The Year's Best Political Ads for Third Party and Independent Candidates

What are the year's best political ads for third party and independent candidates (so far)?  Over the last week, I've viewed dozens of political ads and short videos produced by and for Libertarian, Green, Constitution Party and Independent candidates for office from Maine to California and Florida to Washington.  Thanks to everyone who commented here and at IPR, and those who wrote in with suggestions and nominations!  From this unscientific sampling of videos, it is safe to conclude that there are some very savvy and extremely creative ads out there, and probably many many more which I still have not seen. 

As we all know, the generic political ad, as pioneered by Democrats and Republicans, is a fairly boring affair, and usually consists of the candidate him- or herself speaking directly to the camera, in front of a non-descript background, and making a quick pitch for his or her candidacy.  Since these sorts of ads are now also very inexpensive to produce and disseminate, they can be found on virtually every third party and independent candidate's Youtube channel.

Because of the prejudices and biases against third party and independent candidates, not to mention the ideological and structural constraints imposed on the American people by the two-party state, third party and independent candidates must be extremely creative in their ads to raise their political profiles and garner notice from the public and attention from the media.  It is those ads which diverge from the generic model that I have highlighted below. 

Best Ad: Glenn Wilson vs. The Dons
• Glenn Wilson is an Independent candidate for Congress in Michigan's 1st district.  In this ad, Republican and Democratic mafia bosses hold a meeting to determine what to do about Independent candidate Glenn Wilson, whose candidacy threatens their political monopoly.  They decide not to "whack the voters" just yet, but instead call for a media blackout of coverage on the Independent candidate.

Best series of ads:  Travis Irvine
• Travis Irvine is a Libertarian candidate for Congress in Ohio's 12th district.  His campaign has been releasing entertaining and provocative videos on a weekly basis for the last two months.  Most recently, Irvine has lambasted the GOP with a scathing parody of the party's "Pledge to America," entitled "Apology to America," and he has blasted his Democratic rival Paula Brooks as a carpet bagger in a video entitled "Paula Brokes' Carpet Bagging Outlet."  In the video below, Irvine take aim at the Democratic-Republican warfare/welfare state with the help of television personality Matthew Lesko.

Best Unofficial Ad for a Candidate:  p4prez for Rich Whitney
• With a former Republican governor in prison, and a former Democratic governor following closely in his footsteps, an unofficial web-ad for Green Party gubernatorial candidate in Illinois, Rich Whitney, asks "What will change?" if the state's voters continue to support Republicans and Democrats. 

Most Creative 30 second promo:  Jake Towne
• Jake Towne is an independent libertarian candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 15th district.  The following thirty second promotional video is the only such ad I've seen from a third party or independent candidate that is completely animated:

Most Creative Use of Cultural and Political Cliches: Lincoln Chafee
• An ad for Lincoln Chafee, independent candidate for governor of Rhode Island, takes a look at his Republican rival Frank Caprio.  Entitled "Caprio's Shoes," the ad begins by stating, "They say you only know a man once you've walked a mile in his shoes."  It turns out that Caprio wears flip flops. 

Simplest Ad Ever:  Dennis Lambert
• Dennis Lambert is the Green Party candidate for state representative in Ohio's 89th district.  A video on his Youtube channel entitled "Green Vote" speaks for itself.

Most Aggressive Challenge to a Major Party Rival:  Alex Snitker
• In this short video, Libertarian candidate for US Senate in Florida, Alex Snitker, calls out Republican Marco Rubio, asking: "Why is Marco Rubio afraid of Alex Snitker?"

Best Gotcha Ad: Tim Cahill
• In this extremely short ad, independent candidate for governor of Massachusetts, Tim Cahill, catches his Republican rival Charlie Baker stating that he "worked on the big dig" boondoggle, and that he "never worked on the big dig" boondoggle, leaving the viewer wondering if we can trust Baker at all.

Most Dramatic Ad: John Jay Myers
• In this dramatic 44 second ad, Libertarian candidate for Congress in Texas's 32nd district, John Jay Myers lays out the stark choice facing the people of the United States.

Darkest Message in a Generic Ad: Gail Giaramita
Gail Giaramita is the Constitution Party candidate in Mississippi's 1st district.  In this campaign video, Giaramita argues that "America is a body with cancer" and states that "the ballot box will not save us." 

Most shameless self-promotion in a video roundup: Poli-Tea
• If you recall, a few months ago Poli-Tea released its first web-ad urging viewers to declare their political independence from the Democratic and Republican parties, and end the cycle of lesser evilism.  To my knowledge, it is one of the few ads on the web advocating independent and third party politics as such.

Special Mention
Hugh Giordano, Green Party candidate for State Rep in Pennsylvania's 194th district.
Jeremiah Heaton, Independent candidate for Congress in Virginia's 9th district.   
Shane Bruce, Libertarian Party candidate for Commissioner of Insurance in Georgia.  
Tom Horner, Independence Party candidate for governor of Minnesota. 

That concludes my first, but hopefully not last, roundup of the year's best ads.  Disagree with the results?  Notice any glaring omissions?  Have a suggestion for a possible future roundup?  Send me an email or drop a message and link in the comments.

As a final note, it is worth mentioning that, from what I've seen, it appears that Libertarians and Independents are most aggressively engaging in campaign outreach via short, entertaining and provocative videos on Youtube and the like.  Or is there a trove of Green, Constitution Party etc. videos that I have yet to find?

Dear Democratic Voters, Follow Obama and Biden's Advice: Consider the Alternatives . . . Green, Socialist, Libertarian, Independent etc.

Clearly concerned about the so-called "enthusiasm gap" between likely Republican and likely Democratic voters, the White House has effectively begun a new campaign to shore up support for Democratic candidates among the party's most vocal activists, and, by extension, its base.  The explicit message of this campaign is highly counter-intuitive, at least at first glance.  Its slogan: "Consider the Alternatives!"  The message is difficult to ignore: in the White House echo chamber, the Vice President echoes the President echoing the Vice President.  As ABC News reports:
At a fundraiser in Manchester, NH, today, Vice President Biden urged Democrats to "remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This President has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises."

The remarks, made to roughly 200 top Democratic activists and donors, recall comments President Obama made last week to “griping and groaning Democrats…Folks: wake up. This is not some academic exercise. As Joe Biden put it, Don’t compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative.”  [Emphases added.] 
Take a moment to consider the implications of the fact that the most prominent officials of the majority party are literally imploring Americans to "Consider the Alternatives." Of course, in the Orwellian language that is appropriate to the bizarro world of Democratic-Republican party politics and government, the statement "Consider the Alternatives" means exactly the opposite of what it says.  The implied message is immediately apparent: there are no alternatives, or rather, there is only one presumed alternative, voting Republican, but the presupposition is that this is simply not an option and therefore not an alternative.  But how does a partisan of the corporate parties understand the message?  At The Reaction, Michael Stickings writes in a letter to the Vice President:
What's with telling the Democratic base, your base, to "stop whining"?  Sure, I get your point -- as inartful as it was.

If you put Democrats up against Republicans, and if Democrats are compared to "the alternative," the choice should be clear, and Democrats, suffering from a lack of enthusiasm, should step up and do what needs to be done to prevent the Republicans from winning big this November.

In a two-party system, you've only got two choices, and often that choice is simply the least bad of the two. Is that what you meant? If so, and it would seem so, that's hardly a ringing endorsement of Democrats, hardly an encouraging message to be sending.  [Emphases added.]
Given the subtitle to The Reaction blog, namely, "liberalism unbound," it is highly ironic how succinctly this passage demonstrates the liberal Democrat's mental imprisonment by the ideology of the two-party state.  The reactionary ideologue of the two-party state thinks he has a choice when in fact there are no alternatives.  Indeed, partisans of the two-party state are so enthralled by the ideology that maintains it, they see two choices where in fact there are no alternatives.  

The good news is that there are numerous alternatives to the false choice between the Democratic and Republican parties that has been forced upon us by the ruling corporate-political class.  From a principled liberal or progressive perspective, independents, the Green party, the Socialist parties, even the Libertarian party, represent a superior alternative to the reproduction of the reigning two-party state.  If you call yourself a liberal or a progressive, but you support Democrats, in what sense are you a liberal or progressive?  By your actions you do nothing but provide popular political cover for a primary faction of the global warfare and corporate welfare state.

Stepping Into the Breach: Speaking Up for Political Independence

The disparity between the high number of self-described independents among the American public and the dearth of independent voices in government and media is among the most glaring political contradictions in the United States today.  Of course, there is no lack of professional Democrats and Republicans who describe themselves as "independent."  And the same can be said of their lackeys in the mainstream media.  But, truth be told, if you have not liberated yourself from the ideology that maintains and sustains the reigning two-party state and duopoly system of government, if you still support the Republican and Democratic parties in their ongoing consolidation of political and economic power to the benefit of the ruling corporate-political class, you are not an independent.  You are an enabler of the corporate-political class in their ongoing war of attrition against the people of the United States and against the very existence of constitutional, representative government in this country. 

The lack of truly independent voices in our public discourse is too obvious to ignore.  And the longer the situation continues, the more likely we are to see individuals stand up and step into the breach.  Consider John Chaffee, for instance.  Chaffee is an independent singer-songwriter who has just launched a new website entitled Independent Lion.    In its description of "Who We Are," the site addresses political Independents while calling out the machine politics of the Republican and Democratic parties:
There's a growing segment of the population dissatisfied with the way things are going in Washington, our state capitals, and our city governments. It appears that neither party, Republican or Democrat, has the wherewithal to solve our problems, let alone the nerve to even address the more important ones. The elephant and the donkey just face off and butt heads...contentious, incapable, all their energies spent on a never-ending struggle with each other. 

Emerging from the plains and towns across our country is a new symbol, the mighty King of the Beasts, to speak for those who have no voice. We encourage Independent Lions to roam through a land of no red states, no blue states, but a United States, where respect for the Constitution, and each other, rules. And where good old fashioned common sense, which would dictate limited government, living within our means, and playing by the rules, ROARS.
In a press release announcing the new website, Chaffee describes the thought behind the effort:
“When it hit me that the number of independents is just about equal to those affiliated with either major party,” Chaffee says, “I realized this growing segment of Americans should have a powerful symbol to represent their point of view. Besides being individually strong, lions are social animals that run with and protect their prides. The lion seemed like the perfect symbol for freethinking defenders of our freedom and constitutional principles.” . . . 
“As a singer-songwriter who is also a concerned citizen, I simply want to give voice to those of us who are caught in the middle, feeling that our leaders and representatives continually fail to represent our interests,” says Chaffee.
Chaffee's signature tune appears to be "Play By the Rules," which became something of a Youtube hit over the last year or so, no doubt for its denunciation of the corruption, deceit and moral decrepitude that is definitive of the Democrat-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government.

There Should be a Revolution Every Two Years: Are You the Dog who Returns to Its Vomit?

According to one common interpretation of Thomas Jefferson's maxim that there should be a revolution every twenty years, Jefferson was not in fact stating the necessity of a violent and bloody uprising once a generation, but rather underscoring the revolutionary aspect of representative, democratic government.  If the scoundrels can simply be voted out of office, there is no need to hunt them down and string them up from the trees in front of their office.

But under the conditions of the two-party state and duopoly system of government, voting the scoundrels out of office is a virtual impossibility, as the scoundrels are firmly in control of both the Democratic and Republican parties.  The two-party system has effectively reached a stage at which neither of the ruling parties offers a viable vehicle for the representation of the people's interests.  The more quickly the Democratic and Republican parties exchange majority and minority status, from one election to the next, the more certain we can be that voters recognize the major parties are simply incapable of representing our interests.   Bob Morris writes at CAIVN:
The upcoming midterms are shaping up to be a train wreck for Democrats too. Something similar happened to Republicans in 2008. Scanning blog posts from conservatives just after that election is instructive. Some were wondering if the Republican Party could survive such a defeat. Yet, just two years later, the Republican Party is seemingly resurgent. I say "seemingly" because huge shifts in voter sentiment like this in such a short period show that voters are increasingly unhappy with both parties, and searching for answers. Clearly, this could be an opening for the development of third parties with real clout. It's happened before.
And it can happen again.  In an article for Op-Ed News, Curt Day calls for a third party and independent revolution this November:
That is right, we can start to overthrow our government this November! How? We can dethrone it by voting out both the Republican and Democratic parties! Though we cannot vote out either part this election, it can be a start. Why vote out both parties? Considering our past, whenever we vote for either of the two main political parties, we act as what was described in Proverbs 26:11: "Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly."

Think about it. Either the Republicans or Democrats create a mess. The voters respond by voting in the other party. Then that party either maintains the mess or makes it worse. So the party that created the mess tells us that they have the solutions to our problems. And so we, like sheep, follow their voice and vote them in again. And this cycle continues on and on. Thus, the American voter becomes the fool who refuses to change and thus repeats his lunacy.

If you vote Republican or Democratic, you are the dog who returns to its vomit for yet another helping.

Nominations: What are the Year's Best Political Ads or Short Videos for Independent and Third Party Candidates?

For next week, I'm preparing a post that will highlight the year's best political ads or videos for third party and independent candidates for any office.  I've already watched a few dozen videos in my first round of research – and there are some really good ones out there –, but there are likely many more that I'm not aware of or haven't been able to track down.  So if you know any noteworthy ads or short videos for any third party or independent candidate this year, drop a link in the comments or send an email.

A Closer Look at the Independent Plurality: the Coming Independent Majority?

The new Pew Research poll on political Independents and the Midterm vote has been widely circulated in the political blogosphere, yet analysis of the survey has been rather superficial, to say the least, with most commentators focusing on the apparent Republican advantage among Independent voters.  Others have added that the Independent vote will prove decisive in this year's election.  But how could it be otherwise?  Independents outnumber Democrats and Republicans.  Compared to Pew's past surveys, a record number of Americans identify themselves as Independents (37%), who now outnumber Democrats (34%) and Republicans (29%):

The survey also inquired into the previous partisan affiliation(s) of individuals who call themselves Independents.  Most independents say that they did not identify as Democrats or Republicans over the last five years (46%), but a roughly equivalent number are either former Democrats or Republicans (22% and 23%, respectively). Asked why they identify as Independents, the majority state that they do not trust either major party; they believe the Democratic and Republican parties pander to special interests rather than represent the interests of average Americans; and they agree with Republicans on some issues and with Democrats on others.  This squares with the group's ideological composition: self-described moderates outnumber conservatives and liberals among Independents, 43% to 36% and 16%, respectively.  

Finally, demonstrating the pollster's inability to think about Independents independently of the frame provided by the Democratic-Republican duopoly form, the poll breaks down Independents into five different subgroups, based on their ideological and demographic profiles: Shadow Democrats, Shadow Republicans, Doubting Democrats, the Disaffected and the Disengaged.

Nothing to Fight Over but Personalities and Trivialities

The two-party state and duopoly system of government is today virtually antithetical to constitutional government: Democratic-Republican party government represents a crisis of democracy and representative republican government.  In an opinion piece at the Maryland Gazette, Blair Lee provides a rundown of the situation following the primaries in the Old Line State:

In Afghanistan, voters dodged Taliban rockets and death threats, waited hours at polling places and dealt with widespread fraud. Yet, voter turnout was 40 percent. Maryland's Election Day was peaceful, sunny and went off without a hitch, yet voter turnout was only 24 percent, the lowest on record. . . .

I believe, voters stayed away in droves because there wasn't much to vote for. Thanks to gerrymandering, closed primaries, one-party government and the power of incumbency, a vast number of candidates, including the comptroller and the attorney general, ran unopposed.

In the races for the General Assembly, 120 candidates ran unopposed, including a majority of the incumbent state senators. And 78 percent of the incumbent local County Council members and county commissioners were safely re-elected.  Where spirited primaries offered voters real choices, turnout went up. For instance, Baltimore's brutal state's attorney's race boosted the city's turnout from 15.1 percent in 2006 to 21.5 percent this year.

But in most counties the closed primary system eliminated real ideological choices, resulting in like-minded Democrats running against like-minded Democrats and like-minded Republicans running against like-minded Republicans. In these closed affairs, devoid of issues, the candidates had nothing to fight over but personalities and trivialities.

Michigan Independent Takes on Democratic-Republican Political Mafia in New Ad

Via Interlochen Public Radio comes word of a great new ad from Glenn Wilson, an Independent candidate for Congress in Michigan CD-1.  In the ad, two party bosses and mafia dons, namely, Don Rino and Don Dino, get together to talk about a threat to their "families" from "this independent guy" who "won't take our money," and who has the support of "the little people, the voters."  The dons discuss a number of potential solutions to the problem, including "whacking the voters." They ultimately decide upon a media blackout strategy.  But the ad, entitled Glenn Wilson vs. The Dons, speaks for itself.  Great stuff:

Land of the Free

An infographic from Attack the System depicts the explosion of the US prison population over the last 30 years of Democratic-Republican party government. As AtS notes, the number of incarcerated Americans has quintupled since 1980.

File:US incarceration timeline-clean.svg

Critical Mass: Breaking the Two-Party Paradigm

In the Huffington Post, Lee Stranahan argues that we are reaching what he calls a "third party tipping point," and suggests that a mass third party movement will have to explode the old duopolist paradigm, and re-frame the defining political issues of the day. An excerpt:

Once you begin to expose that two-party, Democratic versus Republican paradigm for the manufactured fraud that it is, a political opportunity starts to emerge. Drop the theatrics of left versus right and you see that both parties are united in their corruption by special-interest groups. Suddenly, a real alternative founding principle becomes clear; one that could effectively rally the support of a significant number of Americans.

Our country needs a third political party based on the explicit rejection of lobbyist money as its fundamental, unwavering principle. This party sales pitch would be clear and compelling; "Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, we aren't corrupt."

Because this party will break the chains of left versus right, its policies would be unlikely to fit neatly into the current paradigm. The traditional questions of big government versus small government would be replaced by an emphasis on effective government.

People have lost faith in our current political system and with good reason. I believe we're close to a tipping point, where tge incredible advances in communications technology combine with a strong anticorruption philosophy to help build a political party that breathes life into American democracy before it's too late.

PA: Duopolist Double Standard, Democratic-Republican Hypocrisy Fuels Outrage

A letter to the editor of the Centre Daily Times:
I am outraged about the Sept. 9 Associated Press article “Nominating papers rules under review.”

Why should independent and third-party nominees have to follow rules that aren’t applicable to Democrats and Republicans? Bravo to the federal judge who ruled against the requirement that only residents can circulate petitions for candidates in their legislative districts in Pennsylvania.
As it is, the two-party system already plays dirty tricks to prevent other candidates from running for office. For example, other voices for change must gather an enormous number of signatures (about 20,000 versus 2,000 for major-party candidates), and usually need to double that number because the other two parties will use every legal trick to invalidate the signatures.

Mel Packer, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, withdrew from the race last month, shortly after filing petitions with more than 20,000 signatures, because he didn’t have enough surplus signatures to survive a Democratic challenge.

In Arizona, Republicans are funding 11 “sham candidates” they recruited on the Green Party ticket, even though officials in the state Green Party have condemned this cynical ploy. This effort is designed to confuse the electorate and siphon votes from Democrats.

A couple of years ago, Republicans made relatively large contributions to a legitimate Green candidate running for statewide office in Pennsylvania.

In America, we are supposed to have the right to free speech and free association. It should sadden everyone that the two major parties seem to disagree in order to tighten their hold on the reins of power.

Douglas M. Mason
State College

Update: Third Party and Independent Candidates 2010

Over the weekend, I completed my final update to Poli-Tea's list of third party and independent candidates, 2010. The page now lists over 600 third party and independent candidates for governor, US House and Senate, from all 50 states, and links to over 500 campaign websites. And the list isn't even complete, though it is fairly comprehensive. Check it out.

MA: Surge of Independent Candidates Enter Final Campaign Stretch

In the Patriot Ledger, Nancy Reardon profiles the surge of Independent candidates for elected office at all levels of government in Massachusetts. Last year, of course, it became well known nationwide that registered Independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in the Bay State. Now the question is whether they will put their votes where their mouths are when given the choice to support Independent candidates or to continue to cast their ballots in support of Democratic-Republican misrule. Reardon reports:

Statewide, 65 non-party candidates will be on the November ballot, positioning themselves as the voter’s alternative to the two-party system that most all of them depict as government’s number-one problem. They’re running for nearly every office from county commissioner and state representative to U.S. congressman and governor. . . .

“This could be the year we actually elect three or four or five candidates,” said John Valianti, a self-described independent activist who earlier this year won state approval to have “Independent” be a political designation, an official title shy of party. The Marshfield resident lost a 2008 state representative race, to Democrat James Cantwell.

Valianti and a group of 10 South Shore-based volunteers are helping unenrolled candidates campaign and get their names out. He’s predicting wins this year, and more to come.

“At the grassroots level, this independent thing could really be happening,” he said.

But those not affiliated with a major party face an uphill battle. Their opponents have an organized political apparatus behind them, which means a widely-established network of volunteers, a percentage of reliable votes and – perhaps most glaringly – fundraising power.

Read the whole thing.

Yet Another Poll: Almost 60% Say Third Party is Needed, Only 35% Say Democrats and Republicans are Adequate

On the heels of the NYT/CBS poll I highlighted yesterday, which showed over 50% support for a third party alternative to the Republicans and Democrats, a new Gallup poll confirms the sentiment. From Gallup:
Americans' desires for a third political party are as high as they have been in seven years. Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic Parties do a poor job of representing the American people. That is a significant increase from 2008 and ties the high Gallup has recorded for this measure since 2003. . . .

The desire for a third party is fairly similar across ideological groups, with 61% of liberals, 60% of moderates, and 54% of conservatives believing a third major party is needed. . . .

Independents, as might be expected given their lack of primary allegiance to either of the two major parties, express a greater degree of support (74%) for a third party than do Republicans (47%) and Democrats (45%). Over time, independents have consistently been the political group most eager to see a third party formed.

Poll: Majority Support for Third Party Alternatives, Number of Duopolist Dead-Enders Continues to Dwindle

A majority of Americans think the country needs real, viable alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties, according to a new NYT/CBS poll. Only 42% of respondents expressed support for the current two-party state and duopoly system of government. How much longer will the partisan dead-enders of the duopoly parties be able to maintain the fiction that their parties and candidates are are supported by and reasonably represent the people of the United States, without getting laughed out of the room? From the most recent NYT/CBS News poll:
Amid disapproval of the major political parties, the percentage of Americans who think the country needs a third party to compete with the Republicans and Democrats has risen 8 points from this past spring. 54% say the country needs a third party, similar to the levels seen in the mid-nineties. Tea Partiers are just as likely as all Americans to think the nation needs a third party – 56% of them think that.

Does the country need a third political party?
Yes 54%
No 42%

The Million Moderate March

From the New York Times media blog:

Jon Stewart announced his much-awaited “big announcement” on Thursday’s edition of his late-night program, “The Daily Show.” He plans to stage a rally in Washington to counter what he identified as extremists on either side of the political spectrum.

Mr. Stewart told his audience the show had secured the National Mall on Oct. 30 for what he called “The Rally to Restore Sanity.”

He later labeled it a “Million Moderate March.” The purpose, he said, is to counter what he called a minority of 15 percent or 20 percent of the country that has dominated the national political discussion with extreme rhetoric. He tarred both parties with that charge . . . [Emphases added.]
Stephen Colbert also announced that he would be holding a counter-protest and march to "keep fear alive." In rallying against the 15-20 percent minority on either side of the political spectrum that dominates our political discourse, is one not in effect rallying against the Democratic and Republican parties themselves? against the mindless politics of the two-party state and duopoly system of government? against the corruption and deception we have come to expect from the representatives of the global warfare and corporate welfare state?

On the Radar in the Third Party and Independent Blogosphere

Some new discoveries in the third party and independent blogosphere:

The Indy Express was launched earlier this summer and provides an independent "view from the middle of the road."

We Stand Divided is a group blog devoted to the proposition that "Divided Government is Better Government." The Dividist is a "fiscal conservative, social liberal, and libertarian leaning independent."

Serf City is a publication of the Manhattan Libertarian Party. From a post on the recent dueling protests for and against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque":
I just got back to my office after a little impromptu flyering at the various demonstrations near Ground Zero. There were lots of cops on horseback which usually means someone will need to clear up a certain amount of biological waste product. But there was as least as much verbal horse shit being shoveled as there was the biological kind. One problem with a political system dominated by two parties is that regardless of which way you vote you are forced to vote for a certain amount of shit.
• The Cranky Critter blog states outright: "If you're not cranky, you're not paying attention." The Critter's operating assumption: "we're not being well-served by partisans on either side of the debate. And we're also not being well-served by ourselves, to whatever extent we shy away from unpleasant and inconvenient truths."

Tully's Page is a left-libertarian blog written from a rather singular perspective. Tully writes: "If you can imagine a blog written by a pragmatic libertarian; a Christian who is neither a theocrat nor a fundamentalist; and a father of 6 who is Gay - you've found it."

As always, if you've recently come across a new or notable third party or independent-oriented blog, or if you maintain one yourself, drop a link in the comments.

What do the Colbert Report, National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal Have in Common?

This week's column at CAIVN takes a look at the recent Pew Research Center survey of American news consumption habits, and unpacks its findings on the news reading, listening and viewing habits of self-described Independents. It turns out that, as a group, Independents are among most critical and skeptical news consumers in the United States. An excerpt from the article:
If you watch The Colbert Report, read the Wall Street Journal, and listen to National Public Radio, odds are that you are probably an Independent. That’s just one of the many noteworthy findings reported in the Pew Research Center survey of news consumption in the United States, which provides a number of insights into the reading, listening and viewing habits of American Independents. . . .

In the report’s audience profiles of print, radio, television and online news sources by party affiliation, Independents accounted for the largest audience shares of the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. . . .

Independents were least likely to prefer news sources that share their own point of view, with only 19% stating that they “prefer political news from my point of view.” This stands in stark contrast with conservative Republicans, who were most likely to prefer political news that mirrors their own point of view at 41%, as well as with liberal Democrats, 33% of whom stated that they prefer political news cast from their own political perspective. . . .

Democrats . . . are much more likely than Republicans or Independents to believe “all or most” of what is said by any given news organization, with one notable exception, namely, Fox News. Republicans are much less credulous, with one notable exception. They are almost twice as likely to believe “all or most” of what is said on Fox News than Democrats and Independents.

Independents are the most consistently skeptical consumers of news. They are less likely than Republicans to believe all or most of what is said by any news organization. For example, though 41% of the Wall Street Journal’s readers are Independents, only 19% of Independents believe all or most of what they read in the publication!
Read the whole thing.

That's Just Mean: Libertarian Beitler Excluded from NC Senate Debates by Law of Averages

According to a report at UNC's Daily Tarheel, Libertarian candidate for US Senate, Michael Beitler, will not be invited to a number of October debates being organized by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters and the Educational Foundation, despite the fact that Beitler successfully petitioned his way onto the state's ballot by obtaining 100,000 signatures in support of his effort. In a campaign press release published at Independent Political Report, Beitler responded to the snub, arguing that such exclusionary tactics on the part of the media deny voters the ability to make an informed choice when casting their ballots:
"If you are on the ballot, you should be included in the debate. By excluding qualified candidates, the media is denying voters the ability to make an informed choice. We encourage voters to get informed and get out the vote," said Beitler.
The official reason why the establishmentarian media organization has excluded Beitler from the forums is a familiar one. The group's president, Tim Morrisey, says Beitler simply hasn't demonstrated enough support in any polls to warrant his inclusion in the debates. As reported at WRAL:
North Carolina Association of Broadcasters President Tim Morrisey said Friday that Libertarian Michael Beitler had not been invited to the Oct. 11 and Oct. 21 debates because surveys fail to show him with at least 10 percent support. Morrisey said the threshold has been used before. [Emphasis added.]
Perceptive observers of this race will note that Beitler has indeed demonstrated 10% support in at least one poll. Following the first debate of the season, which was held earlier in the summer and included the Libertarian candidate, Beitler received a noticeable bump in the polls, garnering 10% support in a survey by Public Policy Polling. At the time, I wrote that this might ensure his inclusion in future debates:
the results of this poll may well ensure that Beitler is included in future debates, as 10% support in a "neutral" poll is one criterion of inclusion in such forums for many media outlets.
I probably should have known better. Even though surveys do not fail to show him with 10% support, Beitler is still being excluded from the forums organized by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters. I contacted the N.C. Association of Broadcasters to inquire about this obvious contradiction, and was told that candidates must show an average of 10% support across any number of surveys in order to be included in the forum. As Beitler's support has generally hovered around 6-7%, and not broken through the 10% mark, the apparent ex post facto technicality ensures his exclusion from the NCAB forums. Beitler will, however, be included in an October 13th debate organized by the League of Women Voters, who are clearly interested in ensuring that the people of North Carolina make an informed decision when they cast their votes for US Senate.

Democratic-Republican Party Government is Practical Political Nihilism: the Spirit of Party is Incompatible with Individualism and Collectivism

Partisans of the Republican and Democratic parties flatter themselves that the two-party state and duopoly system of government is, in one way or another, a concrete embodiment of an eternal struggle between world historical principles. In one of its most common forms, this conceit is framed as nothing less than an opposition between good and evil, in which the aims and goals of the political other are conceived as an evil that must be avoided at all costs and confronted at every turn, with the implication that this purely negative activity on one's own part is the very form and content of "fighting the good fight."

In another common variant, the opposition between the Democratic and Republican parties is framed as a grand struggle between competing philosophical visions of the nature of politics and government, distinguished by their respective emphases on the individual citizen or the aggregate social body, and by their reflexive positions regarding the proper role of government, its ideal size and scope etc. This presumption is shared by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike, and thus constitutes a primary element of the common ideology that sustains the reigning two-party state and duopoly system of government. But what if the spirit of party that characterizes Democratic-Republican politics and government is incompatible with both individualism and collectivism?

Though they agree on little else, ideologues of the Democratic and Republican parties rarely disagree when it comes to affirming their own self-importance. At Hullabaloo, Digby describes the development of her political consciousness as a liberal Democrat in the following way:
I came to see American politics as an endless struggle between two big competing visions with progress being made by two steps forward one step back most of the time.
Her understanding of the interrelationship between the Democratic and Republican parties is strikingly similar to that of conservative Republicans such as Manly from Manly's Republic, who argues that the Democratic and Republican parties are the heirs of the great foundational debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. He has written, for instance:
Americans are used to two major political parties because these represent the two differing approaches to the size and scope of the federal government.
At the Think 3 Institute, even Sam Wilson more or less tacitly accepts this general characterization of Democratic and Republican politics and ideology, though he explicitly states that the political and philosophical possibilities are not exhausted by the binary opposition. In a discussion of morality and democracy that is well worth reading in full, Sam writes:
we may as well recognize some kind of plurality of morality, with one morality placing an absolute priority on individual liberty, another on collective well-being, and others with different priorities.
Of course, an alleged concern for individual liberty and collective well-being on the part of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, is the result of nothing more than an abstraction from their rhetoric and common policy prescriptions. Because the GOP supposedly values individual liberty Republicans call for low taxes and small government. Because the Democratic party is supposedly concerned with the collective well-being of Americans, Democrats call for social programs and robust government. And this tension and opposition is seen as a decisive factor in the grand opposition between the ruling parties. In reality, however, it does little more than provide each side with the primary terms they employ in their criticism of the other: Republicans lambaste Democrats as totalitarian socialists and Democrats lambaste Republicans as individualist extremists.

The tragic irony is that Democratic-Republican party government results neither in the protection and expansion of individual liberty, nor in the effective establishment of and provision for our collective well-being. The reason for this is simple. The spirit of party that characterizes Democratic-Republican politics and government is incompatible with individualism and collectivism.

Insofar as a party mediates one's relation to government, society and fellow citizens, insofar as it serves as a mass vehicle for and medium of one's political activity, it is based on the negation of the individual through his or her subsumption into the mass of the organized group. On the other hand, even though it is a mass organization, a party is a necessarily partisan, sectional, political formation, which is thus predicated upon the negation of the collective in its totality, and therefore incapable of representing the social body as a whole.

Democratic-Republican party politics and government is based on the negation of the individual citizen and the collective social body. It is practical political nihilism. That nihilism is perfectly expressed by the bipartisan consensus in favor of the eternal reproduction and expansion of the global warfare and corporate welfare state over and against the expansion of individual liberty and the safeguarding of our collective well-being.

Evil is as Evil does: the Lesser Evil is the Enemy of the Greater Good

As I noted the other day, desperate Democrats are resorting to political histrionics in their efforts to convince voters to support the Democratic "lesser evil" over and against their Republican counterparts in their bipartisan conspiracy of dunces. In Colorado, embattled Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes has taken Democratic-Republican political theology to a new level, effectively declaring that his campaign is a fight against evil as such. From the Boston Herald:

A defiant Dan Maes told a group of conservatives gathered in Durango on Thursday that the political process is surrounded by evil.

"I love that you opened with prayer because this is not just political war, folks, this is a spiritual battle," Maes said in remarks reported by the Durango Herald.

"There is evil out there. When I interact with some of these people, I can feel the evil. They’re not evil people, but evil finds its way into the system. And we must stand and fight this to the end."

Unfortunately, I have not been able to track down a full transcript to determine the entire context of these remarks. Nonetheless, Maes apparently does not grasp the irony of denouncing the "evil of the system" from his position as a gubernatorial candidate for one of the two primary political factions which constitute that very system. Perhaps Maes' rhetorical excess was necessitated by the triviality of his assertion. Or maybe he really does believe that the best way to fight the devil is to declare one's allegiance to Satan. This is, after all, one of the primary tenets of Democratic-Republican political theology. They make the lesser evil the enemy of the greater good.

The choice in favor of evil, whether the result is support for a Democrat or a Republican, may actually go some way toward explaining the lack of accountability in Democratic-Republican party government. In a discussion of Immanuel Kant's conception of autonomy in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Guyer recounts one of the German philosopher's arguments on the nature of evil and wrong-doing. He writes:

because no human being is simply unaware of the demand of morality - that is implied by the 'fact of reason' - acting immorally never comes from mere ignorance of the moral law, but rather from deciding to exempt oneself from this obligation.

Does this not perfectly explain the way in which an individual such as Maes can not only denounce the political system of Democratic-Republican party government as evil, but also assert that he is engaged in a fight against the evil of that system even though, as a Republican, his candidacy explicitly represents the reproduction of the evil that defines the system? One might take this line of thought a step further and argue that carving out exemptions from the demands and obligations of morality and reason is the defining characteristic of Democratic-Republican party government. Sadly, this point is so obvious it needs virtually no elaboration. It is succinctly encapsulated by the maxim which states that "if the president does it, it's not illegal." In theory, the latter is not true, but under the conditions of Democratic-Republican party government the evasion of accountability is a matter of course, even on matters of such grave importance as illegal wiretapping, torture and war crimes.

Fortunately, not everyone in Colorado will have to suffer a choice in favor of the evil that is Democratic-Republican party government when they cast their votes for governor. Prominent Republicans in the state have already opted in favor of the greater good over and against the lesser evil and thrown their support behind Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo. Grassroots libertarian-leaning groups, on the other hand, have come out in support of Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Jaimes Brown. From the Highlands Ranch Herald:

When Liberty on the Rocks — which Langford describes as a free-market, free-mind, Libertarian party — was founded in 2008, the group had trouble finding candidates to run for office. Two years and many meetings later, the Denver-based group has chapters in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Gelnwood Springs and Lakewood, as well as nationwide. Langford heads up the Denver Tech Center Chapter.

“Two years ago we were struggling for candidates, and we have virtually a full ticket this time,” he said. “People are coming out of the woodwork this time.” Langford says he will vote for Jaimes Brown, of Centennial, who is this year’s Libertarian gubernatorial candidate.

Given their options, for conservatives, libertarians and probably many other folks in Colorado, the choice in favor of the lesser evil between the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates is in fact a choice to exempt oneself from the obligations and demands of morality and reason.

The Real Two-Party System: the Democratic-Republican Ruling Class vs. the Rest of Us

In recent weeks, Alan Keyes has published a series of articles on "America's Real Party System" at his blog Loyal to Liberty. Essentially, it provides a populist framework for conceiving contemporary and historical political antagonisms in the United States. In Part 1, Keyes argues that the Democratic-Republican two-party system obscures the primary political antagonism operative in the United States, that between the elites and the rest of us:
The liberal elite identified as the dog wagging rump of the GOP have their counterparts in the Democratic party. Behind the facade of the Democrat/Republican division, is an elitist division playing both sides to its advantage. Remove the overlay of the existing party labels and what we see at work is the real two party contest, more accurately labeled the elitists and the populists.

The populists are the de facto majority party. In a division of the house between the elitists and the populists, the elitists would lose routinely. In order to gain power, they must win the support of a sufficient number of populists to garner a voting majority. But if they do so frankly and openly, their populist allies would work against the stigma of being associated with elitism.

So the elite camp divides into two squadrons, each one assigned to forge an alliance with enough populists to achieve electoral success. One camp pretends to champion populist principles and values. The other pretends to champion the populist interest when it comes to the distribution of material goods. Meanwhile, in the background, both work to make sure that the elites protect and extend their power and control.
Part 2 deals with the history of the two-party state in the twentieth century and the rise of Barack Obama. Part 3 goes on to consider strategic possibilities for opposition to the ruling political class, specifically addressing the tea party movement:
If, during eras of elite ascendancy, the two most visible parties are tools of elite manipulation, then there is at all times a third party involved in all our political activities. It is the populist party, normally divided against itself by successful elite manipulation. In terms of its potential, it is always the majority party. The notion that “third parties fail” is therefore less an observation of fact than a statement of elite intention. . . .

It’s existence “hides in plain sight” the elite acknowledgment that the third party is not a possibility but an ever-present reality. The Tea Party label signifies the ambiguity of its existential status. It’s the Party that is not a party. It allows acknowledgment of the unified activity of the populist element, but with an irony intended to keep it from achieving, or even effectively aiming to achieve, a political result consonant with its real political strength. Though united in opposition to both the elite contrived parties, it exists in a form intended to prevent it from engendering and rallying around any leadership truly independent of their control.

Though it looks back upon, and forward to betrayal by the GOP, that party is supposed nonetheless to offer the only effective outlet for its unifying revulsion against the subversive elite agenda brought fully to light by the arrogant haste of the Obama faction. Tragically, if the populist element simply accepts the GOP’s plainly treacherous offer, the best it can hope for is to exchange the reality of America’s populist constitution for the virtual reality substitute of playing in a speciously contrived political sandbox. . . .
Keyes has also written a kind of introductory or summary article to the series at World Net Daily.

Third Party and Independent Daily is now on Twitter!

Over the weekend, I finally got around to setting up a long overdue Twitter account for Third Party and Independent Daily. So, if you're on the Twitter, be sure to check us out @thirdpartydaily.

Desperate Democrats and Liberal Lesser-Evilism: If You Vote Democratic, You Cease to be a Liberal or Progressive Precisely When It Matters Most

Faced with the prospect of large gains for the GOP in the House and Senate this fall, Democrats are becoming ever more desperate in their efforts to rally the dwindling number of duopolist dead-enders to support their faction of the ruling two-party state and duopoly system of government. Democratic strategists are clearly concerned about the possibility that liberal and progressive voters will cast their ballots for liberal and progressive third party and independent candidates for office rather than continue to support Democrats and their corporate overlords. Many progressives are considering the possibilities for alternative electoral alliances in the interests of defeating the Democratic-Republican bipartisan front. At FireDogLake, Jim Moss considers potential allies:
As progressives think about the prospect of a third party, many are looking in unlikely places for new allies – even as unlikely as the Tea Party . . . Instead, progressives should be looking for allies closer to home. Moderate liberals, independents, libertarians, and even some reasonable conservatives are the fields we need to be plowing.
On the other hand, self-described liberals and progressives who have yet to liberate themselves from the ideology that binds them to the mindless reproduction of the two-party state, are hell bent on ensuring that others do not act upon their individual declarations of independence. Consider a recent piece by Stephen Harrington at the Huffington Post. In the article, Harrington addresses the supposedly common claim that "there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans." He begins by accepting the premise, but then quickly notes that Republicans vigorously dispute it:

You hear that a lot these days, that there is no difference between the Democrats and the GOP. Both of America's political parties are run by corporations. So it doesn't matter which you vote for, the results will be the same. You equally hear that we need a third party that will be ideologically pure and immune from influence by special interest money. Good points all.

It is curious though. Republicans don't share the sentiment that there is no difference between the parties. In fact they are acting as if they find the distinction to be rather greater than at any time in the last century. The GOP is behaving as if the world will end if a single one of them compromises with the Democrats on anything.

The latter observation is true to a great extent. But, like their counterparts in the Democratic Party, the professional politicians and strategists in the Republican Party are, of course, professional liars and charlatans. The conceit that "the world will end if you do not vote Republican" is nothing more than an electoral ploy, which has proven successful in the past. Indeed, it is so successful, Harrington avails himself of its Democratic variant in the remainder of his article, conveniently providing us with an object lesson in the narcissism of small differences that characterizes the politics of Democratic-Republican party government. He writes:

In heading off the disaster that would have been a McCain/Palin administration, the Democrats and left have headed off the second self destruction of the capitalist GOP world, for 20 months. . . . It is enough to make you sick, as the exact same arguments from the right and disillusionment on the left wracks the first term of a potential second New Deal as they did on the outset of the first New Deal . . . Now the far right has conceived an attack on liberty . . . to make it easier to evade responsibility to the public . . .

This is a critical year, a year in which the fate of the nation is at stake as much as if it were invaded by a foreign power. The foreign power that currently threatens is not Islam, it's not socialist outsiders, it is a Republican party intent on imposing a feudal rule of corporations. . . .

Godless by American standards, the soulless corporations and GOP agentry are the clear and present danger, while they ridiculously and bigotedly purport Islam as a threat to hide behind . . .

the right will lead to the greatest economic and social havoc this nation has seen since the Civil War . . .

So Harrington admits the kernel of truth contained in the claim that "there's no difference between the Republicans and Democrats." He goes on to point out that Republicans do not share this view, and rather see their political opposition to the Democratic Party as a world historical struggle against the forces of evil, leaving the impression that this is nothing but rhetoric or a function of ideology, part of the party's electoral strategy. But then Harrington continues by arguing that opposition to the Republican Party is a world historical struggle against self-destruction, open attacks on liberty, racism, neo-feudalism, neo-Confederacy etc. in which the very fate of the nation is at stake!

It is difficult to know how to respond to these sorts of articles, which are quite common in the Democratic and Republican commentariat. Is Harrington a clever or not-so-clever ironist, a parodist of Republican rhetoric? Or is he actually oblivious to the fact that his discursive practice proves, yet again, how little difference there is between Republicans and Democrats? Whatever the case may be in that regard, in end effect, Harrington subscribes to the political theology that underpins Democratic-Republican party misrule: he is nothing more than a garden variety lesser-evilist. He writes:

you can complain that the Democrats are agents of the corporations too, but Democrats under the corporate thrall are fewer and with less, or no, allegiance to corporate power than have Republicans. . . . It is not a time to complain about how much the Democrats are under the thumb of corporations, not until after November 2nd. . . . Deal with the GOP first, with your vote, then you may deal with errant Democrats at your leisure.

In short: Harrington is a propagandist of the political status quo, a proponent of the reproduction of the two-party state and duopoly system of government, a reactionary supporter of the admitted evil that is Democratic-Republican party misrule. If you consider yourself a progressive or a liberal, but you vote Democratic, you cease to be a progressive or a liberal precisely when it matters most.

Divided Government and the Ideology of the Two-Party State

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll making the rounds in the political blogosphere today indicates that the "current political climate highly favors Republicans" in the run-up to the November elections. The poll shows, once again, that Americans are prepared to vote for candidates whose policies they do not in fact prefer. Ezra Klein sums up the poll's findings: "Americans prefer Democrats to Republicans, prefer voting for Republicans to voting for Democrats." I recently attempted to account for this paradox by considering the effects that the contradictory and reactionary ideology of lesser-evilism has on the American electorate. The new WaPo/ABC News poll provides another data point that reveals how the ideology of the two-party state and duopoly system of government leads individuals to favor candidates they do not in fact prefer. Effectively, it inquired whether respondents favor divided government, and found that they do, consistently:
Regardless of how you might vote in your own congressional district, do you think it's more important (to have the Democrats in charge of Congress, to help support Obama's policies), or (to have the Republicans in charge of Congress, to act as a check on Obama's policies)?

Dems in charge GOP in charge No opinion
9/2/10 39 55 6
7/11/10 43 51 6

Compare to:

Which statement comes closer to the way you think: Since the president is a Republican, we need (Republicans in charge of Congress to help support the president's agenda), or Since the president is a Republican, we need (Democrats in charge of Congress to act as a check on the president and his agenda).

Republicans Democrats No difference No
in charge in charge (vol) opinion
9/26/02 34 56 6 3
9/26/02 RV 36 55 6 3

I have argued before that divided government became more common in the United States as the Democratic and Republican parties auto-institutionalized the two-party state and duopoly system of government over the course of the twentieth century. From July 2009:
Over the course of the twentieth century, the voting public's preferences regarding the ideal party composition of government drastically changed. As I noted in 'unchecked, imbalanced,' in the first half of the twentieth century undivided government was the rule, interrupted by periods of divided government, which marked the exchange of undivided control between the major parties. In the second half of the twentieth century, divided government became much more common, increasing almost fourfold: between 1901 and 1951, there were four two-year periods of divided government, between 1951 and 2003 there were sixteen. (If this Wikipedia chart is to be trusted, that is.)

The twenty-first century has already witnessed, in quick succession, two periods of undivided party rule, first under the Bush administration and now the Obama administration. Accordingly, "divided government" has gone from being the rallying cry of Democrats to that of Republicans . . .
This development, and continued widespread support for divided government, demonstrates how the two-party state and duopoly system of government have eroded constitutional government in the United States. The constitutional separation of powers is no longer perceived as necessary and sufficient to check the imperial presidency that has been constructed by the cult of the executive in the Democratic and Republican parties. As we already know, however, government divided between the Democratic and Republican parties is also not sufficient to check the imperial presidency, the corporatist legislature, or the activist judiciary.

Richard Winger on C-Span's Washington Journal

Last week, Richard Winger of Ballot Access News was interviewed on C-Span's morning program, Washington Journal. Richard made his best case for ballot access reform in the face of Democratic-Republican opposition to voter choice and political competition. From C-Span's description of the segment:

Richard Winger, publisher of the Ballot Access News in San Francisco, shares his thoughts on the role that the Independent Party plays in politics. Mr. Winger has followed the growth that third parties have rated in national and local politics, specifically looking at their ability to appear on ballots.
The interview is about 40 minutes long and covers a lot of ground.

Holiday Weekend Headlines

Some headlines for the holiday weekend:

Third Party and Independent Daily is now on Twitter! I finally set up TPID's Twitter page the other day, just in time for the "official" campaign season.

• The Texas state legislature and the Democratic-Republican one-party state: "Let's focus on the 150-member House of Representatives . . . In 62 districts the Republicans on the ballot have no Democratic opponents. And the number of Democrats getting a free pass from Republicans is 45. This means that in 107 districts, or in seven out of every 10, the Republican or Democrat on the ballot should be getting ready for the 82nd Legislature."

• The Arizona state legislature and the Democratic-Republican one-party state: "two months before the general election, more than one quarter of the seats in the next Legislature are all but decided. For 22 candidates, the Nov. 2 election is less a contest and more a waiting game. They either have no challengers or face nominal opposition from third-party candidates who don't have the funding or the political-party apparatus to wage a competitive campaign."

• IL: Vote Third Party for Real Change: "Many say that voting for a third-party is throwing your vote away. Who buys in to that statement? The Democratic and Republican parties do. They don't want you to vote for someone else . . . I refuse to accept the lesser of two evils, to accept my vote doesn't matter, and to let the Democrats and Republicans continue to offer us subpar ideas, inaction, incompetence and corruption from their candidates. I'm voting Whitney."

• Illinois' third party candidates face a serious barrier in their lack of name recognition. According to a recent poll by the Chicago Tribune, the wide majority of respondents had never even heard of the Green and Libertarian party candidates for US Senate, LeAlan Jones and Michael Labno.

Happy Labor Day!

Democratic-Republican Party Government is a Crisis of Democracy

In recent weeks, the so-called "enthusiasm gap" between likely Republican voters and likely Democratic voters has been cause for serious concern among Democratic strategists. In a post at FireDogLake, JonWalker articulates the problem faced by partisan Democrats as if it were the result of third party competition. He writes:
It is sometimes much easier to understand American elections if you look at it as a three party system instead of a two party system. While Republicans and Democrats tend to be the only two parties that win most elections, there is the informal “just stay home” third party which is often the top choice for many Americans and can end up tipping the balance in many elections. In many elections, easily one quarter or more of people who have voted at least once before will not go to the polls, a share of the vote that many parties in true multi-party democracies would envy. Tom Jensen at PPP found that the alternative choice of just staying home could cost Democrats control of the state legislature in North Carolina . . . While Jensen is only looking at North Carolina, I suspect that we are seeing almost the exact same pattern elsewhere.
I think Walker underestimates the strength and numbers of the Just Stay Home Party. Even in the "historic" presidential election of 2008, in which voter turnout was higher than it had been at any time over the previous forty years, still only 56.8% of eligible voters cast a ballot. Over 43% of eligible voters sided with the Just Stay Home Party, far exceeding the turnout for Democrat Barack Obama, who likely received votes from under 30% of eligible voters. The Just Stay Home Party isn't just "the top choice for many Americans," as Walker states. Arguably, it is the top choice for the large majority of Americans in the great majority of elections. In the 1996 presidential race there were more Americans who sided with the Just Stay Home Party than there were who cast a ballot at all! If the figures linked above are to be believed, that is. But is that really so hard to believe? And what does that say about the state of American democracy under the conditions of Democratic-Republican party government? Democratic-Republican party government is a crisis of democracy.

FL-Gov: Bud Chiles Drops Out, Darcy Richardson Joins In

Following a couple weeks of speculation, independent Bud Chiles has officially withdrawn from the Florida gubernatorial race and thrown his support behind his former rival, Democrat Alex Sink. From the beginning, Chiles' strategy seemed to hinge on his widespread name recognition; his father, Lawton Chiles, was a fixture of Florida politics for almost half a century: from the State House to the State Senate, to the US Senate and finally the governor's mansion. Initially, the strategy appeared to pay off: when he jumped into the race, Chiles quickly demonstrated around 15% support in the polls, which likely included his name only because it was so familiar. However, the Independent proved incapable of building upon that base and his support began to dwindle, until this week when he dropped out of the race. No doubt, the corporate media and polling organizations will now pretend that there are only two candidates for governor in Florida, though this is not in fact the case.

Politics1-FL, for instance, lists candidates for the Independence and Libertarian parties alongside a number of independent gubernatorial tickets. Among the latter is economist and author Farid Khavari. Just yesterday, it was announced that Khavari has named Darcy G. Richardson as his running mate. Richardson is now a ballot-qualified candidate for Lieutenant governor. Regular readers of Poli-Tea may recall that Darcy is an author, historian and veteran third party and independent political activist, who is in the process of writing a comprehensive seven volume history of the American third party and independent political tradition, and is the co-founder of Uncovered Politics.

Khavari and Richardson's platform focuses on economic issues, and its centerpiece is a proposal for the formation of a state bank to address the many problems associated with the common practice of privatizing profits and socializing losses, with which we have become so familiar in recent years. "The banking industry's dirtiest secret," says Richardson, "is that it's half 'socialist,' and in the worst sense of that word. While privately held at the profit end, it externalizes all the attendant risks to the public. If the people of Florida are going to bear the risks of finance, we contend that they should also reap its benefits."

Unsurprisingly, one rarely if ever hears such proposals floated by the corporatist shills in the Republican and Democratic parties, one can only assume, because so many of them have been paid by their corporate masters to ensure the privatization of profit and the socialization of loss. But a number of third party and independent candidates for office this year are vocal supporters of the idea. In Illinois, the issue unites the Green and Libertarian party candidates for governor, Rich Whitney and Lex Green, both of whom have called for the formation of a state bank as an integral part of their respective financial and economic proposals, despite their often vehement opposition on many economic and financial issues.

We'll certainly be hearing more from Khavari and Richardson on this front in the coming weeks and months.

Update: LOL, I spoke too soon. We're already hearing more from Khavari on this front today! From Independent Political Report:
Khavari notes that North Dakota’s state bank, in existence since 1919, continues to outperform its private sector counterparts. “That’s because it’s accountable to the people over the long term instead of hell-bent on sucking its customers dry for short-term profits then gouging those same customers to recover its losses,” he says.

The Moderate Movement for Political Independence from the Ideological Shackles of the Two-Party State

From this week's column at the California Independent Voter Network, on the rise of the moderates:

In today’s political environment, it can be easy to forget that more than a third of Americans consider themselves to be moderates. Moderates are, of course, (in)famous for their rejection of partisan politics and their critique of the ideological and political polarization we have come to expect from the Democratic and Republican parties.

While moderates still constitute a significant proportion of both Democrats and Republicans (32% and 29% respectively), they can be found in the largest numbers among self-described Independents, of whom nearly half identify themselves as moderate (48%) . . . If current trends continue, we are likely to see an increase in moderate third party activism, as well as more high profile Independent candidates for office who seek to create a political base for themselves with the help of the moderate activist and voter.
The piece goes on to discuss the ongoing organizing activities of the California Modern Whig Party, high profile candidacies of moderate independents on the east coast, and some new developments in the centrist and moderate political blogosphere. The article quotes Alan Reynolds, Deputy State Chairman of the California Modern Whig party. Head over to Third Party and Independent Daily to read the full e-interview I conducted with him over the weekend. From the intro there:
The Modern Whig Party received a boost last week with a front page article in the Wall Street Journal that profiled the group and detailed its efforts to "tap the angry middle." The story led to coverage of the group by a number of other media sources, including the Daily Show's Indecision Forever blog, and Brian Lehrer's morning program on NPR in NYC. One of the Modern Whigs quoted in the WSJ story was Alan Reynolds, the Deputy State Chairman of the party's California affiliate. I contacted Mr. Reynolds, and he kindly agreed to answer a few questions via email. Our discussion covered his response to the WSJ article, his motivation for getting involved with the Whigs, their immediate plans in California and his take on the state's gubernatorial race, among other things.