A Rough Guide to the Third Party and Independent Blogosphere

Is there such a thing as the third party and independent blogosphere? A web search for "third party blogosphere" returns less than ten results. Certainly there are innumerable blogs devoted to third party and independent politics across the political spectrum, but taken together they lack the cohesion characteristic of the networks dedicated to pushing the Democratic and Republican Parties and the two-party system. Of course, this is to be expected as reflective of reality under the conditions of the reigning two-party state. However, the picture becomes more coherent when viewed at the individual party level, at the state and local level, or in terms of third party and independent issue advocacy. Obviously, the following guide is by no means comprehensive, and admittedly provisional. It is a first attempt at offering a window into the third party and independent political web, and is informed by my own reading habits and search histories. For the present, and when possible, I have limited this post to sites that update daily or semi-daily with rich link-lists, and which thus act as portals into the group or issue under consideration. Please note any glaring omissions or suggestions for future installments of the guide in comments.

Where to begin?
Needless to say, political consciousness of third party activism in the United States is quite low. Yet, countless political rants begin by voicing frustration with the two-party system and conclude with a call to form a third party. The depth of this discontent is demonstrated by the breadth of third parties active in the United States. The political parties page at Politics1 lists more than thirty.

Third Party News
Perhaps the most popular third party news site is Independent Political Report, which is "dedicated to covering America’s third parties and independent candidates, and providing a forum for the intelligent discussion thereof." Ballot Access News, edited by Richard Winger, follows stories at local, state and federal levels on various issues affecting third party and independent politics across the country: ballot access issues, petitioning guidelines, pending federal and state level legislation, court cases, registration numbers etc. The Thirds posts regular updates on third party and independent campaigns for office and tracks third party news. The Irregular Times covers independent progressive news.

General Third Party and Independent Group Blogs
The Melting Pot Project, a group blogging and third party networking site, aims to "encourage outside-the-box thinking about American politics in a way that extends beyond the dogmatic red-blue style, and to point out the ideological failings of both of the two dominant parties." Watchblog's Third Party and Independent column is a multi-editor blog focusing on current events from perspectives other than those of the duopolist mainstream.

America's Independent Party

Formed by supporters of Alan Keyes' presidential bid in 2008, the AIP has a simple platform calling for affiliation rather than membership. Keyes' blog, Loyal to Liberty, is worth checking out. The Catholic Knight is a vocal affiliate of the party, and follows issues the issues of the day from a conservative Catholic perspective.

Anarchist
Anarchist News provides "a non-sectarian source for news about and of concern to anarchists" as well as a forum for debate and discussion. InfoShop aggregates news, opinion and resources of interest to anti-state and anti-capitalist activists around the globe. Attack the System is a group blog aimed at synthesizing the anarchist and American revolutionary traditions.

American Conservative Party
The American Conservative Party has chapters in seventeen states. The party's umbrella site has an active blog, and members are also active at Tea Party Patriots. Daily Pundit is a supporter, and has regular commentary on the group.

Constitution Party
So far as I can tell, the Constitution Party does not yet seem to have a well-networked niche in the political blogopshere. Joe Murphy, a party official in Pennsylvania, maintains Constitution Party News, which follows Constitution Party news from around the country. Kevin Thompson maintained the Rock County Constitution Party blog and follows many different issues relating to the group and its detailed platform.

Green Party
There are many bloggers active in the Green Party across the country and around the world. The Green Party website has an extensive link-list of related sites and blogs. Green Party Watch, which calls itself "America's #1 Source for Green Party News & Views!", is a multi-editor blog and web portal for all things Green. At On the Wilder Side, Ian and Kimberly Wilder cover Green Party and progressive issues. A Green State of Mind is a "Green Theoretical Journal."

Independent
Independents – that is, persons who are not affiliated with any political party – span the political spectrum and are likely the largest and least predictable voting bloc in the United States. On the right, Independent Conservative Voters seeks "to encourage Independent and Conservative voters to act effectively in returning this country to Constitutional government and to restore our lost Liberties." On the left, the Independent Progressive Politics Network is a portal site "committed to the achievement of a national, non-sectarian, independent progressive political party, or an alliance of such parties, as an alternative to the corporate-controlled, Democratic/Republican system." Independent Voting is the umbrella site of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. At The Hankster, Nancy Hanks supplies "a daily news feed of, by and for Independents across America." Politics in the Zeros is a anti-war, progressive independent blog that follows clean-tech and economic issues. Ross Levin follows third party and independent news and issues, and advocates progressive political reform.

Libertarian
There are a great many libertarian sites on the web, many more than there are specifically Libertarian Party oriented blogs. Lew Rockwell's site is a well known "anti-state, anti-war, pro-market" news and opinion clearinghouse. Libertarian Blog Place is just that, and has aggregated a long list of Libertarian or libertarian-leaning blogs. Delaware Libertarian is a good place to start to explore the Libertarian blogosphere, while Left Libertarian aggregates anarchist-leaning content from around the web. The Beacon is the blog of the Independent Institute, a libertarian leaning think tank. The Humble Libertarian's list of The Top 100 Libertarian Blogs and Websites is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in exploring the libertarian web. At Political Class Dismissed, which calls itself "the war room of the Tea Party Movement," James Ostrowski follows national and local politics from an independent libertarian perspective, writing, "I do not hesitate to praise leftists when they’re right and I’ll defend conservatives even when they hoist themselves on their own petard."

Modern Whig Party
Though the Modern Whig Party was founded only last year, it already has chapters in over thirty states. The party's umbrella blog is somewhat sparse, but many of the state affiliates maintain blogs with regular updates on local issues and developments. The Whig blog covers current events and is a fine portal to the Modern Whig blogosphere. Whigs in Virginia follows Modern Whig news around the country. The Florida Whig Party is fielding three candidates for Congress in 2010. Their website is consistently updated and contains a Whig internet radio portal. Gene Baldassari, a Whig candidate for the NJ State Assembly, covers Whig and general third party issues on his website and blog. The New York Whig Party blog has become quite active around election time '09.

US Pirate Party
The United States Pirate Party blog functions as a clearing house for information of relevance to Pirate Party activists.

Socialist
Consistent with the fractious history of socialist politics, there are no less than ten active socialist parties in the United States. The Socialist Webzine is "the electronic version of The Socialist magazine," following news and issues of interest to socialists around the globe. Lenin's Tomb is a pillar of the hard-left blogosphere, with links to sites throughout the left-wing web. California's Peace and Freedom Party is currently in the process of building a national organization and has an active Blog for Peace and Freedom. The Socialist Party of NYC blog covers issues both local and national in scope. At The Marxist-Leninist, Comrade Zero collects resources and news while providing analysis and commentary aimed at radical activists and organizers in the US. The Socialist Worker provides news and commentary from a Marxist perspective and follows the "working class struggle" across the globe.

Working Families Party
The Working Families Party has chapters in New York, Connecticut, South Carolina and Oregon. The New York and Connecticut branches currently maintain blogs hosted on their respective sites.

State-Level and Local Blogs
There are numerous third party and independent groups active only in certain states, and there are innumerable blogs devoted to state level and local politics which also focus on third party and independent news. The Maine View is keeping a close watch on races shaping up for the 2010 elections in the state. Independence Minnesota is the official group blog of the Minnesota Independence Party. The Oregon Independent is maintained by Sal Peralta, the Secretary of the Independent Party of Oregon. The Prog Blog covers issues of relevance to the Vermont Progressive Party. The Utah League of Independent Voters offers "many resources to help connect to other independents who are tired of the partisan dead weight dragging our country down."

Third Party and Independent Issue Advocacy
There are a number of issues that galvanize third party and independent political activists across the political spectrum. Among these are ballot access reform, electoral reform, and anti-incumbency efforts. Ballot Access News is the best source of which I am aware for news on that front. Fair Vote advocates "a constitutionally protected right to vote, universal voter registration, a national popular vote for president, instant runoff voting and proportional representation." Open Debates is a "nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to reforming the presidential debate process . . . [and] has launched simultaneous campaigns to inform the public, the news media and policy makers about the antidemocratic conduct of the Commission on Presidential Debates." VOID is an anti-incumbency group that seeks to organize "voters dissatisfied with our politics and government results, to vote out incumbents in sufficient numbers to change how politicians conduct themselves and our government." Vote Anti-Incumbent covers independent candidates for office and independent voting issues. At Vote Out Incumbents, Thomas Daly advocates for independent and progressive alternatives to the false choices offered up by the Democratic-Republican Party. At Least of All Evils, Dale Sheldon makes a persuasive case for range voting, and voting system reform.

Anti-Duopoly Blogs
There are also many blogs devoted to systematic critique of the two-party system and the ideology that sustains it – you are reading one right now. The Think 3 Institute offers "political and cultural commentary from the perspective of radical common sense. Opposition to the AMERICAN BIPOLARCHY and ideological fanaticism in all forms." The World Loves its Own offers political, social and religious commentary from a Catholic perspective and a position of "alienation from the two-party system." The Jacksonian Party is dedicated to developing the "idea of a Jacksonian Party and what it means to run the Nation under the Jacksonian precepts." Folk Politics, An Ordinary Person is a consistent critic of the two-party sham from an independent progressive perspective. Opinione stands in opposition to the reigning two-party state and follows American politics and international relations from Italy.

Conclusion
Hopefully this post has opened a few windows onto the third party and independent political web and the third party blogosphere. This is an evolving page, which I intend to update regularly and fill out in greater detail. In the comments section, please note any glaring omissions, thematic suggestions, or nominations of individual sites and blogs (perhaps you maintain one yourself!) for inclusion in future installments of the guide, or send me an email.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

You failed to note the webiste and blog of the Independent Party of Oregon, at www.indparty.com

d.eris said...

ha, oh yeah, and I just mentioned them in a post on Oregon's new fusion law the other day. Thanks anon.

broken ladder said...

Be wary of FairVote. FairVote leader Rob Richie, as well as most other notable spokespeople working for or affiliated with FairVote, have a reputation for being extremely incompetent as well as being incorrigibly dishonest. Here's a breakdown by Princeton math Ph.D. and voting methods expert Warren D. Smith.

http://scorevoting.net/Irvtalk.html

http://scorevoting.net/Burlington.html

derek said...

The Irregular Times is a pretty decent source of independent progressive news. Check it out

d.eris said...

Ladder, yes, I've seen some good criticism of Fair Vote from the range voting front, via Least of All Evils.

Derek, thanks for the tip, I wasn't familiar with Irregular Times.

Septimus said...

Thanks for this post, a good reference.

Nancy Hanks said...

Great round-up! Thanks for the mention -- cross posted at The Hankster

Michael B. said...

thank you...will bookmark many of these

keivnjthompson said...

Actually, you mention me as the State Party Secretary in Massachusetts. I am now living in Wisconsin and part of the party there. I do not have any official title other than member.
I have begun a blog for the Constitution Party here in Rock County, Wisconsin - http://rockcountycp.wordpress.com. I started it about two weeks ago.

d.eris said...

Thanks for the update and correction Kevin, I'll put it in the next revision. The new site looks good.

America's Third Party said...

America's Third Party has a nightly video chat at blog TV. David Jon Sponheim is running for President under America's Third Party for 2012. We welcome all Third Party members and Independents to the discussion. Thank you for this blog posting. I will be sure to bookmark many of these sites, and hope to be a regular commenter. Also, feel free to join our community and post any information there.

Contrario said...

What a great resource, thank you for posting these links.

fees said...

the Independent Party of Oregon???

Anonymous said...

Independent parties are too fragmented to make an impact. These small factions need a "meta" party structure to unify everyone under one umbrella.

Pete Healey said...

@Anonymous,
Third parties don't need a "unifying structure" so much as they need to advance a principle like PR, which would break the duopoly and bring them all to the political stage on roughly equal footing.
I see no other way for third parties to work together or to win any gains for themselves except for fighting for proportional politics.

broken ladder said...

Pete Healey,

You don't get PR to break up duopoly. You have to break up duopoly in order to get PR. And doing that requires switching to Score Voting or Approval Voting for single-winner elections.
http://asitoughttobe.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/score-voting/

DLW said...

Pete and Clay,
To break or to shake the duopoly is the question.
The former is damn hard, as indicated by the quality research by Dale Sheldon Hess.
The latter requires the use of 3-5 seat forms of Proportional Representation for "more local" elections, as our preeminent electoral reform institution FairVote is now advocating for.

Perhaps, the best way to get PR, or "whatever", is with PR?

For we don't need an even playing field among all parties to make our democracy work a lot better. When we used 3 seat state reps elections in IL, it handicapped the rivalry between the two major parties enuf in that really economically important state to make it possible for other states, like MN or WI, to be more innovative in their politics.

But perhaps what is needed most to make electoral reform arise as an issue is for a detente among different advocates for different sorts of electoral reform.

dlw

DLW said...

make that, "the latter only requires the use of 3-5 seat forms of PR for "more local" elections.

Clay, when are you going to accept that most folks simply don't buy that BR analysis of election rules settles the matter? FairVote has a marketing and first-mover advantage in its advocacy for IRV. And as I learned from "Majority Judgment", IRV, or rank-choice based election rules, are more comparable with Approval/Score voting if voter preferences are uni-modal or could be characterized as not unlike the distance folks need to walk to lemonade stands along a beach. According to analysis summarized in "majority judgement", this is not 100% true, but it's statistically true for the serious candidates.

And so it seems plausible to me that IRV is worth supporting, at the very least strategically for some. Non-monotonicity may be possible with IRV, but it's not likely, especially when there are only 3 candidates, and thereby it should not be seen as a deal killer...

 
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