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ThirdPartyTalk: Setting the Board

jumpjet's picture
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I don't know if anyone pays attention to the generic ballot for Congress, but things are looking up lately for Republicans. The aggregate on Pollster.com shows a generic Republican polling only two points behind a generic Democrat; at several polling outfits, notably Rasmussen Reports, Republicans are ahead substantially in the generic ballot. Coupled with the losses Democrats suffered in the New Jersey and Virginia governors' races this month, you could argue that 2010 is shaping up to be a bad year for the Democratic Party.

Does it matter, though? Nearly a year of complete Democratic dominance in Washington has produced the same revolting bullshit we had under the Republicans. No, that's not quite true; in many ways the Democrats have been worse, because where the Republicans merely ignored the numerous problems facing the citizenry, the Democrats have engaged them and actively worked to worsen them. They've only just begun, too: go read about Obama's education policies. Go on. Try not to vomit. Things are awful under the Democrats and they'll be awful under the Republicans. If 2010 is a rejection of the Democratic Party, all we'll do is trade the Democrats' soft corporatism for the Republicans' hard corporatism.

But much like James Tiberius Kirk, I don't believe in no-win scenarios.

A third party: we've thrown the idea around nonchalantly. But let's concentrate and intensify the discussion. Let's talk about a third party as if we were actually going to follow through.

I've seen three distinct ideas for a third party brought up here:

National Health Care Party
A single-issue party devoted to passing single-payer health care into law. Not complicated.

Liberal Party
A broader party which would have unabashedly leftist positions on a range of issues.

National Women's Party
A feminist party intended to empower women and enshrine women's rights.

Or we could do something different; perhaps we could have a Populist Party, for example.

There wouldn't necessarily need to be a new third party founded either. There are already several third parties established throughout the country, like the Working Families Party in New York and the Progressive Party in Vermont. It might be enough to ally with one of these parties and make a major effort to grow them and strengthen them in 2010.

If there's to be any significant movement on a third party for 2010, though, it has to happen soon. We have less than 11 1/2 months until election day, and so many things need to be set in motion. Ideally things should have been started months ago, but we can certainly make up for lost time.

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S Brennan's picture
Submitted by S Brennan on

"Some other third party, with a different focus, could also be created; perhaps we could have a Populist Party, for example."

A party for every Identity.

But I agree with your point:

Identify Policies and identify/recruit individuals who support them and have a record of following through with actions in spite of opposition. How about an umbrella label or "brand"?

DO NOT ALLOW SELF APPOINTMENT -> identify & recruit

Oh, if I could add...make sure that the folks have a certain amount of visual appeal, because whether you like it or not, you need superficial peoples votes to win.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I didn't mean that we should form more than one third party, I meant that we could form a third party other than the three that had been previously discussed, using a 'populist party' as an example.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

2010 is too soon for a national third party, but it is not too soon to idenify local third party candidates with promise. There has got to be another Bernie Sanders out there. Remember, Sanders did not start out at the federal level, but for Burlington City Council. So............ look at your local races and see if you see anyone credible. If you find anyone, come and post about them at Corrente.

Let's see what emerges as 2010 progresses, and then, after the election, see if there is any way to create some grand coaltion of lefty independent elected officials.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

Even if there's no major third party effort for 2010, I'd at least like to start getting organized for one now.

Before that, what needs to happen is for all the B-C-D-list blogs to unite their efforts around a single focus. I think Lambert was working on something like that, but I don't recall the details.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

a voting bloc over a third party. The right-wingers have been very successful in taking over the Republican Party. The Party has no success without their rubber stamp.

I also like the idea of thinking locally and supporting real liberal candidates that are not affiliated with a party structure. The problem is that when you have "progressives" who claim they are going to stand up to the PTB in the Democratic Party, there is only so far they can go without losing their funding for re-election.

Genuine grass-roots candidates are hard to find, but I agree the efforts should be made.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Just askin'.

But I agree with DCBlogger. Local is the best way to go. If more liberal candidates beat Dems, then Dems will have to take notice and *may* shift to the left. If not, who cares, we got one of their seats.

Submitted by hipparchia on

If not, who cares, we got one of their seats.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

City politics is generally different than federal (in my experience at least). Its much more accountable, which often means you can find people interested in the issues on a micro scale. Also, you can get more diversity in the political spectrum. Many wonderful potential candidates are sitting in city council chambers, boards of supervisors, school boards, etc. But not all of them (particularly the ones who *should*) will run. Instead we get a lot of arrogant people who want fame and/or power. I know, some of them were friends.

We need to expand the playing field. If you can't find anyone good, throw in your hat ;).

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

if we snag a few seats from the Dems and GOPers, then they will be forced to take notice. That can swing them to our side on the issues, without us having to deal with their BS post-partisan (read: pro-Wall Street, anti-middle class).

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

But I'm too young, I think, only almost 23. Moreover, I'd have to build up some credit in my city- maybe spend some time working on an issue of import, like our abnormally high poverty rate.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

A lot of good shit happens at the city/county level, too. But you can also help a local candidate who doesn't have money. Seriously, campaigning isn't rocket science.

(I'm thinking I'll try to write up a post about using the net to find effective ways to campaign on the cheap.)

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

Because I honestly am not sure how to get started. I'm signed up to help Hank Gilbert become governor of Texas, but that's still more of a following position; not really prospective leadership.

Ha, I could run for school board. I don't think there's an age limit on that.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Money, being a form of power.

Promise me one thing: you'll surround yourself with people who will keep you "real". The political world can be powerfully seductive. I've seen people I know slowly walk toward "conventional wisdom" as they play the game and its heartbreaking. I couldn't run because I doubt I have the strength. Also, I like to swear like a fuckin' sailor.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

And I also promise that I probably swear as much as you do, and I further promise not to give it up. I will not be sanitized for the ears of the Respectable Folk.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

Start with local races: school board, town council, county board, water district. Then move up to the state legislature. That is how a political party builds its base of power and influence. And, at least where I live, local races are non-partisan. When you get to the legislature parties matter, but not for local races. You can get experience and build name recognition without being encumbered by Repub/Dem party politics.

There are some local offices that often have only one candidate running. Those are great places to start. They are usually not full-time positions, but you will learn a whole lot about campaigning and dealing with the voting public.

john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

I know it's tacky to send on links to one's own articles in comments-but I thought some here might appreciate reading about some of my experiences as a Green Party alderman in New Haven.

You can find it here.

I would still be doing it if I were 20 years younger-so my advice is to start now and keep moving up.

There's no good reason why there could be 150 Bernie Sanders in congress now.

Submitted by hipparchia on

both for running for office, and for writing about it.

Submitted by lambert on

And especially interesting on the sclerotic nature of the Dem organization. I think that's true where I am.

Michael Wilk's picture
Submitted by Michael Wilk on

http://www.progressiveparty.org

This organization already exists in two states — Vermont and Washington, has been around since 1912, has gotten results at the local and state levels, and they have at least one U.S. senator (Bernie Sanders) having their back. So let's spread the Progressive Party back to every state in the Union.