Independents Write the President (Update)

As I noted yesterday, Independent Voting has begun a letter writing campaign to president Obama.  The page describing the effort is now up at their activist center.  From that page:
On the October 12 conference call, Jackie Salit urged participants to "Write to President Obama":  
"What do independents have to say to Obama? That's a good question, because there are many things to say. For one thing, we might want to say to him -- We are here! But he knows that.

We might want to say to him, President Obama, We mean you no harm but we will press ahead to build our movement and pursue the structural reforms that will create more uncertainity for your party and for the Republican Party and you may not like that. And/or we might want to let him know that many Americans have come to believe that reform of any kind -- education reform, Wall Street reform, energy reform, immigration reform -- is not possible without political reform and that is what we, the independents are doing.

Let Obama know that there is a movement growing from the bottom up that does not equate a bi-partisanship with non-partisanship, and that we want independents to be included in the process at every level and at every step along the way. We are Americans concerned not with party control, but with the development of our country."

With election "fever" at full throttle, it's an important moment for independents to wage our midterm campaign. Before you vote on Tuesday, send a letter to the President! The letters written so far (see below for some excerpts) are diverse, innovative and reflective of the powerful statement that we in the independent movement are making about the need to change the political culture. Let's write 50 more letters by Tuesday.

Here is where you send your letter.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Email the president at:
Fax: 202-456-2461

Please send us a copy of your letter to or fax to: 212-609-2801.
Read the whole thing to see excerpts from some of the letters that have already been submitted.  Also, as I wrote yesterday, if any Poli-Tea readers participate in the effort, feel free to send a copy my way as well (email address is in the left sidebar just below Alice at the Mad Tea Party), I'll publish it at Third Party and Independent Daily, and excerpt it here at Poli-Tea.  

Independents Write the President

As part of an effort launched by Independent Voting, Independents across the country have begun a letter writing campaign to President Obama.  From Nancy Hanks at The Hankster:
Dear Mr. President,

The Partisan Revolution is over. The time for partisanship and factionalism has passed. Whatever the midterm elections "reveal", real progress for our country cannot be made under the current partisan system. I am writing to you as part of the campaign by CUIP/ to encourage you to support structural political reform [such as open primaries, ranked voting, nonpartisan elections, etc.] as a way forward for our country and the whole world

I'm sure I am only one of many people who called my dad on election night November 4, 2008, to celebrate a magical moment. I got home around 11:30pm to Sunnyside Queens from Harlem New York, after the clear and decisive numbers were announced. Voices resounded from kids in my neighborhood yelling "OBAMA" out their windows as I lingered on the stoop to my apartment building.  "I never thought this would happen in my lifetime," my dad said . . . [Emphasis added.] 
Another lengthy submission, from Solomon Kleinsmith at Rise of the Center:
Mr. President,
Had it not been for independents in states that had open primaries swinging for you in your primary struggle with Hillary Clinton, you clearly would have never made it into office. With this in mind, it is particularly disappointing that you’ve so ignored us in several important ways over the last two or so years since you took office. . . .

You’ve lost the confidence of so many independents… not because of bad public relations, but because of your actions. Independents are hypersensitive to spin both from the GOP and your party and administration, and its disturbing that your talking heads refuse to see the writing on the wall . . . Quit fooling yourself, quit listening to talking heads and the political hacks I’m sure you’re surrounded with… and start listening to us instead. . . . [Emphasis in original.]
Unfortunately, I could not track down a description of the letter-writing campaign at Independent Voting.  But Solomon states:
Someone I know that works at pointed out that they have a promotion going on right now, asking independents to write letters, from short little notes to full length letters, to the president and send them a copy . . . If you’d like to make a submission, feel free to email them at And to send your message to the president, use the following link:
If any Poli-Tea readers are interested in participating, feel free to send me a copy as well, I'd be happy to publish your letters to the President here and/or at Third Party and Independent Daily. 

Best Political Ads and Campaign Videos for Independent Candidates et al.

Since my initial post from late last month on the year's best political ads for third party and independent candidates, a ton of new ads and campaign videos have been released by candidates across the country, and across the political spectrum, for elected offices at all levels of government.  In a series of posts this week, Poli-Tea has been highlighting some of the best new ads out there, but organized by party or political affiliation.  Monday's post featured Green Party political ads. Wednesday's followed up with a focus on Libertarian Party candidates.  Today, in the final installment of the series, we take a look at some of the best new ads and short videos from Independent, Independence Party and Constitution Party candidates.

Best Surprise Ending:  "Lawn Signs," from Tom Horner, Independence Party candidate for governor of Minnesota.

Best "Negative" Ad:  The two-party system is the "Elephant in the Room" in another recent television spot from Tom Horner, Independence Party candidate for governor of Minnesota

Best Positive Ad: "The Future," from Eliot Cutler, Independent candidate for governor of Maine.

Most High-Profile Endorsements:  In "Stand Up," Independent candidate for governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, touts the support of Barack Obama and Mike Bloomberg.

Most Informative 30-Second Promo:  TV ad from Jake Towne, an Independent candidate for US House in Pennsylvania.

Sweetest Endorsement:  This video from Jana Kemp, Independent candidate for governor of Idaho, features some outtakes from the filming of a very special endorsement.

Best Parody of a Credit Card Commercial:  Charlie Crist, Independent candidate for US Senate in Florida, goes on the attack against Republican Marco Rubio and the FL GOP's credit card scandal.  One in a series of aggressive attack ads.

Most Effective Anti-Illegal Immigration Ad: "Bad Policies Kill People," from Tom Tancredo, Constitution Party candidate for governor of Colorado.

Most Succinct Appeal to the Frustrated Voter: "The Blame Game," from Glenn Wilson, Independent candidate for US House in Michigan.  See also, "Glenn Wilson vs. the Dons," which is undoubtedly one of the best ads of the year. 

Funniest Short Video: "Interview with Two Zombies," from Jake Towne, Independent candidate for US House in Pennsylvania.  Though not technically an ad, this short video from Jake Towne, in which the candidate is interviewed by two zombies, a Democrat and a Republican, literally had me laughing out loud. 

And that concludes a week of posts bringing together some of the best ads out there for this year's crop of third party and independent candidates for elected office.  Of course, there are surely a great many videos that I still haven't seen or unknowingly passed over.  If there's a good one out there that you don't see here, drop a link in the comments.

A Libertarian's Declaration of Independence from the Republican Party

At Students for Liberty, UC Berkeley, Casey Given declares his independence from the Republican Party in a post entitled "The Myth of the Two-Party System."  He writes:
Having moved to a new place for the school year, I recently re-registered to vote for the upcoming election. Alongside my change of address, I also decided to change my party, switching from Republican to Libertarian, thus concluding my indecisive wavering for the last two years over which one to choose. . . . it seems now that whenever my “Big L” Libertarianism comes up in conversation, several of my friends seem to have the same punch line for me: “You shouldn’t have switched. Sure, Republicans are bad, but at least they’re lesser of the two evils, and they have an actual chance of winning!”
Given argues against siding with the lesser evil on the basis of the fact that they are admittedly still evil, and then asks whether there is indeed a difference in the degree of evil between the twin evils of the Democratic and Republican parties:
Perhaps I’m just blind, but I fail to distinguish any semblance of dissimilarity between Republicans and Democrats in modern politics. On the federal level, both parties have supported foreign interventionism in Iraq and Afghanistan, massive bailouts via the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), violations of our civil liberties via the PATRIOT Act, and secretive prisons overseas such as Guantanamo Bay. And, mind you, this is under both Bush and Obama. Similarly, on the state level . . .
The now-standard Republican rejoinder to this argument admits that the GOP "lost its way," but then pleads for "one more chance," and points to the rhetorical opposition of Republicans to the Democrats' evil agenda.  The association between American voters and the major parties resembles nothing so much as a violently abusive relationship.  The partisans of the two-party state rely on the voters' imaginary identification with their captors, the ideological prison guards of our political system, to force acceptance of an intolerable status quo and state of affairs.  Freedom and independence today begins with freedom and independence from the Democratic and Republican parties.

Best Libertarian Party Political Ads and Campaign Videos

Since my initial post from late last month on the year's best political ads for third party and independent candidates, a ton of new ads and campaign videos have been released by candidates across the country, and across the political spectrum, for elected offices at all levels of government.  In a series of posts this week, Poli-Tea is highlighting some of the best new ads out there, but organized by party or political affiliation.  Following Monday's post featuring Green Party political ads, today's focus is on Libertarian Party candidates.   Stay tuned later this week for campaign ads and videos from Independents.

Most True to Political Life:  In "Three Political Stooges," a supporter of Libertarian candidate for US Senate in Florida, Alex Snitker, lampoons the Democrat, Republican and Independent in the race, and urges viewers to "keep the stooges out of office."  Be sure to keep an eye on Crist's affiliation. 

Best Series of Ads: In a recent installment from his stellar series of ads, Libertarian candidate for US House in Ohio, Travis Irvine, "gives the two-party system the third finger."  See also, "Time for Pizza." 

Clearest Deconstruction of Democrat-Republican Lies, aka PromisesChuck Donovan, Libertarian candidate for US Senate in Georgia.

Twin Evils and the Bipartisan Charade: Warren Redlich, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York. 

Most Likely to Appeal to Redditors: "Beni-Wan Cat-Obi," Star Wars and the wisdom of kitties!?  Which humans is your cat endorsing? From Erin Lale, Liberty candidate for Nevada State Assembly.

Frontal Attack on Corporate Welfare: "Beitler is Better" from Michael Beitler, Libertarian for US Senate, North Carolina.

Best Pun:"It Only Feels Kinky the First Time," featuring Kinky Friedman, for Robert Nowotny, Libertarian candidate for Texas State Representative. 

Honorable Mention: Radio ad for James Rogers, Libertarian for US House, Michigan

Honorable Mention: Targeted radio ads for Steve Kubby, Libertarian for South Lake Tahoe City Council, one ad for the fellas and one for the ladies.  Bonus: Kubby's classic South Park parody from 1999 is also now on Youtube:

As always, if there's a great video out there that you don't see here, drop a link in the comments.  For more Libertarian campaign videos, see also the Libertarian Party's Youtube Channel.  Stay tuned later this week for ads from indies.

The Case for Strategic Third Party Voting in the New York Gubernatorial Race (Updated)

In every election, among those who cast their ballots for the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, there are no doubt a large percentage who do so against their better judgment and even against their own will.  These voters go by many names.  Sometimes they are called defensive voters, who cast their ballots for the candidate of one major party so as to defend against the election of the candidate from the other.  Others are lesser-of-two-evils voters, who assert that casting a ballot for a third party candidate is "throwing one's vote away." Some are strategic voters, who would rather support an independent or third party candidate but are plagued by the same worries as the defensive voter or the lesser-evilist, and so on.

Though I am, of course, a proponent of third party and independent politics in and for itself, in New York's gubernatorial race, a strong case can also be made for what we might call strategic third party voting.  There are likely very few people who have any doubt what the outcome of this contest will be.  Democrat Andrew Cuomo leads his nearest rival, Republican Carl Paladino, by twenty to forty percentage points, according to recent polls. As we approach election day, Democrats have little to worry about and Republicans little to hope for.  In other words, the dynamics that motivate defensive voting in favor of the major party candidates are simply not in play in this race.

As I wrote last week, if you support Democrats because you still believe the myth that they stand for the interests of the middle and working class, that they provide a viable opposition to Republicans, that they stand for social values and justice, there is no question that you should vote for Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins.  On the other hand, if you support Republicans because you still believe the myth that they are opponents of big government, that they stand for individual rights and liberties, and that they provide a viable opposition to the Democrats, there is no question that you should cast your ballot for Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich.  Given the state of Democratic-Republican party politics, only the most intellectually dishonest progressives, liberals, conservatives and libertarians could argue with these basic points.  However, ideological and philosophical reasoning aside, there is also a strategic reason to support the Green and Libertarian candidates for governor.

If the Green and Libertarian party gubernatorial candidates receive more than 50,000 votes, the Green and Libertarian parties are assured ballot access on all New York ballots for the next four years.  Without an assured ballot line going forward, Green and Libertarian candidates for any office would have to engage in a daunting petitioning effort, potentially having to gather thousands of signatures, just to ensure that they appear on the ballot.  However, if the Green and Libertarian parties are assured a ballot line, the ballot access hurdle is substantially lower, requiring petitions with dozens rather than thousands of signatures.

Many people who are sympathetic to the third party and independent critique of the two-party state and duopoly system of government often argue that alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties must be built from the bottom up, beginning at the local level, and they are thus hesitant to support third party candidates for higher offices.  However, in New York as in many other states, the Democratic and Republican parties have structured ballot access law such that the optimal political strategy for any third party is to wage difficult campaigns for higher offices they are unlikely to win, in the hopes of assuring ballot access and thus facilitating the efforts of later candidates for lower offices. 

According to the certified ballot of the New York State Board of Elections, this year there are upwards of forty different races in which a Democrat or Republican is running for office unopposed!  In dozens of other contests, voters will be faced with a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, which, as we all know, is often effectively equivalent to having no choice at all.  Unlike the Working Families Party or the Conservative Party, the Green and Libertarian parties are highly likely to run their own candidates for office rather than simply rubber stamp those offered up by the Democrats and Republicans. 

A vote for the Green or Libertarian candidate for governor of New York is a vote in support of political choice and competition.  If you are a progressive or liberal who would like to see more liberal and progressive challengers to the reigning two-party state over the course of the next four years, you should cast your ballot for Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor.  Similarly, if you are a conservative or libertarian who would like to see more conservative and libertarian challengers to the reigning two-party state over the course of the next four years, you should cast your ballot for Warren Redlich, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor.  Or are you satisfied with the state of New York State?

Update:  I contacted Richard Winger of Ballot Access News to make sure that I had my facts straight regarding ballot access law.  Via email, he agrees that the Green and Libertarian parties would indeed be in a far better position if they qualified for a ballot line, and adds: "They could then run statewide nominees with no petition at all.  But their district and county and municipal candidates would need petitions to get themselves on primary ballots."  [Emphasis added.] 

Best Green Party Political Ads and Campaign Videos

As I noted yesterday, since my initial post on the year's best political ads for third party and independent candidates, a ton of new ads and campaign videos have been released by candidates across the country, and across the political spectrum, for elected offices at all levels of government.  In a series of posts this week, Poli-Tea will be highlighting some of the best new ads out there, but organized by party or political affiliation.  Today's focus is on Green Party candidates.  Later this week, I'll feature recent videos from Libertarian and Independent candidates across the country.

Best Mashup Video: From Punk Patriot for David Curtis, Green candidate for governor of Nevada

Best Anti-Duopoly Video: "Think Outside the Box," from John Gray, Green candidate for US Senate in Arkansas

Most Fearless Video: "Where are the fucking jobs?" from Howie Hawkins, Green candidate for Governor of New York

Best Grassroots Support Video: "Moms for Hugh," from Hugh Giordano, Green candidate for State Representative in Pennsylvania

Hugh from Levinth Hour on Vimeo.

Best Homage to "Moms for Hugh": "I Support Jeremy," from Jeremy Karpen, Green candidate for State Representative in Illinois

Best Series of Attack Ads: Tom Clements, Green Candidate for US Senate in South Carolina, goes on the attack against his Republican opponent Jim Demint. Follow the link for all three ads.

Most Street Cred: Laura Wells, Green Candidate for Governor of California.  The ad below features images of the gubernatorial candidate's arrest outside a debate from which she had been excluded. 

Most Creative Use of Political Cliche: In "Fresh Air," Ben Manski, Green candidate for State Assembly in Wisconsin, suggests that we can thank the coal lobby for the traditional "smoke filled room."

Best Ad from a State Affiliate: In "Just Because," the Green Party of New York makes its pitch for Green candidates in the Empire State.

Many thanks to Green Party Watch, On the Wilder Side and Independent Political Report for keeping tabs on all these campaigns. They were indispensable resources for tracking down the above videos.  See also the Green Party's video page.  And, of course, I am certain there are many Green Party ads and campaign videos I overlooked or simply did not see.  Did I miss one from a Green candidate in your neck of the woods?  Drop a link in the comments.  Stay tuned for a roundup of Libertarian and Independent ads and campaign videos later this week.

NY-Gov: Where are the "F*@king Jobs"? The Bipartisan Effort to "Waste Your Money"

It seems like a ton of new ads for third party and independent candidates have been released since my initial post, from late last month, on the year's best political ads for third party and independent candidates.  So I'm planning on putting together a follow-up post or two, over the course of the week, highlighting these more recent ads. But here's a little taste, from New York's Green and Libertarian candidates for governor.  "Where are the f*@king jobs?" is the new campaign video from Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for governor of New York.

Warren Redlich, the Libertarian candidate for governor of New York has also recently put out a new video highlighting the Democratic-Republican bipartisan effort to "waste your money":

The Difference Between Two-Party Politics and the Politics of Independence

It is a veritable cliche that Democratic-Republican party politics long ago degenerated into a charade in which the major party candidates and their surrogates traffic and trade in nothing more than substance-less soundbites and prefabricated talking points.  And, of course, the drones in the corporate media eat up the bullshit shoveled by these campaigns and spoon-feed it to a more or less unwilling public.  In order to differentiate themselves from their Democratic and Republican opponents, third party and independent candidates are effectively forced to engage in substantive policy discussions and debates.  Ironically, it is probably for this very reason that third party and independent candidates are not taken seriously by the mainstream media and a significant number of voters.  The opposition between the politics of the two-party state and the politics of independence could not be more clear than it is in the race for US Senate in Connecticut.  The Hartford Courant has begun to notice the difference:

Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal are waging an ugly, multimillion-dollar battle for a seat in the U.S. Senate, but lost amid the noise and heat generated by that contest are the political ambitions of three other candidates.

John Mertens and Warren Mosler are each affiliated with minor parties; write-in candidate Brian K. Hill is running on his own. Yet each man has devoted a considerable amount of time to his quest. Mosler and Hill have invested thousands of their own dollars as well.

Instead of snappy sound bites and glitzy ads, Mertens and Mosler have websites packed with position papers. While the sniping between Blumenthal and McMahon has focused on character and personality, Mertens and Mosler favor wonkish assessments of monetary policy or arcane discussions about the politics of cellulose-based ethanol production.
John Mertens recently received endorsements from Connecticut Citizens for Ballot Initiative and Christina Tobin, the Chair and Founder of Free and Equal.  Check in at John Mertens for US Senate.

The Foreclosure Crisis in the People's House

In recent weeks, Democrats and their allies have taken to criticizing the Chamber of Commerce among other lobbying organizations for their acceptance and use of "foreign funds" to influence the outcome of elections in the United States.  From Greg Sargent at the Washington Post, last week:
The White House will keep up its assault on outside spending by conservative groups and will continue to press the case about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's foreign money, despite hints of retreat on the latter issue, senior adviser David Axelrod told me in an interview this afternoon . . .

"The fact that these front groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars from undisclosed sources on attack ads to influence these elections is a serious issue and we're going to continue to raise it," Axelrod told me. He added: "As we've said from the beginning, the prospect that foreign controlled companies might somehow be involved, this was opened up in the Citizens United debate, and it continues to be a concern."
This effort began in earnest toward the end of August, when the president argued in a weekly video address that transparency in television advertising will "stop the corporate takeover of our democracy."  From the video address:
this summer, [we're] also seeing a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names.  We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them.    The reason this is happening is because of a decision by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case – a decision that now allows big corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections.  They can buy millions of dollars worth of TV ads – and worst of all, they don’t even have to reveal who is actually paying for them.  You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.  You don’t know if it’s BP.  You don’t know if it’s a big insurance company or a Wall Street Bank.   [Emphasis added.]
As we all know, the Democrats and Republican parties are owned and operated by their corporate paymasters.  Someone should inform the president, because he appears unaware, that corporations hijacked our democracy some time ago.  Indeed, he wouldn't be sitting where he is today were it not for the generous support of his corporate sponsors.

But what if we had a more expansive definition of what constitutes "foreign influence" in our elections?  In the early days of the republic, if I remember my history correctly, most Americans did not identify themselves first and foremost as Americans, that is, as citizens of the United States.  Rather, their primary identification was with their state or even their locality.  They were New Yorkers or Virginians first and Americans second.  Meddling on the part of the federal government or other states was itself seen as undue foreign influence.

Today virtually all members of House of Representatives are almost completely bankrolled by precisely these sorts of "foreign interests."  Money flows into their campaign coffers from corporations and organizations based outside of their districts and states.  The people's house has been foreclosed upon and stolen right out from under us.  In a post on political panhandling from last summer, I highlighted a number of findings from a study by the Maplight organization, which showed, among other things, that:
• For 99% of U.S. House members (418 out of 421), Washington, DC was among their top 5 contributing states. . . .
• Almost all House members, 97%, raised more than half of their funds from outside their congressional districts.
• Five House members raised 99% or more of their funds from outside their congressional districts.
• Only 13 House members, or 3%, raised most of their funds from within the district where their voters live
Given these statistics, it is any wonder that Democrats and Republicans are incapable of representing the interests of their constituents?  Their loyalties lie elsewhere: out of district, out of state.  Only the most naive or cynical individual could conclude otherwise.  The other day, I received a press release about a new documentary that examines the lobbying system in the United States, entitled, The Best Government Money Can Buy.  From the release:
The documentary features beltway insiders and watchdogs from both sides of the aisle speaking very candidly about their process; the link between campaign finance and lobbyists; how our elected officials have become more beholden to the special interests than their constituents and, most significantly how - lip service aside - there’s little motivation by the Members to change the system.
A number of segments from the movie have already been released online.  One features dueling interviews with Daniel Newman, the CEO of Maplight, mentioned above, and Nick Calio, the Executive Vice President of Global Government Affairs at Citi Group.  Calio states, with a straight face, that the current fundraising regime "keeps members of Congress closer to their constituents in some ways than almost anything else does." Daniel Newman, on the other hand, lets the statistics speak for themselves when he notes that "79% of all the money raised by members of the US House came from outside their district . . . [and that] 57% came from outside their state."

The Best Government Money Can Buy Clip #10 from Cinema Libre Studio on Vimeo.

The Conservative Case for Third Party and Independent Politics

At the Patriot Post, Mark Alexander asks whether third party conservatives are "fixers or spoilers," and considers the dilemma between "purism and pragmatism" felt by so many voters.  He writes:
Many Patriot readers have asked: "How should one vote when a third-party candidate is more conservative than the Republican offering? Should one vote for the lesser of two evils on the major party tickets? Is a vote for a third-party conservative a wasted vote or, worse, one that takes votes from a moderate on the ticket, and seats a Leftist?"
The answers, of course, depend on one's affinity for purism versus pragmatism, and the particular circumstances and consequences of each political contest.  Purists are those who rigorously and steadfastly adhere to established traditions and principles in the conduct of their affairs, in application both to individual and societal matters.  Pragmatists, on the other hand, are those who take a practical approach to arriving at solutions, even if that means supporting the lesser of two evils. They thus try to strike a balance between principles and practicality rather than take a strict ideological line.
He concludes:
in the opinion of this humble purist, who knows when to exercise some pragmatism, I suggest you vote early, and make your vote count! If you are faced with a choice between a third-party conservative and a Republican moderate, and you can vote for the most conservative candidate without seating a Leftist as a consequence, do so. If not, hold your nose and vote for the most electable conservative on the ticket.
By coincidence, the Wading Across blog also addressed this very same issue in a lengthy post today, but argues that the two-party system has become so dysfunctional that the so-called pragmatic option of working with and within the major parties is no longer viable:
The two party system is flawed, and yet we are yearly told we should prop it up because it’s the only way. Perhaps the real answer is to let the Republican party flop and create a new party. Or, conversely to watch the Democrat party implode and see all of the moderates (RINOs and DINOs) coalesce. The two-party system in this nation has seen such things occur before, though it’s been over 150 years. Maybe it’s time for that again. Maybe it’s time for people to vote for the individual, and not the party – and to not just pay lip service to that statement as many often do.

It will not be the end of the world or this nation if the Republican party does not regain control next month or in 2012. Fight for this country with conviction and principles, not pragmatism and compromise. Fear not. Too many people give in to pragmatism over conviction out of fear for the future. If our founders had been pragmatic, we would never have become a nation.

On the Radar in the Third Party and Independent Blogosphere

It's been a while since the last roundup of my recent discoveries in the third party and independent blogosphere, so there are a few more than usual.  All are well worth checking out:
The Punk Patriot is dedicated to "life, liberty and the pursuit of a less f**cked up government."  Over the last week, the PP has been closely following the scandalous arrest of Green Party candidate for governor of California, Laura Wells.  Wells was charged  trespassing when she tried to attend  – as a spectator! – a gubernatorial debate she was barred from participating in. 

• At The Extreme Moderate, Curt Day publishes two or three original articles per month.  In his most recent piece, Day calls for the overthrow of the two-party system.

Liberty Talk is a Libertarian, but Republican-leaning blog, "engaged in the fight to sustain liberty, conservative ideals, and free market capitalism."

Wild Irish Rose provides occasional punditry from a moderate independent perspective, but we can expect more in the future. Having just rebooted the site, Irish Rose writes, "The internet is chock full of asshats, extremists, crazies and hypocrites who deserve to be driven out into the light and exposed, and I’ll be doing a lot of that here. I also need a good place to discuss politics, exercise my perverted Irish sense of humor, engage in sarcasm and snark, and show my appreciation for parody. This seems the logical place for it."
Nihilo Zero is an anarchist-leaning blog that is, unfortunately, only updated a couple times a month.  The site offers, "radical thoughts on a variety of issues ranging from economics & environmental degradation to protests & the military-industrial complex. For freedom, sustainability, and revolution."  Most recently, N.Zero has expressed reservations about the upcoming Stewart/Colbert rally

Preserving Freedom is the blog of Jim Rongstad, and an affiliate of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota.  Today he considers "the false hope of Republican promises."

The Independent Rage notes that independents are "relevant, angry and everywhere."  The blog is dedicated to the proposition that "whenever you stand up against slimeballs, you're doing the right thing."  Oh yeah, there is also "The Ladies Panel" in the sidebar. 

Noah Kaplowitz is a Libertarian leaning eponymous blog.  It offers "commentary on the subjects of politics, political philosophies, history and conspiracy theories."  Kaplowitz notes, "I believe in liberty, self governance, individuality, personal responsibility and small government. . . . Oh, and I am running for President in 2012. Check out my full Political Platform."

The Center for Election Science is a new organization dedicated to voting reform and the study of voting methods and methodologies, and appears to be partial toward approval and range voting.  See also their Google Group and Yahoo Group
As usual, if you've recently come across any noteworthy third party or indy blogs, or maintain one yourself, drop a link in the comments.

NY-Gov: Third Party Candidates Eclipse Democrat and Republican in Inclusive Debate

Last night was the first, and likely last, debate featuring all seven ballot-qualified gubernatorial candidates in the state of New York.  In addition to the shills of the Democratic and Republican parties, many New Yorkers got their first look at Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Warren Redlich, Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party, Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, and Jimmy McMillan, running on the Rent is Too Damn High ballot line.  McMillan is today widely seen as having stolen the show with his eccentric style and animated delivery. 

Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino perfectly embody everything that is wrong with the two-party state and duopoly system of government.  Cuomo is a professional politician, and, as son of former governor Mario Cumo, a representative of the hereditary ruling class that is being bred by the Democratic-Republican party establishment.  Paladino is a multi-millionaire and lifelong Democrat who changed his affiliation to the Republican party just a few years ago, likely in preparation for his campaign to purchase the GOP's nomination for governor.  On stage with the five other gubernatorial candidates, long-time grassroots political activists, a businessman and a former madam, Cuomo resembled nothing so much as the proverbial used car salesman, and Paladino a broken man.

The presence of the Green and Libertarian candidates, Howie Hawkins and Warren Redlich, revealed just how superficial the opposition is between the Democrat and the Republican.  If you support  Democrats because you still believe the myth that they stand for the interests of the middle and working class, that they provide a viable opposition to Republicans, that they stand for social values and justice, there is no question that you should vote for Howie Hawkins (or Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, for that matter).  As noted by the Daily Caller, Cuomo did his best to "distance himself from the progressive, Democrat agenda."  On the other hand, if you support Republicans because you still believe the myth that they are opponents of big government, that they stand for individual rights and liberties, and that they provide a viable opposition to the Democrats, there is no question that you should cast your ballot for Warren Redlich.  

As noted above, it was Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High party who stole the show at the debate.  With his strong stage presence and eccentric style – an elaborate beard, black gloves, etc. – McMillan was an unforgettable figure.  And with his fast paced delivery, he likely was able to speak twice as many words, if not more, than his rivals in the small amounts of time allotted by the debate moderators.  As for his plan, McMillan stated that, if he is elected governor, he will declare an economic state of emergency in New York, and provide immediate relief to renters across the state, with an emphasis on small businesses and parents, in order to help put "money in your pocket and food on the table."

In its coverage of the debate, the headline at the New York Times reads: "Albany Governor Debate Verges on Farce."  As the political establishment's official paper of record, the NYT obviously bristled at the idea that anyone other than the Democratic and Republican party candidates would be included in the forum.  Yet the real farce in US politics today is most clearly apparent in the delusion that the sham opposition between Republicans and Democrats provides the people of the United States with a choice of candidates capable of representing the people's interests in government, rather than those of corporatist demagogues or the hereditary ruling class.

Toward a Taxonomy of Duopolist Talking Points: Countering the Ideologues of the Two-Party State

As election day approaches we are likely to see proponents of the two-party state publish more and more articles railing against third party and independent voting, against third party and independent candidates for office and against third party and independent politics as such.  Any thoroughgoing analysis of the ideology that underpins the two-party state and duopoly system of government would eventually have to produce a taxonomy of the duopolist ideologue's arguments against third party and independent political activism.  Longtime readers of Poli-Tea might recall any number of posts detailing the inconsistencies and weaknesses of the most common arguments put forward by partisan Democrats and Republicans to dissuade others from building a viable opposition to the tyranny of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government.  For example:
the historical argument states that because many third party and independent candidates have been unsuccessful in the past, they will never be successful in the future
the tautological argument states that third party and independent candidates will never win an election because we have a two-party system
the spoiler argument presumes that a vote for a third party or independent candidate is a wasted vote
the procedural argument states that third party and independent candidates cannot win elections because the rules of the game are rigged against them
• the hysterical alarmist argument states that there is no time to build a third party or independent political movement because if we don't vote for a Democrat or Republican in the next election, we're all going to die
• and so on . . .
It might be rather interesting to construct a psycho-political profile of the duopolist ideologue from these various arguments.  One might easily conclude, for instance, that the proponent of the two-party state is:
• an historical determinist, a fatalist even;
• incapable of independently-minded critique of the antiquated institutional forms that dominate our politics;
• a reactionary eager to prop up the ruling party-political establishment;
• always on the lookout for a means of rationalizing his unwillingness or inability to declare his independence from the politics of the two-party state;
• a perennial political apocalypticist, without a historical sense
• and so on . . .
It may be helpful to keep these potential traits in mind when countering the ideologues of the two-party state.  The onslaught of 2010 is already in full swing.  Let's consider but two examples.  At the Orlando Tea Party, Judson Phillips demonstrates that this tea party group has effectively betrayed its historical namesake and allowed itself to become an appendage of the ruling political establishment.  Phillips' article does nothing more than regurgitate the talking points of the duopolist ideologue.  He writes:
within the tea-party movement there is a small but loud group calling on members not to vote Republican, but instead to vote for a third party, such as the Constitution Party or the American Independent Party. Those who call for tea-party people to vote for these third parties point out that the Republicans cannot be trusted. The last time the Republicans were in power, they were as bad as the Democrats. They are absolutely right . . .
Unfortunately, we have no alternative. . . . this is America. We have a two-party system. . . . For those who still support these third parties, let me point out that none of them has ever elected a senator, congressman or governor. I am not sure they have even gotten someone elected as dog catcher. . . . This year, we need to stop the Obama/Pelosi/Reid axis of fiscal evil. We do that by electing Republicans.
In the space of just a few hundred words, Phillips manages to hit no less than three of the arguments listed above:  the tautological argument (it's a two-party system), the historical argument (third parties have failed in the past) and the spoiler argument (a vote for a third party is a vote for Pelosi).  According to our profile, then, might one not conclude that Phillips is a reactionary historical determinist who is incapable of independent critique of the two-party state?  Moreover, Phillips reveals the difficulty of determining whether the ideologue of the two-party state is motivated by ignorance or malice.  He states outright that no third party "has ever elected a senator, congressman or governor."  Of course, this is patently false.  There have indeed been third party and independent senators, congressmen and governors.  Phillips is either completely ignorant of the matter at hand, namely, US political history, or he is consciously engaged in a dishonest and deceitful effort to rally support for one faction of the ruling political class.

For an example from the other side of the duopoly divide, take this recent article by Robert Parry at Consortium News, entitled "The Teach-the-Dems-a-Lesson' Myth."  Parry writes:
If my e-mail inbox is any indication, many American progressives plan to use the Nov. 2 election as an opportunity to “teach the Democrats a lesson” by either not voting or casting ballots for third parties, even if this contributes to the expected Republican (and Tea Party) landslide.

The thinking seems to be that the loss of the congressional majorities will punish the Democrats for accepting half-measures and compromises on issues from health care and financial reform to job stimulus and war. The Left’s hope apparently is that the chastened Democrats will then shift toward more progressive positions and be more assertive.

However, modern American political history tells us that this strategy never works. After the four key elections in which many progressives abandoned the governing Democrats – in 1968, 1980, 1994 and 2000 – not only did Republicans take U.S. politics further to the right, but the surviving Democrats tacked more to the center and grew more timid.
Parry's piece is thus an extended variation on the historical argument.  However, his choice of historical precedents is rather revealing.  Parry chooses to compare the 2010 elections with those of 1968, 1980, 1994 and 2000.  But only one of the latter is a so-called mid-term election, 1994.  In his discussion of the other three elections, Parry obviously focuses on the dynamics of the presidential race under consideration.  The flaw?  This is not a presidential election year.  Parry is a member of the cult of the executive that views all political antagonism and struggle through the prism of presidential politics.  In a response to Parry's piece, Digby from Hullabaloo provides us with an example of the type of pop-political psychology that is dominant among supporters of the corporate parties.  She argues that the opposition between Republicans and Democrats can be understood as some sort of metaphysical opposition between "the lovers and the fighters":
The two political tribes in America attract different kinds of people. Let's call them the Lovers and the Fighters. (I think you can figure out who's who.)  The majority of people in those tribes tend to react to pain differently. When the fighters feel pain they instinctively hit back. When the lovers feel pain they instinctively withdraw . . .  [etc.] . . .

Parry clearly lays out the case in his piece that this technique of "teaching the Democrats a lesson" has resulted in failure over and over again. They learn the opposite lesson we are seeking to teach them every time. And I guarantee you that once again, the lesson they will learn from this upcoming election will not be that they weren't liberal enough. 
What is striking about the latter passage, however, is how similar Digby's point is to that of Phillips above.  Phillips agreed that it is "absolutely right" to assert that "Republicans are as bad as Democrats," but concluded that "we have no alternative."  Similarly, Digby recognizes that attempts by liberal and left-wing activists to move the Democratic party in their favored direction have "resulted in failure over and over again," and that the Democrats will likely learn the "wrong lesson" once more.  But still, Digby continues to urge support for Democratic candidates. 

The likes of Phillips and Digby are equally incapable of liberating themselves from the ideology of the two-party state and both labor under the delusions propagated and promulgated by that very ideology.  Digby continues to believe that Democrats are the "liberal" party despite all evidence to the contrary, and, she presumes that she is a liberal despite the fact that she supports the Democrats, who, she agrees, are complicit with Republican in "taking US politics further to the right."  On the other hand, Phillips continues to believe that Republicans are the "conservative" party despite all evidence to the contrary, and, he presumes that he is a conservative despite the fact that he supports Republicans, who, he admits, are "just as bad as the Democrats."

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  the Democratic Party is not "liberal" and the Republican Party is not "conservative."  They cannot be.  They are the vehicles of the ruling corporate-political class in its ongoing war against constitutional government and the people of the United States.  If you support the Democratic Party, you are not liberal.  If you support the Republican Party, you are not conservative.  If you support the Democratic or Republican party, you are a reactionary supporter of the reigning corporatist state, and are providing popular cover for the ruling political class.  In other words, you are part of the problem.

Lazy Sunday Blog Roundup

Some recent articles of note in the third party and independent blogosphere:

• Earlier this month, Solomon Kleinsmith profiled the new organization No Labels in a post at Rise of the Center.  Solomon writes:
You may have noticed that there has been a spate of articles about a new political organization that will be launching in December, called No Labels. I’ve actually known about this for a couple months now, as I ran into one of their organizers on Twitter not too long after I launched this blog. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a few of their staff members, and they really do have their heads in the right place.
They haven’t been pushing themselves out to the media yet, waiting for the election cycle to play itself out, but have been doing some quiet, mostly word of mouth, preparations around getting people to their launch (which I will be going to) in New York on December 13th. Along with the Conference of Independents that is putting on in February, this is THE event to be at for moderates and centrist independents that I am aware of in the next year plus.
• In a lengthy article at Zero Party Politics, Gus Bridi sketches a plan for "implementing a zero party system of government in the United States."  Gus writes:
In an earlier article, The Case for a Zero Party System , I dared you to imagine a non-partisan system of government which became the namesake of this blog—Zero Party Politics.  An old idea lying dormant for more than two centuries which was George Washington’s vision of a newly formed America. I asked you to imagine the possibility—the “why.” This article will focus on the practicalities—on the “how.”. . . .

Under the model I propose, political parties would be free to exist, but they would be restricted from participating as an unofficial branch of government (which is really what the Republicans and Democrats have morphed into). As the NRA, ACLU, NOW, AFLCIO, AIPAC and a seemingly infinite array of other organizations and special interest groups who are advancing political agendas exist without being intrinsically linked to government, so can political parties.
• At Politics in the Zeros, Bob Morris begins a discussion of voting reform with a post on score voting and approval voting:
Our two-party duopoly is supported and kept in power by a plurality voting system that makes it difficult for third parties to break through. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are other, far more equitable voting methods. Among them are score voting and approval voting. I plan to explore these methods deeper in future posts, but for now, here’s some useful links. If you have thoughts and ideas on this, please, jump into the discussion.
• Finally, last week at The Think 3 Institute, Sam Wilson considered his local alternative weekly paper's attempt to broaden the discussion revolving around New York's gubernatorial race, but found they fell short by focusing on the Green and giving the Libertarian short shrift, in a post examining the relationship between third parties and independent media.  Interestingly, his conclusion is the premise of the above-mentioned post at Zero Party Politics:
I appreciate that Metroland represents progressive opinion and is usually open to libertarian opinion on cultural issues only, but if there is a necessary debate that Democrats and Republicans aren't offering us, it has to include the full range of conscientious opinion, whether it has hitherto been pigeonholed as "right," "left" or other. I say this as a New Yorker who will most likely vote for Hawkins next month. I agree with the candidate that "having a third significant party in American politics is necessary," but I wouldn't stop there. I'd like to see a fourth, a fifth, and however many more are necessary to represent fully all the reasonable options open to the country. I still believe that a no-party system is the ideal . . . 
Have you recently come across an article of note in the third party and independent blogosphere?  Or perhaps you've written one yourself?  Drop a link in the comments.

NY: Seven Candidates for Governor to Debate on Monday Night

This Monday, Hofstra University on Long Island will be hosting a debate for the seven ballot-qualified candidates in New York's gubernatorial election.  In addition to the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, the forum will include Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Warren Redlich, Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party, Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, and Jimmy McMillan, whose ballot line is entitled Rent is Too Damn High, a popular sentiment in New York City.  Celeste Katz writes the Daily News:
The 90-minute debate starts at 7 p.m. and will be telecast live and commercial-free on News 12 Long Island, News 12 Westchester, News 12 Hudson Valley, News 12 The Bronx, News 12 Brooklyn, Time Warner Cable’s NY1, NY1 Noticias (with Spanish interpretation) and YNN. The debate is also being made available to National Public Radio stations throughout New York State.
New York's establishment press can barely contain its contempt for the fact that the event will include candidates other than those from the corporatist, establishmentarian parties.  From an editorial at the New York Times:
As things now stand, Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor of New York, and Carl Paladino, his Republican opponent, will participate in just a single debate before next month’s election. Well not exactly a debate. More like a group news conference. The event will also feature five fringe candidates . . . With Election Day less than three weeks away, the Cuomo and Paladino camps owe it to New Yorkers to agree to one face-off — even better, more — limited to the only candidates with a chance of winning.
The Wall Street Jounal is equally dismissive of the contest's third party and independent candidates, but at least allows for the possibility that the future is not decided in advance.  From the WSJ:
Messrs. Cuomo and Paladino might be mistaken should they dismiss their opponents' capacity to shape Monday's event. For one thing, several have significantly more campaign and debate experience than Mr. Paladino, a first-time candidate for public office. Mr. Hawkins, the 18-time candidate, previously sparred in a Syracuse mayoral debate, and Mr. Barron is a nine-year councilman.
It is worth noting that the upstate New York press appears to be taking the job of reporting on the debate and the seven candidates for the office much more seriously than their downstate counterparts, considering shades of difference and stark contrasts between the positions of the various candidates, rather than focusing on superficial externalities.  The Ithica Journal writes that the "third party candidates for New York governor add an interesting element to the election."  Buffalo's WGRZ reports:
The seven gubernatorial candidates appearing on the Nov. 2 ballot will have a chance to make their case to voters Monday in a televised debate at Hofstra University on Long Island. But with the crowded stage, the debate has the potential to be jam-packed with platforms, policy positions and stunts.
It should make for an interesting debate.  

The Partisan Pledge of Allegiance

Democratic and Republican politicians are highly defensive creatures when it comes to the question of patriotism.  The form of patriotism bred by the politics of the two-party state is perhaps best demonstrated by the ubiquity of the flag pin on the lapels of our nation's professional politicians.  The flag pin, one assumes, is meant to display a heartfelt allegiance to country, but it also serves a subtle ideological purpose, which is to guard against any attempt to question the political allegiances of those who wear it: "How dare you question my patriotism?!  I'm wearing a flag pin!"  But does not the very superficiality and defensiveness of this gesture itself raise a red flag, so to speak, concerning the political allegiances of the individual in question?  It is likely with good reason that Republicans and Democrats are so defensive when it comes to the question of patriotism.  It is all too obvious where their allegiances lie.

The Republican's Pledge of Allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the flag,
of the Republican Party of America,
and to the corporate agenda for which it stands,
coronation under the dollar, unprincipled,
with liberty and justice forestalled.

The Democrat's Pledge of Allegiance 
I pledge allegiance to the flag,
of the Democratic Party of America,
and to the corporate agenda for which it stands,
coronation under the dollar, unprincipled,
with liberty and justice forestalled.

Independent at All Costs

From Cody Willard's blog at a Wall Street Journal Market Watch network:
Time to vote independent at all costs.   I’ve been saying for three years now that over the next decade, we will see 30% or more of Congress winning on an Independent ticket.   The Republican/Democrat Regime has pushed their corrupt, corporatist, big money policies too far down our throats.  Here’s a discussion from my facebook page yesterday that underscores the anti-Republican and equally anti-Democrat movement.  And no, the Tea Party, which has been overtaken and subverted by the Republican side of the Republican/Democrat Regime doesn’t count as a third party anymore . . .

Once you sign up for a party and become beholden to its platform (and the money behind that platform) you are no longer beholden to your constituents now, are you? You’re either bought and sold by big money and the Republican/Democrat Regime or you are outside of it.

The Third Rail Movement to Derail the Two-Party State

The Liberty Coalition Third Party Alliance is a group that aims to facilitate the formation of a nationwide association whose primary goal is to defeat the Democrat-Republican bipartisan political front.  I've mentioned the group before in a short profile from last April.   From the group's webpage:
The Liberty Coalition is a third party alliance made up of Americans who support Liberty and oppose Big Brother.  We welcome all Americans, third parties and organizations who love Liberty and Constitutional Government. We can agree to disagree on minor, divisive issues while we band together for Freedom!  The Liberty Coalition will function as a Major Political Alliance to run Independent Liberty Candidates who support our Four Points of Unity as their top campaign agendas.  The Democrat and Republican Leadership have abandoned the Constitution and Liberty for bank bailouts and war.  As the Two Party Monster tramples on our civil liberties, Americans must unite and oppose Big Brother Government through the political process.  The Coalition will not supplant existing third parties, organizations, liberty movements or independents. It will empower them by joining forces in a grand cross-party alliance.
The group's founder is A.J. Arias, who has just published a lengthy commentary in a number of outlets calling for the creation of a "Third Rail Movement" in opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government.  Arias writes:

Americans need an “outside the parties” movement to secure the blessings of Liberty and Peace for our families, our children, our land, our income and our food. Big Brother Government has been on the move to grow the Empire and expand our wars – and all we can expect is more tyranny, economic collapse and danger from the unintended consequences of politicians. What is a “third rail”?  I define “third rail” as an issue so controversial or offensive that a civilized person generally avoids bringing it up in conversation. Today, third rail issues which incite great controversy include abortion, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, slave reparations and exit strategies to never-ending wars. But none of these tomfooleries are worthy of our time on a grand-scale.

There is one third rail issue which matters to all of us. It remains taboo in the media while whispered about in the halls of State Legislatures and pubs and homes all across America. America’s most pressing and sorely-needed third rail issue is the total defiance and defeat of the Two-Party System which controls both sides of the aisle and ensures tyranny over us all. We could debate ad nauseam the pet issues which divide us ― but at the end of the day, we will only win token battles while losing the campaign for Freedom. . . .

It is generally controversial to bring up any such maverick movement or rogue player in defiance of the Republican and Democratic parties. The truth is there is nothing “rogue” about a hand-picked, politically-groomed candidate like Sarah Palin or Barack Obama. They are just as genuine or real like the Disney stars and pop singers who fill our airwaves with carefully selected marketing and group psychology.
He concludes the lengthy article with a call to action:

The Liberty Coalition is specifically designed to attract Americans from the Left and the Right who are willing to put minor issues aside in order to fight for the crucial issues facing our tattered and beaten Republic. We have four points of unity on the issues of debt, war, banks and civil liberties.
This coalition will run candidates regardless of registered party affiliation, if any. It will downplay the party for the sake of the political integrity of the candidate. Such candidates must espouse our points of Liberty as their main talking points on the campaign trail. There will be no ambiguity as to where the candidate stands or what they will do once in office.
The Liberty Coalition will not become a separate registered third party; but an alliance of third-party-minded Americans who want to work outside the Two-Party turkey shoot. It will endorse any Libertarian, Progressive, Liberal or Conservative who can agree to primarily promote our Four Points of Unity.
Read the whole thing. 

TPID: Interview with Darcy Richardson (Update)

My three-part interview with Darcy Richardson can now be found in its entirety at Third Party and Independent Daily.  In Part I, Darcy describes his political career and, in the process, provides a short history of the Consumer Party. In Part II, he talks about campaign strategy and describes Farid Khavar's remarkable biography.  And finally, in Part III, Darcy gives a rundown of Khavari's economic proposals for the state of Florida, discusses the difficulties of overcoming mainstream media bias against third party and independent candidates, and gives his thoughts on the general outlook for independent and third party politics this year and beyond.

Poll: Majority Support for Third Party Alternative to Democrats and Republicans

A new survey commissioned by The Hill finds that 54% of likely voters want a viable third party alternative to the Democrats and Republicans:
A majority of likely voters think a viable third party would be good for American politics, according to a new poll of likely voters in 10 key open House districts. . . . Fifty-four percent of respondents in The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll said they’d like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.  That number rose to 67 percent for self-identified independents. But even a plurality in the established parties — 49 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans — said they’d like another choice.
The great irony, of course, is that if the majority of likely voters who want a third party alternative to the Democrats and Republicans actually voted for third party and independent candidates, in more than a few cases those candidates would probably win!  However, the article goes in a different direction, and makes for almost surreal reading.  The reporter, Sean Miller, quotes prominent Democratic pollster Mark Penn and the well-known Republican strategist Mark McKinnon talking about how these "record numbers" indicate an historic opportunity for third party and independent candidates to break the Democratic-Republican lock on elected office in the United States.  But then, rather than follow up on this possibility, Miller instead tracks down a political scientist and a supposed tea party activist who argue that there is no third party or independent political movement in the United States and there never will be.  Is it possible to be an historical determinist of this sort and still believe in the freedom of the will?  Nonetheless, the contradictions of the infiltration strategy supported by tea party activists who have proven incapable of maintaining their political independence are readily apparent in Miller's discussion of the tea party movement.  The infiltrationist doesn't want to be "co-opted" but then endorses a strategy which is predicated upon co-optation by a major party.  Miller writes:
Tea Party activists say their movement is unwilling to be co-opted into the traditional party structure anyway. “Not only no, but hell no,” Judson Phillips, the founder of the group Tea Party Nation, said when asked about the prospect of forming a third party. “Third parties are simply an invitation to disaster,” he said. “All a third party does is split the vote. “I am yet to meet anyone who wants to have the Tea Party as a [political party],” he said — the more appealing prospect is to “take over” the Republican Party.
Obviously, Judson Phillips' experience in the tea party movement is quite limited, as he appears completely unfamiliar with the third party tea party movement.  Thus, it is reasonable to wonder why Miller didn't choose a more knowledgeable source, say, someone who is familiar with the third party tea party movement.  They are not hard to find.  There is an officially recognized third party Tea Party in at least three states, and there are dozens upon dozens of third party and independent tea party candidates for office at all levels of government nationwide, and under a variety of political banners.  In fact, just last night, the Florida Tea Party's candidate for US House in Florida's 8th congressional district, Peggy Dunmire, participated in a debate with Democrat Alan Grayson.  It is noteworthy that the Republican candidate for the office refused to participate in the form.  From the Orlando Sentinel:
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the firebrand Democrat fighting a conservative onslaught to boot him from office, sat next to an empty chair during the campaign's first debate Tuesday night. His Republican opponent, Dan Webster, didn't attend. . . . Grayson shared the stage with Peg Dunmire of the Florida Tea Party; George Metcalfe, an independent; and Steven Gerritzen, a write-in candidate from the Whig Party. Webster cited a scheduling conflict in not attending the debate sponsored by the Central Florida Urban League at the Citrus Bowl's Varsity Club. But his campaign has also made it clear that he won't debate unless the match-up includes only him and Grayson.
So the Republican, Dan Webster, states that he couldn't attend because of a scheduling conflict, but it turns out that even if there were no conflict, he wouldn't have attended anyway because the event included the Tea Party, Independent and Whig Party candidates in the race.  No doubt, the likes of Webster and Phillips above would rather engage in conspiracy theorizing about third party and independent candidates than engage in an exchange of ideas with third party and independent candidates.  Which only goes to show that they are not interested in ideas, but only in maintaining the reigning two-party state and duopoly system of government.  Someone should inform Phillips that the original "Tea Party" was part of a radical movement for political independence and not a movement aimed at providing political cover for the organizational vehicles of the ruling political class.

Pirate Party Endorses at least Six Candidates Nationwide

Following my recent post on the Pirate Party's criticism of the Senate's efforts to create an internet "blacklist," and get its foot in the door on the censorship of online content, a commenter at IPR inquired whether the Pirate Party is endorsing any candidates for office this year.  From what I've been able to determine, the US Pirate Party has endorsed at least two candidates for US House nationwide, while the Pirate Party of Oklahoma has endorsed two candidates for US House and two candidates for state representative in the Sooner State.  Michael Meo is the Pacific Green Party candidate in Oregon's 3rd Congressional District.  Of his political experience, Meo writes in part:
My work in politics is connected with the Pacific Green Party of Oregon.  I've served since 2008 as elected co-chair of the State Co-ordinating Committee of the Party, and since 2009 as Executive Director of its Portland Metro Chapter.  I was nominated and ran for the US House of Representatives 3rd District seat two years ago, and am running for the second time this year.
The US Pirate Party endorsed Meo over the summer.  In their press release announcing the endorsement, we read:
Michael Meo attended the meeting on July, 13, 2010 of the United States Pirate Party. During the meeting, he was asked if he will support our party's platform, including personal privacy, government transparency, and copyright and patent reform. He said, "All of those things I agree with and will support."

He also explained that "Only with open availability of information, such as is only possible with Net Neutrality, can we obtain and enforce the accountability of both public officials and the Green Party."

During the meeting, Meo vehemently insisted that he would take no donations from any committee. In regards to donations from lobbyists, he stated, "Lobbyists are
only allowed to give me information, but not any emolument."

Michael Meo is a refreshing change from the trite political rhetoric that is far too prevalent these days. The Pirate Party asks that its members and supporters in the 3rd Congressional District of Oregon eagerly support this exemplary candidate.
The Pirate Party also appears to have endorsed Stephen Collings, the Libertarian Party candidate for US House in Tennessee's 5th Congressional District.  Collings describes himself as a 26 year old electrical engineer from Nashville, TN.  On his website, he writes:
Look at the last ten years. We've seen power swing all the way from one side of the aisle to the other. No matter which party won, we didn't get any of those things. The federal budget is still unbalanced, and getting worse every year. The financial sector is still behaving in the exact way that caused the original collapse and recession. Massive trade deficits are sucking manufacturing jobs out of the country at a time we need them the most. Health care costs are completely ignored, in favor of ideological struggles over universal coverage. Illegal immigrants and drugs pour into our country, while our guns and money fuel a Mexican civil war. And yet we re-elect the same people, year after year. 
Introducing visitors to his stances on no less than thirty different issues, Collings writes:
I am a member of the Libertarian Party, and have been endorsed by the Pirate Party. However, my campaign platform differs from that of either party on a number of issues. I am always more interested in finding practical solutions than in any ideology.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any confirmation of this endorsement at the Pirate Party's website.  However, it may have gone missing when the site was completely revamped earlier this year.  Emails sent to Renee Schroeder and Brittany Phelps at the USPP regarding Pirate Party endorsements went unanswered as of this writing. 

The Pirate Party of Oklahoma may be the most active state chapter of the USPP in the entire country, judging from its web presence and activity.  Earlier this month, the PPOK announced that it had endorsed four candidates for elected office in the Sooner State: two candidates for US House and two candidates for State Representative.  From the announcement at the party's blog:
After reviewing all the replies we received to our endorsement survey, the Pirate Party of Oklahoma is very happy to announce our support and endorsement of the following candidates running for office in Oklahoma. We urge you to click on each candidates name and review their responses to our survey:
Angelia O’Dell, Independent / Libertarian, US Congress – District 1
Clark Duffe, Independent / Libertarian, US Congress – District 5
Edward Shadid, Independent / Green, State Representative – District 85
Zachary Knight, Independent / Libertarian, State Representative – District 46
We feel very strongly that these candidates best represent the values the Pirate Party is fighting for, and that they will do whatever it takes to protect the privacy rights of all Oklahomans, that they will execute their office with full transparency, that they will fight to make Oklahoma a better democracy, and that they will push for copyright and patent reform. We urge all Oklahomans to take a closer look at these candidates and to consider them as your next elected official come November.
The endorsements appear to mirror the national party's affinity for Green and Libertarian candidates, which is not surprising given the Pirate platform.