinich in the primary, and I knew Kerry didn’t have the stones to win in spite of the inevitable vote fraud the Bush-Cheney campaign was pulling off, but I cast my November ballot for John Kerry anyway.  I admit, I screwed up that year.  I had voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, a protest vote, because I believed then as I do now, that the only fundamental difference between the two major political parties today is one of competence.  The GOP is inept at, well, everything except committing crimes and getting away with them.  The Democrats are surprisingly effective at everything except committing crimes and getting away with them.  That’s all.

I watched, growing up, as the party of the New Deal abandoned all pretense of remaining true to its principles to join the corporate-conservative DLC in embracing Republican policies.  By 2000 I had had enough.  I would no longer vote along party lines.  Although a registered Democrat, if I thought a Green or a non-aligned progressive could do the job, I voted for that person.  So, full of defiance, I cast my ballot for Ralph Nader in 2000.

And yet I “repented” that action a mere four years later.  Not because I had ceased to believe in what the man stands for, but because I had partaken of the ‘Anybody But Bush’ wafer.  Not all of it, mind you.  Just a tiny nibble, after the primary season was over.  I suppressed the urge to vomit, poked the hole in the punch card, and hoped I hadn’t made a huge mistake.

Except I had made a mistake, the same one so many Democrats continue to do even after nearly three decades of unbroken conservative misrule in government.  I had compromised my principles, thrown away my vote.  I watched in disgust and horror as CBS interviewed Black voters, who told us how they had watched their Kerry votes flipped over to the shrub and his gargoyle before their very eyes, on those unholy Diebold election-rigging machines.  I watched and shook my head at the party for Kerry in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, as the results went from a solid victory for the Democrats to a bare margin of fraudulent triumph for the shrub.  Another election had been stolen, I knew.  My last and only hope was that Kerry would fight it.  The next day, that hope was dashed.  The Democratic granny candidate had capitulated.  Again.

Needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson since then.  No more will I hand my vote to someone who never has and never will earn it.  Oh, sure, you might ask; aren’t I just throwing my vote away?  I’ve done that, but not in the way you might think.

My vote for Kerry was wasted because of one, unalterable truth: the only wasted votes are those not cast, or those cast for candidates who don’t represent our interests.

Those who say we cannot vote our beliefs because our preferred candidates “can’t win” subscribe to the notion that voting our beliefs doesn’t win elections.  But as the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and soon the 2008 elections have shown, this is nonsense.  We lose when we compromise our principles, and win when we embrace them.  The so-called experts have it all backwards, and deliberately so.

Former member of British Parliament Tony Benn said, in Michael Moore excellent documentary SiCKO, that if people in America and Great Britain were to turn out and vote in large numbers it would be a truly democratic revolution.  And he’s right.  If voter turnout were anything like what it is in European states such as France, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian states, and so forth, can you imagine how the political landscape would be altered?  Can you imagine what would happen in elections if, during the primary season, voters cast their ballots based on choosing the candidates of their preference instead of who we’re told to vote for?

The powerful can, and do, which is why they work so tirelessly to suppress the vote, to discourage us from casting our ballots the way we want.  The powerful would lose the only thing that really matters to them: power.  It’s why men and women of principle, such as Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, and Ralph Nader are marginalized and excluded from presidential debates — shoved aside in favor of corporate whores who beat the drums of war on the orders of their sponsors.  It’s why Diebold rigs its machines to favor certain political parties, state secretaries purge legally registered voters from the polls, and state legislatures pass laws designed to prevent certain types of people from voting.

All of it is set up to prevent true socioeconomic reform from ever again coming to pass.  It wasn’t enough for movement conservatives to dismantle the New Deal; they had to make sure it could never happen again.  That’s why your vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is such a waste.  Neither of them is ever going to rock the boat, try to change the status quo.    They’re both from the DLC, the Trojan Horse whose sole purpose is to cripple the progressive movement from within the Democratic Party.  No matter which of the major political party candidates you vote for this year, you’re voting to keep things as they are.  You’re doing as you’re told, which is exactly what the powerful want you to do.  The message you send when you do that is that you are content with the status quo, even if you’re not.

Your vote for Ralph Nader, or Mike Gravel, or the Green Party candidate, your ballot for Dennis Kucinich as a Democratic write-in, that is the only real power you have.  The purpose of it is not to win in spite of a system rigged to favor the establishment every single time, though with hard work and unwavering dedication we may one day see that happen.  The purpose of your protest vote and mine is to send a message of defiance: “You do not own our votes.  We give them to those who do.  If you want them, you’ll have to earn them or just keep on taking them.  But we shall never just give our votes to you.”

How many of you, dear readers, have read Orwell’s 1984?  How many of you read the Party’s lessons about power?  Do you recognize what true power is?  It’s not in keeping a boot on the face of humanity, grinding us into the dirt forever; it’s in Defiance.  When you cast your ballot for the candidate of your genuine choice, you are choosing to defy a system that was set up to crush you, to keep you buried in the mud, groveling for what scraps the powerful deign to throw you.

Why do you think hatred of Ralph Nader runs so strong?  It’s not because he is perceived as having stolen votes that belonged to Al Gore in 2000, or John Kerry in 2004.  We who are wise know that no political party owns our votes.  The hatred burns so brightly because when we cast our ballots for him we are denying the powerful something they want but cannot steal.  Oh, sure, they can prevent us from voting, or reduce our options so that we can only make the choices they want us to.  But it’s not the same as us giving them our votes of our own free will.  They want, no, they need you to accept them, their way of thinking.  The powerful cannot be powerful unless you hand your power to them willingly  That’s what motivates the Party described by George Orwell in 1984: the irrational need to be loved and accepted no matter what.  When we vote for third party candidates, we reject everything the establishment represents.  And rejection is the worst thing any of us can inflict upon the powerful.

Defiance.  That is real power.  Use it or lose it.

Why I don’t think the Greens can do it for the Progressive Movement.

I’ve been trying, in my humble way, to help jump-start a renewed Progressive Party presence.  But a question that is often asked of me is why not just join the Green Party.  I could go into a long and detailed explanation, but the short of it is that I don’t think they’re very organized and some of their campaigning methods rub me the wrong way.  (For the record, the reason I don’t say much about the Libertarian and Socialist Parties is because I don’t know enough about their organizational structure or their methods of campaigning to make an informed assessment.)

First, my distaste for the Green Party’s methods in campaigning.  As reported by CBS News, they accepted money and assistance in 2006 from then-senator Rick Santorum of the Republican Party in order to get on the ballot.  The state’s high court threw candidate Carl Romanelli off the ballot citing insufficient signatures, but the story exposed an even deeper rot within the Greens’ political machine in Pennsylvania: the willingness to be compromised just to try to stick it to the Democrats, whom Greens consider little or no better than the GOP.

There is, of course, a valid argument to be made in claiming there is difference between the two major political parties.  One need only look at the voting records of the two Prima Donna Democrats competing for their party’s nomination to run for president, and the complicit cowardice by most Congressional members in either chamber, to see the truth in this point of view.  But for the Greens to accept help from a GOPer so vile as to have had post-anal sex discharge named after him reveals both a lack of integrity and a sickening display of hypocrisy.  Such actions add otherwise undeserved legitimacy to charges by Democrats that greens are somehow bent on “stealing” votes they feel belong to their party.

Then there is the organization of their campaigns for national office.  Or, rather, the lack of organization.  As I have pointed out in my recent three-part series on Progressives, Liberals, Movements and Political Parties, trying to run presidential candidates before having secured enough state-level offices (especially state secretary, judicial, and legislative positions) waste resources that are better spent building up presences in the various states so as to achieve the ability to gain traction at the national level.  What good does it do to run candidates for president when the Green Party hasn’t even made headway winning state legislative and executive offices first?

That’s why I think it’s better to rally the Progressive Movement through its own namesake political party.  I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t work with Greens; since their platform so closely matches that of the overall Progressive Movement, they make natural political allies and might even be tempted to switch over.  But I think as long as some elements in the party are willing to help Republicans, and as long as the party leadership insists on trying to build the party in a more top-down manner, their effectiveness as a political party is severely limited.

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