Feb 28, 2010

Whigs Building Support in South East

From the Modern Whig Party blog:
While the Western Region of the national Modern Whig Party continues to grow and develop, the revived Whig Party also is seeing noticeable growth in the Southeast. For example, the Georgia Whig Party is spearheading the cutting edge "Methodology over Ideology" element. This effort is being put to practice through several meetings throughout the state with members, prospective members, media, political activists, business leaders and others.  In North Carolina, recently approved chairperson John Chappelle has announced plans to develop a push into the state. The first Web site of the North Carolina Whigs can be viewed at www.ncmodernwhig.org.

Virginia Whigs Establish Political Action Committee

From the Modern Whig Party blog:
The Modern Whig Party of Virginia reports that it is now registered as a Political Action Committee. This status, among other items, allows the Virginia Whigs to accept donations as it continues to grow and develop. The February newsletter describes a number of benchmarks that the Virginia Whigs have met.

CO: Letter to Editor Makes Case for Green Party

From Coloradoan:
More and more people are coming to see what we in the Poudre Valley Green Party have known for years: Our political system is broken.  When a clear majority of people across the political spectrum wants real health-care reform, including a public insurance option, but instead we get the monstrosity of the Senate health-care bill, the system is broken.  When most of us oppose taxpayer bailouts of corporations deemed "too big to fail," but the Democratic president continues his Republican predecessor's bailouts anyway, our system is broken.  When an overwhelming majority of Democrats, Independents and even Republicans oppose the recent Supreme Court decision that absurdly declares corporations are persons, money is speech and therefore corporate campaign spending cannot be controlled, our system is broken.

Green Tea: Greens Reach Out to Tea Party Activists

From the GP of PA:
Green Party leaders and candidates said that many Tea Party activists might be in the wrong party and urged them to consider going Green.

"Not all Tea Party members are befuddled rightwingers screeching that President Obama is a socialist, fascist, pro-terrorist, or all of the above. Many Tea Partiers have legitimate concerns about how the Democratic Party's health care reform plans will reduce Medicare and about trillion-dollar taxpayer-funded giveaways to Wall Street firms. They are as outraged as Greens are about how both Democrats and Republicans are coddling CEOs, major stockholders, and other wealthy elites while preaching sacrifice for the rest of us," said Carl Romanelli, former Green candidate for the US Senate and a member of Health Care for All Pennsylvania (http://healthcare4allpa.org).

ME: Double Standard Helps Democrats, Republicans, Hurts Everyone Else

The Bangor Daily News reports on the state of the race for governor in Maine:

Although the field is far from set, it appears that Maine voters will have plenty of choices this June and November based on the 24 people who have taken the initial step to fill out paperwork declaring their candidacy.  The first real test of major party candidates is quickly approaching as they work to gather enough signatures by March 15 to ensure their names make it on the primary ballot.  Politically unaffiliated — or unenrolled — candidates have a few more months, but need to convince twice as many registered voters to sign their petitions.

MI: Tea Party Independent Faces Uphill Battle for Ballot Access

From Free Press Politics:
The Michigan Tea Party isn't a political party with a slate of candidates.  That won't stop Tea Party activist Stacey Mathia from describing herself as the Tea Party candidate for governor.  Mathia, 37, is more like a no shot than a long shot if she can't figure out a way to rally Tea Party energy and activists to her candidacy. . . . She will need to collect 30,000 petition signatures by mid-July to get on the November ballot as an Independent candidate. To do that, and put together a campaign, Mathia will have to raise money, something she said hasn't worked out so far."A lot of people want to help, but they can't do anything financially," she said last week.

NV: Independent Candidate for Governor Gino DiSimone

The Post and Mail publishes an interview with independent candidate for governor of Nevada Gino DiSimone:
Gino DiSimone has served in the Navy, known extreme economic hardship while working his way through college to a BSEE in Electrical Engineering, and been a corporate executive at some of America’s best-known companies. A parent, grandparent, published author and entrepreneur, Mr. DiSimone recently left the Republican Party and is running as an Independent, non-partisan candidate for governor of Nevada.  Following is Part I of an interview which covers his motivation for entering the race, his ideas for boosting the economy, reforming Nevada’s educational system and bringing jobs back to the state as well as the Obama eligibility question. Mr. DiSimone was very generous with his time and promised a follow-up interview when some of his plans are rolled out in greater detail.

Feb 26, 2010

The Coffee Party: The Anti-Tea Party

The genesis of the idea for the Coffee Party Movement and its purpose is best explained by the video above. It all started with documentary filmmaker Annabel Park venting her frustrations on her Facebook page about media coverage that made it seem that the Tea Parties were representative of the “real America.” She vehemently disagreed and her comments on Facebook got a lot of feedback from people who similarly felt pent-up and frustrated.

Their name the “Coffee Party” directly references the Tea Party movement and presents itself as an alternative. Park argues elected officials who represent us should work towards positive solutions to the problems the country faces instead of adopting obstructionist political tactics that play on peoples’ fears and which are driven by deliberate misinformation.

The Coffee Party is currently organizing nationwide. It is stressing the message that its members are voters who intend to hold elected officials accountable to holding up progress. Its members will participate and be engaged in the political process.

Posted in An Ordinary Person blog

CA: Green to Challenge Tom McClintock

From Jeff Pelline's Blog:
Ben Emery of Nevada City is planning to run for California’s 4th District Congressional race against Tom McClintock, he confirmed on Thursday.
Emery’s name is among the candidates listed by the county’s election office, which I posted earlier.
“For too long we have been represented by politicans who are seeking higher office, and in the process make financial deals to advance their goals,” he writes.
“We no longer have a government that is of the people, for the people, and by the people of the United States of America, but instead we have a government that is controlled by entities that have no loyalty except to those who will increase their bottom lines.”

Historian: Progressive Democrats Should Go Green

From Counter Punch:
For quite awhile now, the political streams have been flooded with the ever increasing wail of the progressive Democrats. The weeping and gnashing of teeth by peace and justice groups, unions, focus groups, Democratic Party blogs and liberal/left journals has become deafening: What happened, why didn't we get what we voted for on November 4, 2008?

These progressive Democrats organized, campaigned and voted for a progressive agenda and go--drum roll--nothing. That's right, nothing. For the past year, their party has controlled both houses of Congess and the presidency. For three years, their party has enjoyed majority power in the House. What the progressive Democrats got out of all that: absolutely nothing . . .
On the rank and file level, what if all the progressive Democat voters registered Green Pary tomorrow? Think they'd get the DIC's attention?

First of all, the Green party authentically represents the values the progrssive Democrats ostensibly espouse--peace, justice, small d democracy--so it's not as if these stranded Democrats would have some kind of political heart attack over changing registration. After all, their party is the historic party of segregation, and Franklin D Roosevelt couldn't even get an anti-lynching law passed by his Democratic Congress. Seventy years later, this same party continues to approve the over-bloated imperial war budget at the expense of critical assistance to economically destroyed non-white cities like New Orleans and Detroit. Also, for all the recent Democratic Party moaning about the Supreme Court decision to legally install the corporate state, let's not forget that 22 of their senators voted to confirm Chief Justice Roberts.

MA: Independent Seeks To Build Independent Party

From the Patriot Ledger:

A Marshfield businessman and one-time state representative candidate thinks the time is right to revive the “independent” party label in Massachusetts.
John Valianti, who lost to state Rep. James Cantwell in 2008, has filed papers with the Secretary of State’s office seeking to certify the Massachusetts Independent Party as an official designation. “The majority of the folks right now are independent, so you could really say we’re not being represented by either party now,” Valianti said. “There needs to be a home for the independents to go to.”  Registered voters unaffiliated with a political party – officially known as “unenrolled” voters – comprise 51 percent of the Bay State electorate. Democrats make up 37 percent and Republicans 12 percent of voters.
The seeds of the new party grew out of a series of meetings of 10 local political activists, some of whom worked on Valianti’s campaign and that of independent candidate for governor Christy Mihos.  A statement of principles released by Valianti this week supports a generally conservative and libertarian agenda, opposing tax increases and limiting the influence of lobbyist and special interest groups.

Feb 25, 2010

GA: Libertarian to Run for State School Superintendent

From reader Shane Bruce, via email, who also provided the links below:
Libertarian Kira Willis has declared her Candidacy for State School Superintendent in the Great State of Georgia. She takes the field this fall with  Libertarian Candidate for Governor John Monds, Libertarian Candidate for US Senate Chuck Donovan and Libertarian Candidate David Chastain for Secretary of State to bring change to Georgia.
From SGWA Politics:
Kira Willis, a 17 year veteran classroom teacher from Roswell, has entered the State School Superintendent race and is seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. Kira is running on what she calls the “ABCs of Education”: Accountability, Budget, and Community. As a classroom teacher, Kira knows that accountability cannot just mean more regulations on teachers and schools, but that each stakeholder in education should be held accountable for their own products. These stakeholders are students, parents, teachers, schools, and communities. From her website:
What was once a partnership between the school and home has become a disenfranchised blame game. Parents have been disregarded by the schools and the state as irrelevant to their children’s education. All parents have both a right and a responsibility to their children’s schooling. I can’t think of any parent who does not want his child to succeed. As State School Superintendent, I want to help mend the bridge between the school and the home. This means having parents accountable for their children coming to school ready to learn. It means that parents must help the school in teaching their young people.
For more on GA Libertarian politics, be sure to check out Bludgeon and Skewer.

Feb 24, 2010

WA: Constitution Party to Join Freedom Festival

From the CP of WA blog:

Thur, Feb 25, 6:30pm
Greyhound Park/Event Center
5100 W. Riverbend Ave. Post Falls, ID

The theme of the event is “The Power of One”.
Ever been frustrated by an unresponsive elected official? Overwhelmed by an overzealous government agency? Angered by bureaucratic inertia? Become empowered! Learn how others in your state and community have made a difference in overcoming these obstacles. We are proud to present three grassroots activists with inspiring stories to share:

• Tim Eyman—Washington State’s “Initiative King”
• Sharon Hanek—”The Research Mom”
• Dick Phenneger—Idaho’s “Veterans Advocate”

Learn about their achievements and what you can do to bring real change to America. Find out how you too, can make a difference.

WI: Independent to Walk for State Legislature

Apparently, walking for office is beginning to catch on.  From the Gazette Xtra:
Most candidates run for office. Matt Gaboda hopes to walk to victory.  Gaboda, who lives in the Rock County township of Center, is an independent candidate for the 43rd Assembly District seat now held by Kim Hixson, D-Whitewater. Hixson announced earlier he will seek re-election. Gaboda plans to walk through much of the 43rd district, from Orfordville to Whitewater, in one day. That day is April 3, also known as 4/3. Gaboda is working the numbers but also the English language in this effort. He sent out a news release saying he will do the legwork for constituents and go the extra mile for them in Madison.

RI: Poll Puts Independent Chaffee in Lead in Gubernatorial Contest

From the ProJo Blogs:
General Treasurer Democrat Frank Caprio appears to be leading the state's attorney general, Patrick C. Lynch, among Democratic gubernatorial primary voters.  But at a time when Rhode Island voters seem to have very little confidence in the major political parties, former U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, running as an independent for governor, could beat either one of them, according to the latest Brown University poll. .  . .  If he were matched up against Caprio and Republican John Robitaille, who until recently was Governor Carcieri's communications director, Chafee would lead 33.8 percent, to 28.3 percent for Caprio, 12.1 percent for Robitaille and 25.8 percent undecided. If Lynch emerged as the Democratic primary victor, Chafee would lead by a wider margin with 32.9 percent of the potential vote, to 17.7 percent for Lynch and 13.7 percent for Robitaille.

MO: Green Party Candidate for US Senate Intends to Walk Entire State

From the SouthEast Missourian:
Tuesday was the first day for Missouri political hopefuls to register to run for office in the August primary election. While the recognized parties will hold primaries, the Progressive Party of Missouri will circulate petitions to gather 10,000 verified signatures in order to gain ballot access. Midge Potts, the Co-Chair of the Progressive Party of Missouri, as well as a delegate to the Green Party of the United States Coordinating Committee, announced in June 2009 that she would seek the the US Senate Seat being vacated by Kit Bond. Tuesday she released a statement proclaiming that she intends to run a non-traditional campaign by walking the state in order to discuss issues of concern to Missourians in their own communities.
"In 1976, Joe Teasdale, a then unknown entity in the Missouri political arena, walked the state on his way to winning the governor's race against Republican incumbent, Kit Bond," Said Ms. Potts, "I intend on replicating the feat of 'Walking Joe' by winning the hearts and minds of Missouri voters in a series of walks and bike rides that will highlight a number of issues leading up to the November 2nd general election." Potts added, "The only way an alternative party candidate can compete against the special interest money spent by career politicians such as Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan, is to bi-pass traditional campaign outreach through directly engaging people with innovative ideas and raw creativity."

UK Green Party Opposes Gay Marriage Ban in Places of Worship

From the Digital Journal:
Britain’s Green Party has become the first and so far only political grouping to officially support an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship.  When civil partnerships for same-sex couples became active in 2005, it was specifically stated that no religious building or religious language should be used, which has led to campaigns by several groups since then. However, the new Green Party policy would allow gay-affirmative churches, such the Quakers, Unitarians and Metropolitan Community Church, to host civil-partnership ceremonies for the first time. A party conference vote makes the Greens unique among British political parties.

Green Party Organizing and Campaign Workshops Running Free Online

From Green Party Watch:
A recent Campaign School event hosted by the Arkansas Green Party in Little Rock, with presentations by Green Party political director Brent McMillan, is now running on Green Party US livestream in a loop. Green Party Campaign Schools consist of workshops on all aspects of political campaign organizing for candidates, campaign staff, & GP organizers. Thanks to Ken Adler for doing the live camera.

Feb 23, 2010

Political Reform: Change Independents Can Believe In

Independents and Washington's Magic Show, NYC Charter Revision and Nonpartisan Elections, California Prop 14:

If you haven't yet read Jackie Salit's "Independents See Through Washington's Magic Show", here's a link to Chicago online SWNewsHerald, and keeping up with CNN's Broken Government series, transcript of Don Lemon's panel last Sunday on TMV.... And in the area of election reform, attorney Harry Kresky wrote a guest post for The Hankster called "Bloomberg Charter Revision Commission Should Address Nonpartisan Elections", while the discussion of California's Prop 14 continues. Speaking of Prop 14, Richard Winger will write a guest post for The Hankster later this week delineating his position on Prop 14 and open primaries.

IN: Libertarian Party Reaches Out to Disaffected Voters

From the Post-Tribune:

A third political party known for its strong stance against big government, lower taxes and more individual freedom is hoping voters will respond to its message this year.  Lake County Libertarian Party chairman Jeff Duensing, an electrician who lives in Lake Dalecarlia, said he got into fighting the country's two-party system because of his son.  "I can't let him grow up in what this country's become -- a socialist country and a police state," he said, giving as examples the bailout of big banks and AIG, and the Patriot Act. He hopes a Libertarian Party town hall meeting at the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library will draw people who want to learn about the group that has opposed traditional national and state politics since long before Tea Parties. He said the party wants to get rid of laws that infringe on things that it feels people should have the right to decide for themselves.

Pirate Party Explains Import of Leaked Sections from Secret ACTA Negotiations

From the US Pirate Party blog
I know that many of you have been reading about the secret ACTA negotiations that are going on currently, and we found a leaked portion of those agreements, the section that is probably the most important to us in our circles: The Digital Environment section (Article 2.17). I felt that it was important to you to explain what all this legal talk means, and how it effects you . . . The United States of America's Copyright Law will be dictated by the laws of everyone else. . . . The United States laws on how we handle criminals can be circumvented by declaring people who commit copyright infringement 'in violation of international law', and thus would be subject to a different form of due-process and punishment than traditional federal and state laws would enforce. . . . Websites like YouTube (and especially smaller alternatives) will be put out out of business, because they will be forced to develop expensive systems, and spend their time and resources on copyright infringement prevention . . . . There have been a variety of criticisms of the WIPO Treaty, including that it is too broad (for example in its prohibition of circumvention of technical protection measures, even where such circumvention is used in the pursuit of legal and fair use rights) and that it applies a 'one size fits all' standard to all signatory countries despite widely differing stages of economic development and knowledge industry. . . . Even if you want to make backups of the movies and music you already own, you can be brought up on criminal charges. If you are a linux user, you would not be able to legally watch DVDs on your computer.

KY: Paper Profiles Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America

From the Courier Journal:
The socialist agenda that some conservatives see lurking around every corner, hidden in everything from health insurance reform to stimulus spending to President Obama's policies, exasperates Louisvillian Fred Hicks.  As the leader of a local socialist group, Hicks says the use of the “S-word” as a political smear is a gross mischaracterization that ignores the reality that socialism remains a lonely movement, with his 40-person group struggling to get more than a dozen people to attend a meeting. And yet while the term's recent popularity irks Hicks, the retired professor says it's also beginning to have an unexpected result: It's bringing newfound interest and attention to his cause.  “Suddenly there are more people who want to know what it actually is,” said Hicks, head of the Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, whose members seek more government regulation of business, health care and wages.  Nationwide, the Democratic Socialists of America partly credits the term's usage with a 64 percent rise in memberships between 2008 and 2009. The party now has nearly 7,000 U.S. members, and the 1,000-member Socialist Party USA has seen new chapters pop up in Kansas and Oklahoma.

RI: Multi-Partisan Forum for Gubernatorial Candidates

From the ProJo blog:
Frank Caprio's campaign confirmed this afternoon that he will join a crowd of gubernatorial hopefuls at a "Meet the Candidates" forum Wednesday night, offering the public its first opportunity to watch the key Democrat face off against the leading independent, Republican and Moderate Party candidates. . . . Organizers for the event in question -- hosted by the Rhode Island Voter Coalition, which describes itself as non-partisan and has participated in various Tea Party events -- did not initially include Caprio among the list of participants. Those gubernatorial candidates confirmed in a Friday press release included independent candidate Lincoln Chafee, Republican John Robitaille and Moderate Party candidate Kenneth Block.

Jesse Ventura Encourages Support for Third Parties

Feb 22, 2010

FL: Constitution Party Candidate for US Senate, Bernie De Castro

From the Constitution Party discussion forum:
Ocala, Florida - On the heels of the recent GOP win in Massachusetts, US Senate Candidate Bernie DeCastro decided to join The Constitution Party. DeCastro announced to his supporters, “After the Scott Brown victory, I knew I could no longer align myself with an unprincipled party. Once again the GOP embraces a candidate with left of center ideals. Scott Brown’s pro-choice and pro gay-marriage stance is not a victory for Constitutional Conservatives.”

While the Republican Party is busy luring Tea Party groups into its fold, the Constitution Party, America's true conservative party, continues to stress a return to the US Constitution, as the answer to our economic woes and a way to halt the rapid rise of Government control over the American people.

"I refuse to get enmeshed into the corruption of the two party systems. To continue doing the same thing and expect a different result is the definition of insanity", said DeCastro. "If you support the Constitution, you should consider joining the Constitution Party yourself," he encouraged followers in a recent newsletter.

NY: Constitution Party Candidate for US Senate, Jan Johnson

From the Vass Political Blog:

Ms. Johnson is also competing for the junior NY Senate seat. She represents the Constitution Party. I will provide part of the email I received from her on her intentions:
“I just finished reading your most enlightening article regarding your emails to both Senators Gillibrand/Schumer… just like you I am also someone who has lived in NY for 31 years; 18 of those years has been in the 8th District which these two Senators “represent” the people. Just an FYI: I am running for the U.S. Senate against Gillibrand in the November Election. I will be running on the Constitution Party Platform. Please check out our website: http://www.constitutionparty.com/.

CA: Green Party Candidate for Assembly 1st District

From High Bold Tage:
William Meyers for California Assembly 2010 
The governance of California and our nation by the Democratic and Republican Parties has been a disaster. I want to represent you, the citizens of the 1st district (Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Sonoma and Lake Counties) in the California Assembly in Sacramento. I am proudly running as a member of the Green Party.
I can help lead our citizens out of the quagmire of bad government. I know how to break up political logjams, so we can achieve:
  • A peaceful society, where tax dollars can go to schools, not prisons and war
  • Balanced, on time California state budgets every year
  • An economy with sustainable, productive jobs that are locally-based but globally competitive
  • Better protection of the environment at a reduced cost to taxpayers and businesses
  • More effective use of money for public education and social work
  • Less crime through focused enforcement, reduction of black-market economies, and effective rehabilitation
  • Ultimately, lower and fairer taxes after special-interest funding and loopholes are eliminated
My supporters are currently collecting signatures of Green Party registered voters so I can qualify for the ballot. After qualifying I will make an official declaration of candidacy. I will also open a campaign-specific web site, and put a link to it here.
I would be happy to have your help. Contact me at bill@iiipublishing.com or 707-882-1818

NY: Former Green Party VP Candidate, Rosa Clemente, to Run for State Senate

From Davey's Hip Hop Corner:
Renowned speaker, community organizer, journalist, radio show host & 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente is running for New York State Senate in the Bronx!
This important campaign is a concerted effort with the Black & Brown power movements and working class people of the world uniting for political power. Join Rosa and special guest performers and speakers for a night of change. Friends of Rosa Clemente and the Bronx Green Party are asking supporters to donate generously up to the legal amount and come prepared to join the team as we embark on a fun and exciting grassroots campaign.

CO: Independent Seeks to Ease Ballot Access Restrictions

The Vail Daily reports on the efforts of independent legislator Kathleen Curry to ease ballot access restrictions in the state:
The only unaffiliated member in Colorado's Legislature wants to make it easier for other independent candidates to get on the ballot, but she needs the support of the two-party system from which she walked away. Rep. Kathleen Curry, a rancher from Gunnison, was a Democrat until last year when she announced she didn't fit into either party and was switching her affiliation to unaffiliated. But her switch came too late for her to win a spot on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate and now, after winning election three times as a Democrat, she's facing the prospect of mounting a write-in campaign for re-election.  Curry is asking lawmakers to shorten the waiting time for unnaffiliated and minor party members to get on the ballot but the bill, up for its first vote on Monday, wouldn't apply to her.  About a third of Colorado voters are registered as unaffiliated voters and they're courted by the major parties in tight races. Unaffiliated candidates in state races are more rare and Colorado is one of eight states to require that independent candidates show they haven't been affiliated with a party for a certain length of time.

ME: University Paper Profiles Independent Candidate for Governor Alex Hammer

From the Maine Campus:
Alex Hammer, an independent candidate in the November 2010 Maine gubernatorial election, is not new to the race for Maine’s top executive position. He hopes his campaign will go better this time around. In November 2005, two weeks after his announcement for candidacy for the 2006 election, he was hit by a pickup truck in his home city of Bangor. He spent 29 days in the hospital and was in physical therapy for almost a year and a half. The accident, he said, ended his campaign before it really started. Hammer said he used the time to prepare for another run for the Blaine House. “I’ve spoken to thousands of Mainers over the past three or four years. I’ve spoken to probably 50 or 100 legislators. I’ve spoken to business and political leaders across the state,” Hammer said. These conversations led him to draw his own conclusions about Maine’s state of affairs in the state. “I think Maine is doing poorly,” Hammer said. He said that he has sensed a general frustration in the Maine people with regard to state government. Education is “paramount” to Maine’s economic future, Hammer said, and the University of Maine system is achieving mixed results.

OH: Why Support Green Party Candidate Dennis Spisak for Governor?

At Corrente, Michael Kwiatkowski makes the case:
Being from Ohio, elections here are especially important to me as they have a more direct impact on the Buckeye State than do federal elections. So it was heartening to read at USelections.com that there is an independent candidate from the left who is running for governor and who isn't culled from the pools of Big Business. His name is Dennis Spisak, and he is running for governor this year. You can check out his web site by clicking this LINK.  Other candidates for governor are incumbent and Democrat Ted Strickland, Republican and businessboy John Kasich, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. president in 2000, and building contractor Ken Matesz on the Libertarian Party ticket.  I am writing in support of Dennis Spisak because Governor Strickland has done a thoroughly mediocre job and we need someone in office who will better represent the public interest . . . Given the choice among the good, the bad, and the mediocre, Ohioans should rally behind the good, and that is personified in Dennis Spisak.

Feb 21, 2010

The End of Duopoly: Yes, Government is Broken. Now What?

Independents have had a busy week! CNN appears to be developing an independent track with the Don Lemon independent panel of Dr. Omar AliJoe Gandelman and Nicole Kurokawa --- looking forward to tonight's broadcasSunday (6:20-6:40), February 21st, to discuss "Broken Government" from an independents' perspective ... Wish I could easily find a link but you might have to Go Fish....

And then there's the OpEds by Jackie Salit, a leading independent activist-analyst in theChristian Science Monitor "Tea Party Activists: Don't Confuse Them With Independents" andHuffington Post "Independents See Through Washington's Magic Show" about the independent movement relative to both Barack Obama's base of support and Tea Party Republicans...

A critical issue for independents this year is: Will we or won't we be invited to the party? (HINT: Don't hold your breath! Most independents don't like parties, partisanship and the rules that come with them.) Open primaries is on the political reform agenda in no less than 8 states, with nonpartisan independent activists on the ground challenging and chipping away at discriminatory legislation and party rules that prevent independent voters from participating, AND not an insignificant point, prevent innovation in our dysfunctional democracy. 
  • Be sure to read up on the fight in California over Prop 14, the so-called "Top Two" Primary referendum. The fight boils down to whether the parties or the people have the legal right to determine our voting process. Unfortunately, IMnsHO (In My not so Humble Opinion) Richard Winger, the country's premier ballot access expert, opposes open primaries because minor parties (he speaks for the Libertarian Party) would have to run against the 'big guys' in the first round of voting. Richard is not alone -- Bob Cuddy writes (presumably) from a Libertarian Party perspective, and Michael Rosenattorney in Carmel Valley and the secretary of the San Diego County Republican Party. 

And finally, is the Tea Party independent? Well, no. But they might well pull the Repubs more to the right...
More independent voter news at The Hankster...

Libertarian Party: Big Government Activists at Home in Republican Party

From a Libertarian Party press release:
I'm sure we'll hear an awful lot about "limited government" from the mouths of CPAC politicians over the next few days. If I had a nickel every time a conservative said "limited government" and didn't mean it, I'd be a very rich man.
Unlike libertarians, most conservatives simply don't want small government. They want their own version of big government. Of course, they have done a pretty good job of fooling American voters for decades by repeating the phrases "limited government" and "small government" like a hypnotic chant.
It's interesting that conservatives only notice "big government" when it's something their political enemies want. When conservatives want it, apparently it doesn't count.

  • If a conservative wants a trillion-dollar foreign war, that doesn't count.
  • If a conservative wants a 700-billion-dollar bank bailout, that doesn't count.
  • If a conservative wants to spend billions fighting a needless and destructive War on Drugs, that doesn't count.
  • If a conservative wants to spend billions building border fences, that doesn't count.
  • If a conservative wants to "protect" the huge, unjust, and terribly inefficient Social Security and Medicare programs, that doesn't count.
  • If a conservative wants billions in farm subsidies, that doesn't count.
It's truly amazing how many things "don't count."
Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh can't ever be satisfied with enough military spending and foreign wars.
Conservatives like Mitt Romney want to force everyone to buy health insurance.
Conservatives like George W. Bush -- well, his list of supporting big-government programs is almost endless.
Ronald Reagan, often praised as an icon of conservatism, signed massive spending bills that made his the biggest-spending administration (as a percentage of GDP) since World War II.
Some people claim that these big-government supporters aren't "true conservatives." Well, if a person opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposes the War on Drugs, opposes border fences, and opposes mandatory Social Security and Medicare, it's hard to believe that anyone would describe that person as a conservative at all. Most people would say that person is a libertarian (or maybe even a liberal).
Obviously, most liberals don't want limited government either. It's just that their support for big government leans toward massive handout and redistribution programs.
The fact is, liberals and conservatives both want gigantic government. Their visions sometimes look different from each other, but both are huge. The only Americans who truly want small government are libertarians.
 An article posted at CNS News, linked prominently from the Drudge Report, noted that the Obama administration is on track to beat the Franklin Roosevelt administration in terms of average federal spending as a percentage of GDP. However, the article failed to note that the Reagan Administration already beat the Franklin Roosevelt administration easily. Roosevelt's average was 19.4 percent of GDP, while Reagan's average was 22.3 percent of GDP. (Source: White House OMB data)

IL: Tea Party Observer Notes Democrats and Republicans in Coalition Against the Rest of US

From the Rockford Register Star:
I went to a tea party Saturday at Stockholm Inn. . . . Scroggins describes himself as libertarian or constitutionalist, but he’s not a member of the Libertarian Party.  “People think something is wrong with the country, and they have decided to get off the couch and get involved. I was raised in a Democrat home and was a liberal. I believed the Democrats were for the working man, and Republicans were for the rich. I started paying a little more attention to politics in the 1990s, and have come to believe that both parties weren’t doing work for the people.” I think that sums up the feeling a lot of people have: Governments at all levels don’t solve problems, they don’t listen to the voters, they just take more and more in taxes and there’s nothing average people can do about it. Government employee unions dictate the terms of their contracts, the states and the nation are in terrible debt, and people have had — it — up — to — here.

RI: Third Party Necessary Because One-Party State is Unhealthy

At the Providence Journal, Edward Fitzpatrick writes on Robert Clark Corrente's chairmanship of the Rhode Island Moderate Party:
Corrente, Rhode Island’s U.S. Attorney from 2004 to 2009, is taking over as chairman of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island, aiming to turn a new party (which won official recognition in August) into a credible alternative to a Democratic Party that has dominated state politics for decades. So while he won’t be rowing with a rhino aboard, he will be trying to dislodge, or at least disconcert, an enormous Democratic donkey.  Corrente acknowledged he could have picked an easier task, saying, “No one will accuse me of cherry picking this.” So why did he take it on? “Needs to get done,” he replied. “Nobody’s doing it.” It needs to get done, Corrente said, because single-party rule is not healthy for Rhode Island. The biggest problem is that single-party dominance creates “an atmosphere of inevitability” in which people figure it’s not worth running for office, getting involved in politics or even voting because the outcome is inevitable, he said. “And as soon as that culture of inevitability sets in it necessarily creates just an enormous amount of apathy.”

Feb 20, 2010

NV: Thirteen Independent and Third Party Candidates to Appear on Ballot

From KTVN:
The secretary of state's office says 13 minor party or nonpartisan candidates have qualified to appear on this year's election ballot in Nevada. 
Follow the link for details.

IL: Green Party Candidate Urges Independence from Democratic-Republican Machine

From a letter likely by Green Party congressional candidate, Dan Kairis, to the editor of the Daily Herald:
The primary election is finally over. The Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates spent millions of dollars trying to convince you, the Illinois voters, that they are the answer to the state's numerous problems. The millions of special interest money spent managed to generate only a 20 percent voter turnout for the Illinois primary election. That means that four out of every five Illinois voters chose not to buy what either party was trying to sell.
There were plenty of candidates for each of the major senatorial, congressional and state office races. But the vast majority of you still did not get out and vote. The famous quote: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," seems quite relevant. Maybe Illinois voters are getting smarter. We have all seen the Democrats and the Republicans take their turns at being the majority. And we have witnessed the scandals and corruption that have continued no matter which party has been in charge.
Fortunately in November you will have the opportunity to break free of the election stranglehold the Democrats and Republicans have had for so long. Both parties tried, but could not keep the Illinois Green Party off November's ballot. Their restrictive election laws legislation, their frivolous objections to valid petitions, and all of their other tricks failed to keep the Green Party statewide slate, Congressional and other candidates from the ballot.
It will be up to you, the 80 percent of voters who did not vote in the primary, to decide in what direction Illinois will go next. You can vote Republican, you can vote Democrat, or you can stay home again, and nothing will change. Or you can vote for Green Party candidates and send the message that Illinois deserves something better than what the "good old boys" keep offering its citizens.

MO: Constitution Party Establishes New County Committee

From the Sedalia Democrat:

Political activists in Pettis County are seeking to capitalize on voter frustration with the two major parties with the establishment of a county committee for the Constitution Party.  The party, which stresses strict adherence to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and following the intent of the Founding Fathers, is rebuilding its state party infrastructure after it lost ballot access in 2004. The party’s state chairwoman, Donna Ivanovich, said the party’s showing in the 2008 state treasurer’s race — where the party’s candidate, Rod Farthing, secured a little more than 2 percent of the vote — had opened the door for re-certification. The party was originally recognized in 1992. The Secretary of State’s Office officially re-certified the party on July 2, 2008. . .  . Curtis Shipman, the party’s Pettis County chairman, blasted Democrats as “standing for immorality” for their support of gay rights and abortion access and was equally critical of Republicans, who “tend to lean more toward people who have a pocket full of money.”

Constitution Party of Missouri Denounces GOP Hijacking of Tea Party Movement

From the CPMO:
The Tea Party needs to make a choice, but not from within the two-party system that Palin claims we are stuck with. The Tea Party needs to decide right now whether they are going to let this movement be stolen by failed establishment candidates, or whether or not it is going to press forward and elect independent and third party candidates. We do have choices, and they are not limited to Republicans and Democrats. The Tea Party, from its beginning, was formed in response to the failure of both parties to listen to the will of the people.  For Sarah Palin to suggest that we should pick between those same two failed parties is an insult. The rank in file members of the Tea Party movement should throw their current leaders out on their ear for allowing a movement of independents and Constitutionalists to be highjacked by either party.

Feb 19, 2010

OH: Wide Array of Third Party Candidates on the Ballot

The Daily Record relays the results of candidate petition filings:
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland will seek re-election, running with former Columbus-area judge Yvette McGee Brown. On the Republican side, former Congressman John Kasich and his running mate, state Auditor Mary Taylor, are challenging. Both tickets are unopposed in the primary.
Other candidates running for the state's top office include Dennis Spisak and running mate Anita Rios, representing the Green Party; and Libertarians Ken Matesz and running mate Ann Leech.
In other races:
-- Four Democrats are seeking their party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican George Voinovich: Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, a former lawmaker and state attorney general: Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a former Franklin County judge; Columbus-area resident Traci Johnson; and Lyndhurst resident Charlena Renee Bradley.
Former Congressman and Bush administration official Rob Portman is unopposed in the Republican primary, after Tom Ganley, a businessman from northeastern Ohio, opted to run for the U.S. House instead.
Socialist Party candidate Daniel H. LaBotz, Libertarian Steven Linnabary and the Constitution Party's Eric Deaton also filed to seek the seat.
-- Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray will seek re-election. He won the seat in 2008 to finish the term of former Attorney General Marc Dann. Cordray is unopposed in the primary.
Former U.S. Sen. and Congressman Mike DeWine will face Steve Christopher, an attorney and township trustee from Hardin County, in the Republican primary.
Constitution Party candidate Robert Owens and Libertarian Marc Allan Feldman also filed for the seat.
-- Four candidates are running to replace Brunner as Secretary of State.
Former House Speaker and current state Sen. Jon Husted will face Sandra O'Brien in the Republican primary. O'Brien ran for state treasurer in 2006.
Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, clerk of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, is uncontested in the Democratic primary.
Libertarian Charles Earl also filed for the seat.
-- Dave Yost, Republican prosecutor from Delaware County and former county auditor there, will face state Rep. Seth Morgan, from the Dayton area, in the Republican primary for state auditor.
Democratic Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper is unopposed.
Libertarian L. Michael Howard also filed for the seat.
-- Both Democratic incumbent Kevin Boyce and Republican state Rep. Josh Mandel are unopposed in their primaries for state treasurer.
Libertarian Matthew Cantrell also filed for the seat.

OH: Libertarian Enters House Race in 6th CD

From the Salem News:
Two more people filed candidacy petitions to run for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, neither of whom were named Jim Traficant.  Republican Richard Stobbs and Libertarian Martin Elsass filed petitions with the Columbiana County Board of Elections on Thursday, the deadline for candidates wishing to run in the May 4 primary election. . . . Elsass, 35, of Columbiana, is a certified auto mechanic who, among many other jobs in a variety of fields, once worked as booking agent for singer David Allan Coe. He is running in the Libertarian Party primary against Cory McCusker of Poland.

MA: Independent to Challenge Incumbent Democrat in State House

From the Sun Chronicle
A political newcomer is running as an independent for the state representative seat held by Bill Bowles.  James Connolly, 43, of 17 Alfred St., has pulled nomination papers for the Second Bristol seat in the state House of Representatives, according to the Attleboro election department.  Connolly said Thursday that the race will be his first foray into politics, but he is excited about the challenge.

Feb 18, 2010

Bangor Daily News: Third Parties Needed

From an editorial at the Bangor Daily News:
It’s a long shot, but the two-party standoff would end if another party asserted itself. The Tea Party may provide that impetus, although its recent convention was more of an Obama-bashing festival. Or maybe the Libertarian Party, which saw new life in the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul. The Green Party also could provide a third way.
When the views of Ralph Nader, said to be on the far left, and Pat Buchanan, said to be on the far right, begin to sound harmonious on some issues, it suggests Democrats and Republicans have imposed a two-dimensional view of politics that is not accurate. A viable centrist or other third party could force a sort of parliamentary approach in Congress, creating coalitions and compromise.

UK Political Observer on the US Greens: Simply Shocking

From the Daily Planet blog:
Recently I was lucky enough to attend and speak at a State Committee meeting for the New York state Green Party. The gathering was a managable size and well-defined, with delegates having been elected from various areas, some holding proxies for absent colleagues; it shared similarities with - I imagine - Green Party meetings around the globe: a chair valiantly maintaining order against some members’ tendencies to talk too much, an imposingly long agenda and a tasty shared lunch. I was impressed however by the members’ attempts to keep a sense of discipline in the face of what is a state-imposed uphill struggle: they’re not even on the ballot paper . . . For all the strategy and political debates the US Greens might want to have, they acknowledge that this one thing comes before all that . . .
One of the things that shocked me most is the desperate underdevelopment of any national or federal party: state parties seem fairly self-contained, and if anything members regard “national” activity - when it happens - as interfering with state autonomy. Of course this is arguably a “green” attitude and, dare I say, an American attitude. But when I learned that the national party has literally a handful of staff members, that there is no nationally-used Green Party “brand”, no logo, no strapline, no message, and no national figurehead or even mandated public figures, my reaction was one of horror.

ND: Fargo City Commissioner to Run for State House as Independent

From Inforum:
Fargo City Commissioner Mike Williams announced today he will run as an independent candidate for North Dakota’s House of Representatives in November. Williams will vie for one of two District 11 seats currently held by Reps. Mary Ekstrom and Scot Kelsh, both Democrats.

SC: Independence Party Candidate for 1-CD

From the South Carolina Radio Network:
There are currently a dozen candidates in the race for the First Congressional District seat after Congressman Henry Brown announced his retirement. There is only one candidate that is representing the Independence Party. Jimmy Wood says why he’s decided to run: “I see a lot of headlines, I see a lot of chatter on Fox News and other organizations where the Republican party is reaching out to the Tea Party candidates. They are trying to secure that conservative base of power back into their grasp. I believe with all of my heart it’s a little bit too late. I think for years the Republicans have looked at the conservative branch of our society and they’ve said ‘if you don’t like where we are going, where else are you going to go?’ Well, I think recently they’ve seen where we are going to go,” says Wood.

Feb 17, 2010

MA: College Student to Run for State Legislature as Independent Libertarian

From the Metro West Daily News:
Although he may not have much experience, a 19-year-old Holliston resident said he'll run against state Rep. Carolyn Dykema because he's tired of political business as usual.
"On a nationwide scale, personally I'm kind of fed up with the way things are going," said Jonathan Loya, a 19-year old political science major at UMass-Lowell. "So I said, 'You know what? I'm gonna go for it."' Loya, who is running as an independent, says the two-party system is broken. He says a fresh, independent path needs to be taken in solving the state's and the country's problems. Loya, a member of the Libertarian Party state committee, is focusing his campaign around a handful of issues: bringing down taxes, eliminating wasteful spending, creating jobs, reforming education and eliminating environmental hazards.

NJ: Libertarian Party Forces Repeal of Authoritarian Law

From NJ.com:
Guttenberg is the latest town to repeal "outdated" ordinances for loitering and disorderly persons at the request of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project.

The party's goal is to remove the ordinances because there is no clear victims or clearly defined crime. Instead, it gives police another mechanism to make unnecessary arrests or harass and disperse people whose presence they dislike, John Paff, chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party said.

MO: Constitution Party to Appear for First Time on State Ballot

From the BolivarMo News:
Filing opens Tuesday, Feb. 23, for the August primary election of county and state offices . . . Candidates may file until 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 30.  The Constitution Party will make its debut as an established political party in Missouri, according to the Missouri secretary of state’s office. The party petitioned to be on the ballot in 2008 and one of the party’s candidates for statewide office received more than 2 percent of the votes cast for that office.

TN: Independent Candidate for Congress Puts Out New Web Ad

At the Nashville Post Politics blog, Kleinheider relays a video from independent candidate for congress Donn Janes, writing:

8th District congressional candidate Donn Janes may be a man of no party and little cash but he has put together a pretty solid web advertisement that should get pretty wide distribution.

Modern Whigs: Methodology over Ideology

The Modern Whig Party has released a number of updates on the organization's activities at both the state and national level:
Over the past several months, state and national leadership have been busy solidifying the foundation and substance in order to compete as a viable and mainstream political movement. As we have always said to our thousands of members, we are not delusional as to the road ahead, but rather optimistic that a solid message, foundation and savvy will serve to continue getting the word out. The mission of this movement was always to operate methodically and gradually in order to ultimately sustain viability and longevity. What happened was that the party actually grew too fast as massive influxes of people flooded our systems at various times. The result was that this young, moderate revived movement did not have the infrastructure in place to handle the load. That is now changing.

We are set to announce the addition of new state chapters and quality leaders that come from as diverse backgrounds as the recipients of this message. One such leader is even a direct descendant of a former President of the United States who was elected as a Whig, and serves as a bridge between the historic party and its national modern reincarnation. Moreover, Whig Associations are forming across the country. For example, the Virginia Whigs are pioneering a Health Care Association. A novel approach to party building and individual empowerment entitled "Methodology over Ideology" is currently being tested and spearheaded by the thriving Georgia Whig Party. Meanwhile, states such as California continue to seek ballot registration while Missouri and Texas plan statewide meetings.

VT: Left Coalition in Support of Local Candidate

Vermont's Liberty Union Party publishes an interview with Dave van Deusen, a candidate for a local select board, who "has been endorsed by the Vermont Liberty Union Party, the Vermont Progressive Party, the Socialist Party USA, and the Green Mountain Labor Council AFL-CIO."

CA: Gubernatorial Candidates Stewart Alexander (P&F) Takes Meg Whitman (R) to Task

Afro-Articles publishes a column by Peace and Freedom Party candidate for governor of California, Stewart Alexander:
California's Governor Race: Extreme Sides on Border Issues -- The candidates for California's next governor will be faced with many challenging issues; a state budget crisis, high unemployment, a housing foreclosure crisis, a crisis in education, and how to address the issue of immigration in the state with the largest population of illegal immigrants in the United States. On immigration, Republican candidate Meg Whitman is proposing tighter border enforcement and prosecuting illegal aliens. Stewart Alexander, a PFP Candidate for California Governor, says "Whitman's position on immigration is racist and discriminates against Mexican-Americans."

Feb 16, 2010

Thinking beyond the two party system

This piece was written as part of GreenChange Blog Action Day. Learn more here.

I'm not going to pull any punches here. I detest the two party system. I believe that it undermines representative government. It makes our government more responsive to corporations than to citizens. It decreases the chances of progress and it results in many good ideas being shut out of the national political debate.

The limits imposed on this nation by the two party system are slowly leading to its demise. Partisan gridlock in Washington, outright corruption, the absurd difficulty of kicking out incumbents, corporate control of Washington, and the infamous backwardness of many local governments (among many things) are all symptoms of this same disease. And I do not use that language lightly.

Many have said that there is no difference between the two major parties. This is obviously false. However, they can accurately be described as two sides of the same corporatist coin. On one side of the coin, Republicans give away billions to the "defense" industry and appoint lobbyists to head government agencies and are just blatantly corrupt. And when you flip it over, Democrats...well, give away billions to the "defense" industry and appoint lobbyists to head government agencies and are just blatantly corrupt. Sure, there are many differences, too - Republicans generally support less regulation, Democrats tend to be pro-choice, Democrats are generally more supportive of health care reform attempts, and Republicans have recently turned into the party of Oppose Anything That Would Vindicate Obama. In the words of Bill Maher,

We have a center-right party and a crazy party. Over the last 30 years, the Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital.

These are not great choices. And that's the essence of the duopoly on politics: it limits voters' choices to the point of them not having a very representative government. When they want climate change legislation, they get nothing. When they want single payer, they get nothing. When they want to end the war in Iraq, they get an increase of military contractors.

This limitation of choice is not a coincidence. And that brings me to my first bullet point...


Incumbent politicians - and their parties - are looking out for their own interests, not yours!

Basically what I'm saying here is that the two party system is not as much of a naturally occurring phenomenon as many people believe it is. There are many laws and practices in place that create a vicious cycle of third party failure. As election law expert Richard Winger points out,

The U.S. voter has less choice for whom to vote than his great-grandfather did.

Although the U.S. has made great strides during the 20th century in enfranchising citizens who formerly were denied the right to vote (women, blacks, poor people), we have been losing ground on the parallel problem of what choice a voter has, once he gets a ballot.

In the 1896 general election, every single congressional district in the nation had at least two candidates on the ballot. The average district had 3.1 candidates on the ballot.

In the 1912 general election, the average election ballot had 4.1 candidates for Congress. But in 1984, there were only 2.3 candidates for Congress on the typical general election ballot, and one-ninth of the districts (49 out of 435) had only one candidate on the ballot.

The modern-day voter's choice is even more limited in state legislative races. In 1984 6,881 seats were at stake. An astounding 2,815 (41 percent) had only one candidate per position on the ballot.

In some important states, such as Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida, over half of the legislators were elected with no one on the ballot against them.

The blame for the declining number of choices on our ballots can be laid squarely at the feet of state legislators. Many of them have made it far too difficult for candidates to get on the ballot.

These laws and practices include, but are not limited to:

Ballot access laws. These are laws that set up varying benchmarks that a candidate must meet in order to appear on the ballot. They differ from state to state and from office to office and are harshest against third party candidates. Other than a cursory rule for candidates to register for the ballot, it's unclear what the purpose of these laws are, other than restricting competition and keeping incumbents safe. As Daily Kos user Big Tex states (I highly encourage you to read the whole piece),

The ballot access barrier isn't the only tool that the Republican/Democratic duopoly has used to maintain its hold on political power, but it has been one of the most important and effective tools in their arsenal. And their control over the workings of the American political system has had an observable degrading effect on democracy in this country: what was once a relatively robust political system with viable minor parties has devolved into a dysfunctional mess plagued by low voter turnout, low turnover, and gridlock. Contrast this with the situation in other democracies, where ballot access thresholds are set much lower and minor parties are a much bigger variable in the political equation. In the UK, for example, where three major political parties and several minor parties have all been able to seat members of parliament, parties don't have to petition to get on the ballot, and are only required to complete a relatively (in comparison with America) simple registration process with the nation's Electoral Commission. The threshold for party ballot access is low enough that there are nearly 400 registered parties in the UK. And individual candidates for parliament in the UK are only required to submit the signatures of 10 registered voters and a £500 deposit.

In fact, these incumbent protection laws are so absurdly stringent that Richard Winger claims they potentially violate an an international agreement.

In reality, America's ballot-access laws are so stringent, and third parties are repressed to such a degree, that the U.S. is probably in violation of the Copenhagen Meeting Document, an international agreement the U.S. signed in 1990 that requires nations to:
"Respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political organizations and provide such political parties and organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on the basis of equal treatment before the law and the authorities."

How does the U.S. violate this agreement? Suppose that a new party were founded in 1994, with popular support that equaled that of the Democratic or Republican Party. In order to contest all the executive and legislative offices up for election on November 8th, 1994, it would need to collect about 4,454,579 valid signatures. And some of these signatures would need to be collected ten months before the election. By contrast, the Democratic and Republican parties would not need to submit any signatures to get themselves on the ballots, and their candidates would need only to collect about 882,484 valid signatures to place themselves on primary ballots.

In another piece, Richard Winger reminds us what is fundamentally wrong about ballot access laws. It is the politicians who are looking after their own interest who are deciding who gets a chance to win the election, not the voters.

We must go back to basics, and re-think the question, "What are ballots for?" Ballots are to permit the voters to vote for the candidates of their choice. If there are voters who wish to vote for a candidate, and that candidate is omitted (against his or her will) from the ballot, then the ballot is faulty. It isn't doing its job. The purpose of ballots is to facilitate the wishes of voters, NOT to control whom they vote for.

Gerrymandering. Now, this isn't necessarily a product of the two party system, but the two party system does a wonderful job of reinforcing it. I have seen many progressives use the argument that if Democrats don't gerrymander then they won't be competitive with Republicans. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the two party system, that may very well be true in today's world. In the words of Steven Hill, in his eye-opening book "Fixing Elections,"

At its best, then, the redistricting process is hardly an innocent one, nor are its outcomes best for American democracy or national policy, despite the claims of the professional political class. In fact, when closely examining the redistricting process...the last thing on anyone's mind, even that of noted political scientists, is the impact of redistricting on voters, on representation, on our democracy - indeed, on our national future. One of the most corrosive effects of...the gerrymandering of legislative districts is its understated impact on the psyche of voters, and whether each individual voter is imbued with an internalized sense that their vote is powerful. During the redistricting process most voters are plunked into safe, one-party districts, and at that moment their vote becomes either superfluous...or impotent...the act of voting becomes a waste of time, and a cruel hoax to their democratic aspirations.

In this case, competition on the ballot isn't the only thing that's harmed. By making the races uncompetitive and guaranteeing that either the incumbent or the incumbent party will have a certain reelection, voters are systematically dis-empowered, and the foundation of republic starts to rot.

And the idea of one party districts brings me to my next point.


We live in a one-party nation.

Once again, don't get the idea that I think we live under the rule of the Warfare Party or the Demopublican Party. I mean that large swaths of the country literally have only one major party. For instance, if Massachusetts had ballot access laws as strict as Pennsylvania's, then the Republican Party would not be qualified for the ballot there. And in 2008, every single county of Oklahoma went to John McCain. In major cities across the United States, there are unbelievably Democratic - that's a big "D" for sure - governments.

First of all, why is this a problem? Well, it means that there is no competition. The nominee of the ruling party is the general election winner nine out of ten times. Make no mistake - this is a symptom of the two party system. The voters become unimportant, because they are offered a choice of "the same old" or "possibly worse" and they pick "the same old." This lack of competition breeds corruption, incompetence, and neglect of the voters' sentiments. There is something fundamentally wrong about a republic that has no competition - it defeats the purpose of being a republic!

But there is potentially a silver lining to this one party rule. It generally means that voters crave a new political voice (I mean, a vast majority of voters want some new parties anyway!). And that new political voice could be a successful, viable third party, as has been in the case in cities like San Francisco and Burlington.

A few months ago I spoke to Terry Bouricius over the phone about the Progressive Party's success in Vermont. Terry is rare, politically. He was actually a successful third party politician, elected to ten years on the Burlington City Council and five terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. He ran as an independent, and then later as a Progressive. Now, the Vermont Progressive Party is the most successful third party in the nation. Terry told me that one of the three most significant factors in that success was that when it started in Burlington, the city was filled to the brim with Democrats and no one else. Voters wanted choices, and they were sick of the comfortable Democrats not listening to their demands. So the Progressives stood up and successfully filled that gap. They now hold the mayoralty of Burlington, along with two city council seats there, five seats in the state House of Representatives, and one seat in the state Senate. Not to mention, although he's not officially affiliated, US Senator Bernie Sanders is closely associated with them. They are a political force in Vermont.

Something similar, albeit not as dramatic, is going on in San Francisco and nearby areas. Although its membership is currently on the wane, the Green Party has developed something of a base in the city. It has elected multiple city supervisors, it almost elected a mayor, and it has produced some very successful Green politicians. Nearby Richmond, with over 100,000 residents, is actually the largest city in US history to have a Green mayor. As can be seen from Green San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi's scuffles with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, having a second party in a big city can provide some much needed political competition.

However, this one party effect is not felt only in a geographic sense. In some cases, there is a social context to it, as well. Take, for instance, African Americans. They tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic. And that's no surprise, when Republicans are calling for a return to literacy tests for voting and resorting to cheap racial shots at the President. So, in our two party system, African Americans are faced with a choice: do you want the party that creates much of its success from race baiting or do you want the other party? Unappealing choices like that result in widespread disillusionment (although that's obviously not the only problem with minorities and voting) and result in the same things as a geographical one party system. Just take a look at a New York Times article from Sunday highlighting the juggernaut of corporate fundraising that is the Congressional Black Caucus:

From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus's political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus's political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network.


In 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent more on the caterer for its signature legislative dinner and conference - nearly $700,000 for an event one organizer called "Hollywood on the Potomac" - than it gave out in scholarships, federal tax records show.


"The claim that this is a truly philanthropic motive is bogus - it's beyond credulity," said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, a nonpartisan group that monitors campaign finance and ethics issues. "Members of Congress should not be allowed to have these links. They provide another pocket, and a very deep pocket, for special-interest money that is intended to benefit and influence officeholders."


So what does a successful third party look like? And what will it take to get there?

In a broad sense, there are two routes one could take toward creating a successful third party (using either a brand new party or an existing one). One is that the party could take a very long term approach. That is, wait for or work toward election reform that makes elections more competitive. This is an area that certainly needs work in our country. As mentioned before, practices like gerrymandering and ballot access reinforce the two party system, and nations like Canada and Britain show that a more vibrant electoral system emerges if these barriers are removed. Another fundamental flaw in how most of our elections are conducted is the "winner take all" (aka first past the post and plurality) method of voting that is employed in a vast majority of US elections. This system is only fair when there are only two choices in an election, thereby creating an incentive for the two party system to exist, and creating the problem of "the spoiler effect" when more than two candidates are in a race. Instant runoff voting for single winner elections is attracting a lot of attention and is being implemented in many cities. Range voting is a system that I personally find interesting. And proportional representation, as seen in a vast majority of representative democracies throughout the world, can be a much more effective system for electing legislatures than the one we have in America. Once some or all of these changes are implemented, it will indeed be much easier for third parties to succeed.

The other route is to take a shot at success in today's political and electoral environment. The way to do that, in my opinion, is to follow the model of the aforementioned Vermont Progressive Party. Although I am young, from what I have seen in the third party world, the key to success seems to be perseverance, having reasonable goals, and - as with any political mission - a bit of luck.

The idea of reasonable goals deserves some consideration. Many people tend to think of third parties in terms of Ross Perot or Ralph Nader and the glamor of the presidency. But that is not where third parties will have their success. If you look throughout history and at modern politics, you inevitably come to the conclusion that third parties must focus on the local and possibly the state level in order to have success. Before a Green Party or Progressive Party or whatever party candidate wins a gubernatorial election, it makes a lot of sense for them to prove themselves politically, build a base, and build "political capital" by winning lower offices throughout that state. The Progressive Party has already proven that this strategy works. If implemented intelligently, I believe that it can work in countless places throughout the United States.


To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them, in a period of rebellion, to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control...
In a two-party system, if both parties ignore public opinion, there is no place voters can turn.

--Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the United States"

Modern Whig Party: the Anti-Tea Party?

From a Modern Whig Party press release, via email:
As the Democrats and Republicans continue to spiral into unprecedented depths of polarization, recent events have highlighted the Tea Party movement as merely a continuation of this ideological rift. The common denominator is that moderate, non-fringe and non-ideological voters are still left without a political home. The national DC-based Modern Whig Party is aiming to become the anti-Tea Party. The Whig Party revival began as a series of political discussions among deployed American service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. When these men and women returned home, they realized that there is a substantial need for a mainstream, non-fringe political movement that caters to individuals that are not defined by ideology but rather common sense fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and a focus on education/scientific advancement over strict social issues among other items. After a brief stint as an advocacy organization on behalf of military families, the Modern Whig movement ultimately branched out to Americans from all walks of life.
Read the rest after the jump.

AR: Constitution Party Candidate for Governor, Frank Gilbert

Arkansas Watch reports:
The Constitution mystery candidate for Governor has gotten less mysterious. It's the former Vice Chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, the former state Chairman of the Libertarian Party, and current Mayor of the town of Tull in Grant County, Frank Gilbert.

UT: Independent Group Begins Major Organizing Drive

From the Salt Lake Tribune:
One grassroots group took advantage of Presidents Day as the opportune time to launch its own brand of revolution. "In honor of the first president, George Washington, it is the right and duty of the people to declare independence from partisan politics," said Dale Ure of The Peoples Right. Citing a section of state law that allows an organization of voters to qualify independent candidates outside the established party system, The Peoples Right announced the Utah Independent Project, with its chief aim to run a no-strings-attached candidate for governor and other high-profile offices. "We are not looking for the traditional politician," said Alton resident Sharla Christie, a regional coordinator for The Peoples Right. With that in mind, the group said that self-nominations will be rejected at its regional and statewide meetings to be held Feb. 27 at the Territorial State House in Fillmore. "We will have 70 to 100 meetings in the next two weeks," Christie said. "We don't run this -- the people do. We just give them the tools."
The group's new Web site, www.utahlive.us is key to building momentum to meet the March 19 filing deadline for state and federal races, Christie said.

Feb 15, 2010

MI: Greens Respond to Governor's State of the State

Reader Lou Novak relays a press release from the Green Party of Michigan responding to Democratic Governor Granholm's State of the State address:
Members of the Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) are disappointed, though not surprised, by the contradictions between Governor Granholm’s talk of a new direction for Michigan’s economy and her obvious support of the same old business as usual . . . and the same old businesses.  “Had Granholm stopped after saying, ‘Our world has changed, utterly; the old Michigan economy is gone,’ I would have been left with the surprising impression that I agreed with her,” says Art Myatt, a GPMI vice-chair and the head of the party’s Platform Committee. “She did not stop. She went on to outline ways to bring back whole chunks of the old economy. Her vision is simply a revived automotive economy that has
less automobile manufacturing in Michigan.”

WA: Green Party Community Events

From the News Tribune:
The Green Party of South Puget Sound plans six community events in the next 10 weeks that explore the recent economic meltdown and what activists hope are solutions.  The series kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria at Lincoln Elementary School, 213 21st Ave. S.E., Olympia.  Peter Dorman, an economics professor at The Evergreen State College, is scheduled to speak in the first session about a “World of Limited Resources,” exploring the contradiction between a world of finite resources and an economic-growth model that assumes no limits.

Libertarian State Leadership Alliance to Meet in Austin This Month

From the LP blog:
Libertarian Leaders from Around the US will Gather in Austin on Feb 26th-28th
The Libertarian State Leadership Alliance (LSLA) is an organization of the Libertarian Party state leaders. The LSLA is organized exclusively for educational purposes, more specifically to coordinate activities and share knowledge among Libertarian Party state chairs and affiliate parties. Visit http://statechairsconference.org/
While voting members consist of the state chairs (or their properly designated substitutes) of affiliate state Libertarian Parties, LSLA functions are enjoyed by a wide variety of national, state and local Libertarian leaders and their family members.
Whether you are interested in education or networking, food or fun, speakers or social activities - please join us at our next conference.

Feb 14, 2010

OK: A Profile of the Oklahoma Pirate Party

Oklahoma Citizen profiles the newly organized Pirate Party of Oklahoma:
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the Pirate Party of Oklahoma to everybody.
The Pirate Party is a movement that started in Europe as a response to increased monitoring of internet activity by the government, loss of privacy in all aspects of life, a lack of accountability of the Governments, and the concerns of misuse of copyright laws. The Pirates are concerned about wiretaps without warrants, reading and storing emails without court orders, increased video monitoring of our every move, and being treated like potential criminals or terrorist for common activities like flying or photography. We worry about our government entering into secret treaties with other nations with such efforts as ACTA. Our government increasingly cites "national security" as a reason for not being accountable to its citizens. We look forward to being a part of Oklahoma politics and being able to provide content here that affects all Oklahomans. We also want to invite everyone to check us out on our website.

CA: Constitution party Endorses American Independents

At Constitution Party News, Joe Murphy announces that the Constitution Party will endorse the slate of candidates running under the American Independent banner in California:
We endorse the following candidates who are running under the "American Independent" banner in California for 2010!
Follow the link for the full list.

Feb 13, 2010

NV: Third Party Tea Party Candidate May Challenge Reid for Senate

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Sun columnist Jon Ralston is reporting that the Tea Party has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will have a candidate in the Senate race to battle for the seat held by Majority Leader Harry Reid. The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report. Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party's U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy. There are six other third-party candidates going through the verification process to appear on the ballot as U.S. Senate candidates — one Reform Party hopeful and five as independents, Ralston reported.