NY: The Alliance Party and the Rule of Reaction

A new third party movement appears to be taking root in Schenectady New York to challenge the ruling click in the mayor's office and city council.  The new group is attempting to form a trans-partisan coalition of Democrats, Republicans and Independents under the banner of the Alliance Party. The Times Union reports:
Citing political miscues by the current mayor and the dangers of one-party rule, former Union College President Roger Hull announced plans to seek the city's top elected office in 2011 with a nonpartisan Alliance Party slate. . . . Hull, who retired after leading Union College for 15 years, said he got the idea of running for mayor back last year after listening to fellow residents standing in long lines to challenge their property taxes. From there, he huddled with others and those meetings ultimately gave birth to the Alliance Party. The group of Democrats, Republicans and independents, some of whom stood behind him Thursday, was formed 18 months ago. Hull said they would be recruiting and interviewing prospective candidates for City Council and announcing a full slate in February. . . . Mayor Brian U. Stratton and the entire City Council are Democrats. Four council seats are up for election in November.
Naturally, those interested in maintaining the political status quo have begun to parrot the standard set of talking points against any form of political organization that does not allow itself to be confined by the political straitjacket of the Democrat-Republican two-party state.  The article continues:
Schenectady County GOP Chairman Tom Buchanan lamented that Hull had not reached out to Republican leaders, surmising that a third-party campaign without any crossover backing might prove counterproductive. "It would be a shame because he would be a spoiler in a close election," said Buchanan, noting that Republicans plan run a full slate of candidates

It appears this particular party hack isn't the only person who objects to independently-minded political activism.  Long-time readers of Poli-Tea will surely remember Michael O'Connor of the Rotterdam Windmill, who wrote a number of guest posts here detailing his experience running for town council while petitioning to establish an independent ballot line to run on.  Last month, Michael posted some initial thoughts at the Windmill on the Alliance Party effort and the reaction to it:
. . . . I think it can work.  Not surprisingly, the effort is already the subject of scoffing from several quarters. Once again, the same people who claim to want a different approach that yields results are reluctant to embrace this initiative. The same old arguments of splitting the vote, ulterior motives, or sheer impossibility are being recycled. There even seems to be some jealously from former independent hopefuls that have offered some similar thinking on some subjects! Sorry, but in my mind, no one owns a monopoly on previously expressed ideas that get us better government . . . I’m excited to see this effort unfold . . .
I wonder if there are any new developments on this front.  Anyone from upstate been following this story?  


Samuel Wilson said...

The Times Union is my morning paper, and what struck me reading the Alliance story was the description of the organization as a "nonpartisan party." It isn't necessarily oxymoronic if, as may be the case, the concept of "partisanship," against which so many people protest, is identified as a condition unique to a two-party system.

I also saw a TV report of Hull's press conference. Apparently there have been some disputes between Union College and Schenectady over taxes, and those will likely remain an issue during Hull's campaign. At least there's something for us to watch locally in the new year.

d.eris said...

The point about the "non-partisan party" perfectly underscores the fact that many in the press don't know how to write about or even describe third party and independent political movements that do not conform to the preconceived notions that sustain the duopoly. But it also demonstrates the importance of developing that vocabulary.

It'll be interesting to see how this group develops. Doing a bit of searching, I came across a couple people posting in forums who are already disillusioned with the group, criticizing it for not (as of now) planning to run candidates for offices lower than city council. But there was another COMPLAINING that the Alliance Party does not yet have a professional, fully functioning political operation, and are SEEKING INPUT from folks in the community!

DLW said...

I hope they focus on the use of winner-doesn't-take-all elections like 3-seated Hare Largest Remainder in city gov't if their sincere desire is to end effective single-party rule in NYC.

Instead of having 51 wards, they could have 16 super-wards with 3-seats each and 3 at-large city council seats. And they could require a mayoral candidate to win 50-plus percent of the vote to avoid a runoff where the city council members would pick the next mayor from among two or three finalists. This would keep NYC from being a one-party town...