Quote of the Day

From Evan in a guest post at The Hankster:
The projection of each party's opposite is safely ensconced in a contrived, sit-com world that's not controversial to them at all. It's not a matter of “democratic ideals” which separates them, or “what's best for the country” – it's “how do we convince an unwitting public that it not only wants our particular brand of manipulation, but needs it?”

Building Support for Third Party and Independent Alternatives to Democratic-Republican Misrule One Commentary at a Time

I've come across a number of commentaries from across the country today emphasizing the need for alternatives to the mindless reproduction of Democratic-Republican party misrule, and making the case for voting third party and independent. From a letter by Ronald Mullins to the Topeka Capital Journal out of Kansas:

The two party system is broken. The two parties we have allowed ourselves are firmly entrenched in power, and as much as they detest each other, they hate third parties even more. They spend more time and energy attacking the other side than trying to go about making real change. Like parents in a bitter custody battle, they end up doing great harm to the object of their fight.

Our national debt is out of control, our infrastructure is crumbling, our inefficient health care system just received the worst possible fix and our education system lags behind that of other industrialized nations. Try voting for real change, not just endless, empty promises. Vote for a third-party candidate.

In a commentary on two independent candidates for local office in Illinois, Dave Mishur argues that third party and independent candidates bring "a new freshness and vitality" to our politics simply by virtue of entering electoral contests, stating they would do the same to government if elected. He writes:

Even here, in my home state of Illinois, the independent and alternative candidate phenomenon is raising eyebrows and gaining headlines. There are currently two "third-party" challengers; one for the Livingston County Board, where Earl Rients has filed as a write-in candidate; and another concerning the race for County Sheriff, where Lead Detective Tony Childress is fighting to be on the ballot as an Independent. . . .

Both Earl and Tony, and all the rest of the challengers to the two-party stranglehold on our nation's politics, are to be commended for their courage; and are worthy of our support.

That they represent real change is reflected in the fear and loathing with which an Independent candidacy is greeted by the two major parties, literally, like a latter-day snake in the Garden of Eden.

To file as an Independent is to be required to jump through impossible hoops in record time, meanwhile crossing all "T's" and dotting all "I's" while also minding your P's" and "Q's." Indeed, I would say it is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven through the eye of a needle than for an Independent to successfully get his name on the ballot . . .

We wish success to both Tony and Earl, for they will bring a freshness and new vitality to county government if elected. Indeed, merely by running for office, they have already done so.

Finally, at Florida's West Orlando News, Lee Clymer asks if we still need a two party system and makes a strong case for third party and independent opposition to the two-party state:

It is time we as voters take the power from the power brokers. It’s time we tell the two parties they are not the only game in town. It’s time we make it known we are not happy little voters and we will no longer be bullied. There ARE other choices and it is up to the voters to make sure they have their shot. We need to take money out of the equation, and put voting power back in the hands of the people. The only way that will ever become a reality though, is when people educate themselves about the candidate. We must take the voting booth back.

It is up to us to examine all the choices and make informed selections. It is up to us to stand up, no longer being lazy, and do our homework. It is time for us to really look deeply at the ads, the lies, and the propaganda, to really make the choice that means something to us. Only then will the political system start to correct itself.

Not a bad showing for the day.

PA: Calls Mount for Free and Equal Elections in the Keystone State

The purge of third party and independent candidates from the Pennsylvania ballot that took place earlier this month seems to be leading to greater calls for reform in the Keystone State. The undemocratic and anti-republican effort led by Democratic and Republican party activists resulted in the expulsion of all third party and independent candidates for statewide office from the ballot. Numerous media outlets have come out in support of third party and independent political activists who have called for reform of Pennsylvania's ballot access laws. The double standard could not be more clear. The Philadelphia Bulletin writes:
The state required third party candidates for statewide office to obtain more than 19,000 signatures to get on the ballot, while Republican and Democrat candidates had to collect only 2,000 signatures.

Early last week, political activists joined a pair of Libertarian Party candidates recently booted from November’s statewide election ballot to bring attention to what they say are Pennsylvania’s unfair ballot access laws.
The article goes on to report on a bill that woud reform the reigning Democratic-Republican ballot access regime:

A state Senator has introduced a bill he believes will fix the problem. The Voters’ Choice Act would standardize all ballot access requirements regardless of party affiliation.

“We need equal and fair access to the ballot,” said state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, the lead sponsor of the bill. “If I could get it to the floor, who could vote against it?”
Who could vote against it? I could wager a few guesses. At the top of the list you'd likely find the majority of Democratic and Republican lawmakers, precisely those individuals who benefit most from robbing voters of choice on the ballot and eliminating political competition. Nonetheless, there are reports that the bill is gaining traction among individuals within both ruling parties. Though its lead sponsor is a Republican State Senator, word has it that the bill may soon get a boost from the Democratic Party's State Committee. From Ballot Access News:

According to John A. Murphy, a Nader supporter and a vigorous and passionate fighter for ballot access reform in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s State Committee has decided to support SB 252, the ballot access reform bill. Murphy’s source is a close friend who is on that Committee. The Committee will meet on September 24-25 and is expected to endorse the bill. Ballot access activists are welcome to attend the meeting.

SB 252 is based on Delaware’s law. It says that a group that has registration membership of at least one-twentieth of 1% is considered a qualified minor party, and is entitled to nominate by convention. If the bill were law currently, the Libertarian, Green and Constitution Parties would be ballot-qualified. The bill also substantially lowers the number of signatures needed for independent candidates.

That would be a welcome step in the right direction.

The Two-Party Police State: Shocking and Extraordinary Police Violence in Wake of Katrina Neither Out of the Ordinary Nor Surprising

Five years after hurricane Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the map, PBS's Frontline has partnered with Pro Publica and reporters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune to produce a disturbing investigation and expose of the violence perpetrated by police against civilians in the aftermath of the disaster. Pro Publica writes, "After Katrina, New Orleans Police Shot Frequently and Asked Few Questions." From Frontline's introductory article:
Beginning with the death of Henry Glover -- a case that has resulted in the indictment of five New Orleans police officers by a federal grand jury -- Law & Disorder digs deep into a number of incidents in which police shot civilians. It raises new questions about the actions of police officers -- and their command structure -- in the aftermath of the catastrophe.
The most infamous case documents the incident on Danziger Bridge, in which police opened fire on unarmed civilians, shooting six and killing two. Apologists of the state allege that state, city and police officials were reacting to reports of looting, rape and murder, justifying the government's brutality as a reasonable response to the very breakdown of civil order. Though it would have been unconstitutional to do so, Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin stated in a radio interview at the time that he had "called for martial law in New Orleans." Governor Kathleen Blanco, also a Democrat, asserts that she "never declared martial law." However, in a press conference on September 1, 2005, she issued a clear threat to the citizens of New Orleans:
There are hundreds of law enforcement officers [including the National Guard] being deployed into New Orleans today to restore order. Looting and other lawlessness will not be tolerated. I wanted it to be strong and I wanted it to be clear. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will. [Emphasis added.]
See the transcript of the Frontline documentary. Blanco got what she wanted. Some police clearly interpreted these signals as an open order to shoot civilians at will in the interests of "maintaining order," judging from their own statements. Pro Publica reports:
Federal agents are looking into allegations that high-ranking New Orleans police commanders gave orders after Hurricane Katrina authorizing officers to shoot looters.
Though the great majority of reports alleging looting, rape, murder and the breakdown of civil order to which authorities were responding at the time were nothing more than rumors or misunderstandings, there was undoubtedly a complete breakdown of civil order in New Orleans. How else can one describe a situation in which the impulsive and hysterical reactions of state, city and local authorities to sensationalist, media-driven rumor and innuendo literally led to brutal beatings and cold blooded killings of innocent or unarmed civilians by agents of the government?

Perhaps what is most disturbing about these incidents is that they really cannot be considered isolated phenomena, a result of the exceptional chaos and confusion that came in the wake of a natural disaster. In a report on the indictment of police involved in the Danziger Bridge incident from July, we read:
Four New Orleans police officers could face the death penalty after being accused of gunning down two unarmed people in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina . . . Five former New Orleans police officers already have pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shootings . . . Prosecutors say officers fabricated witness statements, falsified reports and planted a gun in an attempt to make it appear the shootings were justified. It was a shocking example of the violence and confusion that followed the deadly hurricane.
Yet, shocking examples of such "violence and confusion" are not hard to come by in the policing regimes that have been established by Democratic-Republican party government in the United States. Consider a few examples from headlines just this month:
• Earlier this month, at a raucous block party in New York City, four police officers released a barrage of almost fifty bullets in an incident of "contagious shooting," that apparently killed one person and wounded six others, including police officers and bystanders.

• Earlier this week, as the Daily News reports, "an NYPD cop whose wife called 911 for help against a gang of thugs says he was brutally beaten by baton-wielding fellow officers who stormed his Queens home."

• In Seattle, four police officers were recently caught on video beating a mentally disabled teenager in a jaywalking incident.

• The city of Atlanta will be forced to pay nearly $5 million to the family of a 92 year old woman who was "killed in a botched 2006 drug raid . . . [the woman] was shot to death by narcotics officers conducting a "no-knock" warrant. Investigators later determined the raid was based on falsified paperwork stating that illegal drugs were present in the home." [Emphasis added.]

In Florida, "Victor Steen, a 17-year-old high school senior from West Pensacola, Florida, was murdered while riding a bicycle . . . last October 3rd. His murderer, Jerald Ard, ran him down in an automobile . . . Ard . . . veered into the wrong lane and even drove onto a sidewalk in pursuit of Victor, repeatedly attempting to shoot the teenager with a lethal weapon. After he ran down the youngster, Ard tried to cover up his crime by planting a gun on the victim. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ard is a police officer. Nor should it be considered unusual that he will suffer no significant punishment for his act of vehicular homicide."
Falsifying reports, fabricating statements, planting evidence, the beating and murder of civilians on the street and in their homes: shocking examples of violence perpetrated against the people of the United States by agents of their government on what is basically a daily basis. This is the inevitable result of the policing regime that has been established by Democratic-Republican party government in the United States. The culture of lawlessness, lack of accountability, and non-transparency we are so familiar with from elected Democrats and Republicans infects virtually every aspect of our society and government. Tough on crime? Or just plain criminal?

Turnout in Alaska's Closed GOP Senate Primary Demonstrates that the Two-Party State is Incapable of Representing the People of the United States

As you may or may not know, or even care, in the Alaskan Republican primary for US Senate, challenger Joe Miller is maintaining a slight lead over incumbent Lisa Murkowski. The surprising result has led to speculation that Murkowski may pursue a third party or independent run if Miller in fact wins the GOP's nomination. According to comments at IPR, she could run as a write-in candidate, or obtain the Libertarian nomination if she got a nod from the party and their current candidate were to step aside, which is within the realm of possibility, if reports at Hot Air are to be believed.

Needless to say, self-described conservatives who have yet to declare their independence from the Republican faction of the reigning two-party state are none-too-pleased with this development. The Lonely Conservative, for instance, writes:
What is it with these politicians? . . . This is what is so disgusting about politicians. They’re so into themselves they’d rather screw up an election than just go away. This is different than the debacle that was the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. In that case party bosses chose the most liberal candidate they could find in Dede Scozzafava. The voters had no say in the matter. Primaries are another story. When the voters of a party decide on a candidate the loser should walk away. Those that decide to run as third party candidates really show that they’re in it for themselves, and not the people they say they want to represent. Just look at Charlie Crist in Florida, he didn’t even give Republican voters a chance to tell him to go home.
Reading this, I couldn't help but be reminded of a point that has been made on a number of occasions by Sam Wilson at The Think 3 Institute. Unfortunately, I can't find a specific post at the moment, but the argument goes something like this: if a candidate for public office truly believes she is the best person for the job, shouldn't she have the courage of her convictions and let the voters have their say in the general election rather than allow her course of action to be dictated by a faction of a faction of some party's loyalists?

Far be it from me to come to the defense of Lisa Murkowski. From all appearances she seems to be nothing more than yet another self-entitled specimen of the Democratic-Republican hereditary ruling class. Shortly after being elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, Murkowski was appointed to the US Senate seat she currently holds by her father, who vacated the position when he was elected governor in 2002, whereupon he appointed his daughter to the office in a display of crass nepotism that is all-too-common in US politics today.

Nonetheless, the comment above by the Lonely Conservative perfectly illustrates a delusion common to partisans of the ruling parties that Democratic and Republican primary voters somehow express the will of the people, rather than the delusions of Democratic and Republican primary voters, who comprise a small and dwindling portion of the American electorate.

According to current unofficial results from the Alaska Board of Elections, Joe Miller leads Murkowski by 1668 votes: Miller has 47,027 votes to Murkowski's 45,359. As of April 3, 2010, there were 481,036 registered voters in the state of Alaska: 74,578 Democrats, 124,875 Republicans, 30,184 registered with a minor party and a whopping 251,391 unaffiliated independent voters. (See Pollster.com for totals.) In other words, just under 26% of registered voters in the state of Alaska are Republicans. Miller is currently the projected winner of the GOP primary having garnered the support of only 37.7% of registered Republicans, and the votes of just 9.7% of registered voters!

Because Alaska has closed primaries, 356,161 registered voters were prohibited from expressing their preference in the GOP primary. Thus 74% of registered voters were not allowed to cast a ballot in the race between Miller and Murkowski! Arguably, the only way for someone like Murkowski to demonstrate that she is "in it for the people she says she wants to represent" is for her to run an independent or third party campaign in the general election. It is time we stop pretending that the Democrat-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government is capable of representing the people of the United States.

Candidates Resort to Increasingly Drastic Measures in Fight for Open Debates

There are a variety of means by which the Democratic and Republican parties ensure the reproduction of their joint misrule despite the fact that dwindling numbers of Americans are willing to support them in their efforts. Double standards governing access to the ballot for Democrats and Republicans, on the one hand, and everyone else on the other, are aimed at limiting voter choice in local, state and federal elections. Petition challenges and ballot purges are a matter of course when those double standards are overcome. But third party and independent candidates who successfully navigate even that ordeal then face the challenge of breaking through the establishmentarian filters of the corporate media, polling organizations and debate organizers.

Absurdly, debate organizers will justify the exclusion of third party and independent candidates on the basis of the assertion that they have not demonstrated significant support in public opinion surveys. But polling organizations often exclude those candidates from their surveys on the basis of the claim that they are not covered in the mainstream media, while the mainstream media who ignore those candidates justify their exclusion by arguing that they have no support in the polls. Though some have achieved major successes in forcing inclusive debates this year, many third party and independent candidates for office are resorting to increasingly drastic measures in their fight to be included in forums and debates:
• In April an Independent candidate for governor of Vermont was arrested for disorderly conduct for disrupting a debate from which he had been excluded.

• In June, Libertarian candidate for US Senate in Florida, Alex Snitker, crashed an event from which he had been excluded by the Florida Press Association.

• Earlier this month, supporters of Arkansas Senate candidates John Gray of the Green Party and Independent Trevor Drown protested outside an event organized by a taxpayer funded organization which refused to allow them to participate.

• This week, the Socialist and Constitution Party candidates for US Senate in Ohio launched a petition drive to ensure that debates and forums will be open and inclusive.

• Finally, the Democratic and Libertarian candidates for US House in CA-52 recently ended a hunger strike aiming to pressure the incumbent Republican to agree to debate his rivals face to face.
It is not difficult to discern the reasons why Democrats and Republicans, with the help of their allies in the corporate media and polling organizations, would seek to avoid defending their positions in a public debate with their third party and independent rivals. It would be all too clear that there are superior alternatives to the reproduction of Democratic-Republican misrule.

Cordoba House as Political Rorschach Test

Somehow, I have thus far avoided comment on the ongoing controversy surrounding Park 51 in New York City, better known as the Cordoba Initiative or the "Ground Zero Mosque." From the beginning, it seemed to me nothing more than yet another one of the distractions that passes for substance among Republicans and Democrats in an election year. In this week's column at CAIVN, I argue that the project has become a political Rorschach test, and consider how it has begun to affect New York's gubernatorial race:
Depending on whom you ask, the controversy surrounding Park 51 in downtown Manhattan, widely termed the ‘Ground Zero Mosque,’ is either a distraction or one of the most important issues facing the people of the United States, a matter of defending religious liberty or fighting supremacist triumphalism, defending rights or respecting sensibilities, Islamophobia or anti-fascism, and so on. . . .

at least one distinct side-benefit has resulted from the debate. It has demonstrated the absurdity of the demagoguery that so often passes for mainstream political discourse among Democrats and Republicans. For instance, some who are against the project have argued that if it is allowed to proceed, the terrorists will have won, while others who defend the project have argued that if the center is not built, the terrorists will have won, leaving us with the ridiculous conclusion that no matter what happens with respect to the Cordoba House, the terrorists will have won . . .

the American public appears to have conflicting, if not contradictory, views on the issues involved . . . Paradoxically, then, 62% agree that the group has a right to build the center, but only 34% agree they should be allowed to build it . . .

[In the New York gubernatorial race, Republican] Rick Lazio finds himself on the same side of the issue as Carl Paladino, a rival Republican and self-described Tea Party candidate, who has produced an ad entitled “I’ll stop the mosque,” as well as Kristin Davis, who is, ironically, running on a permissive platform under the banner of the Anti-Prohibition Party. On the other side of the debate, the Green and Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidates have issued forceful statements against Lazio and Paladino’s opposition to the center, defending the project on constitutional grounds.
Read the whole thing.

Truth is the First Casualty of Politics: If Communists Support the Democrats and Nazis Support Republicans, Where Does that Leave the Rest of Us?

If it is true, as per the old maxim, that war is politics carried out by other means, then it stands to reason that the converse is also true, namely, that politics is war carried out by other means. Even a superficial glance at the language of our politics would bear this out. Intra-party disputes are framed as "civil wars," while inter-party debates are framed as "trading shots," where one side "blasts" the other, and the other "fires back." From this state of affairs we can deduce any number of trivial corollaries, among them that the first casualty of politics is the truth. As an example, take a non-troversy being stoked by Georgia's Paulding Pundit. The headline there reads: "Operations Director of GA Libertarian Party Equates [GOP gubernatorial candidate] Nathan Deal and GA GOP to White Supremacists." (Link via Red Phillips at IPR.) What follows, however, is nothing more than a screenshot of an offhand comment the Libertarian, Brett Bittner, posted on his Facebook page. Bittner had written:
"Don’t worry, GA GOP… @VoteDeal is in good company. http://bit.ly/dqNI4v"
The link takes you to a story I had posted at IPR excerpting a Los Angeles Times report on a raucous rally and demonstration against illegal immigration held by members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. Paulding Pundit comments on Bittner's statement:
So in essence, Nathan Deal and everyone associated with the Georgia Republican Party are white supremacist Naizs because they’re against illegal immigration. Needless to say, Mr. Bittner’s post is extremely offensive and inappropriate. I encourage my fellow Republican friends, who are entertaining the thought of supporting Chuck Donovan, John Monds, or any of the other state-wide Libertarian candidate, to do their homework and thoroughly research the Libertarian Party and its leadership. I trust that you’ll find out what I’ve discovered about the Libertarian Party, they’re led by a bunch of crazy nuts.
Obviously, all sides in this spat are engaged in nothing but "sleazy drive-by innuendo," as Red Phillips put in our discussion in the comments at IPR. That is almost the very definition of politics under the conditions of Democrat-Republican party government. But there is a difference that is worth pointing out here. The Libertarian Bittner's ironic innuendo has the virtue of being true: both the Nazi group and Nathan Deal are against illegal immigration. Indeed, Nathan Deal is a vocal and active opponent of illegal immigration. As a member of the House of Representatives, the Democrat-turned-Republican introduced a bill to rework the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in order to eliminate birthright citizenship. However, from the statement that the white supremacists and the Deal campaign are on the same side of the given issue, it simply does not follow that "Nathan Deal and everyone associated with the Georgia Republican Party are white supremacist Naizs because they’re against illegal immigration." That is just a false inference drawn by the Republican pundit, who then attributes it to the Libertarian, calling it "offensive and inappropriate," even though the statement he made does not even imply it.

We know that logic and truth have little value to the ideologues of the Democratic and Republican parties, except insofar as they can be manipulated to score political points in the interests of maintaining the ruling political class and implementing their common corporatist agenda. But why go to such lengths to take offense at an offhand comment made by Bittner on a Facebook page? It must have stung. Or maybe not. Clearly, Georgia Republicans fear that rational voters will cast their ballots for Libertarians rather than reproduce the corruption and misrule so many Americans have come to expect from the stooges of the Republican and Democratic parties. They are right to be worried. Libertarian gubernatorial candidate John Monds is currently polling 5%, but the Republican Deal only has a 4% advantage over the Democrat.

Final Note: Though it does not follow from Bittner's comment that "Nathan Deal and everyone associated with the Georgia Republican Party are white supremacist Naizs because they’re against illegal immigration," in the present context it is worth noting that white supremacists and Nazis do support Nathan Deal because he is against illegal immigration. If, as I've documented before, the Communist Party and Communist Party front groups support the Democrats, does not a "fair and balanced" assessment of the major parties demand investigation of Nazi support for Republicans? A search of the web forum Stormfront demonstrates longtime support for Nathan Deal in the white supremacist and Nazi community. A post from 2005 carries an "Urgent" announcement regarding the bill introduced by Deal mentioned above, urging readers to pressure their representatives to support it or else:
A bill has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Nathan Deal, a Georgia Republican; this bill would deny US citizenship to the offspring of illegals and other non-citizen parents. Call , e-mail, fax, your elected officials as this is a very important piece of legislation. Tancredo, Rorbacher and others have already pledged support; let you Reps. know that if they oppose this bill there will be consequences!
Others in the forum voiced support, saying, for instance: "This sounds good to me! This would get rid of the "Anchor baby" that all Illegal aliens try to foist on us as "They are Americans" Baloney!" Deal's bill has received fairly regular attention, and an almost wholly positive reception, at Stormfront over the years. From 2007: "I like this mans thinking. Anchor babies must go to. I concider them illegal as well." More recently, Deal received an "Amen" for advocating that Georgia adopt an immigration policy modeled on Arizona's controversial new law. Contributors to Stormfront have also greatly appreciated Nathan Deal's efforts to obtain a copy of Barack Obama's birth certificate. From January 2009:
"Nathan Deal says he’ll ask for Barack Obama’s birth certificate . . . U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, now a Republican candidate for governor, this morning declared himself in sympathy with those questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A. . . . This ought to be good!"
Update: At SWGA Politics, Jeff cuts down professional partisan Republican Erick Erickson, who has also criticized Bittner on this issue:

Last night, elected Republican City Councilman Erick Erickson took issue with appointed LP-Georgia Operations Director Brett Bittner’s Facebook post saying that Republican Governor candidate Nathan Deal was “in good company” with Neo-Nazis.

This is the same Erick Erickson who once tied another group of Neo-Nazis, StormFront, around Ron Paul’s neck. (This is also the same Erick Erickson who, as GriftDrift likes to point out, once called a sitting Supreme Court Justice a “goat f*cking child molester“.) . . .

What is going on here is simple: Erick is seeking to discredit the Libertarian Party of Georgia because he sees that it is entirely possible that John Monds could get 20% of the vote on November 2, thereby earning LP-Ga the same ballot access that is currently enjoyed by only the Democrats and Republicans in Georgia. Erick doesn’t want that to happen, because it would threaten his Party’s deathgrip on this State – even though Republicans over the last 8 years have shown themselves to be little better than the Democrats before them or their National counterparts when it comes to fiscal conservatism and individual liberty.

Australia: Independents and Greens Hold Balance of Power Following Election

Following the election held over the weekend, Independents and Greens now hold the "balance of power" in the Australian parliament, after voters delivered a stinging rebuke to the major parties in the country's two-party system. From the AFP:
Up to four independents and a new Greens MP looked set to hold the balance of power after Saturday's election ended in a hung parliament with neither Gillard's centre-left Labor Party nor the Liberal/Nationals winning a majority.

As the two-party system that has dominated Australian politics for more than a century rocks precariously, Gillard and conservative rival Abbott were making urgent overtures to the usually ignored minor representatives.

The Australian's Greens gains have already been documented at Wikipedia:
the Green vote in the Senate rose clear above ten percent, with Australian Broadcasting Corporation provisional results[26] giving the Greens a Senate seat in every state, which would bring the Greens to a total of nine Senators.[27] The Greens also successfully won their first House of Representatives seat at a general election, the seat of Melbourne with candidate Adam Bandt, who will be a crossbencher in the first hung parliament since the 1940 federal election.[28]
The results are widely viewed as a potential death knell for the country's two-party system, echoing comments by Independent Bob Katter, who easily retained his seat in the Parliament. The New Zealand Herald writes:
If there was one overwhelming message for Australia's major parties from Saturday's election, it was that the days of the two-party system were over, Bob Katter told Channel 10 after easily holding his vast north Queensland seat. . . .

He is one of five men being courted as kingmakers following the failure of either Labor or the Coalition to win a majority in the House of Representatives, and thus government.

In the Senate, the Greens will hold the balance of power and the keys to legislation from the Lower House. But it is in the House that the election has hit the major parties hardest.

The next prime minister will be the one who can convince three - probably four - independents, and the Greens first federal MP, to support their bid for minority government.

The Australian election comes on the heels of the UK general election held in May, in which neither major party won an outright majority, also resulting in a so-called "hung parliament" and the empowerment of minor party leader Nick Clegg.

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems: Obama Forgets He's Corporate, Plus a Comical Note on Subliminal Anti-Duopolist Messaging in a Mainstream URL

The White House's official blog has headlined this week's video address with a most ironic slogan. To wit: "No Corporate Takeover of Our Democracy." The editorial staff at the White House Press Office took a more descriptive route with their headline, writing: "President Obama Challenges Politicians Benefiting from Citizens United Ruling to Defend Corporate Influence in Our Elections." For a moment though, when I first saw the former headline at Memeorandum, I thought it might have been from The Onion. But it appeared legitimate, so I pondered the possibility that the White House's website had been hacked by The Yes Men, and finally wondered whether it was not a parody of a memorable quote from Steve Carell's character on The Office. In the episode on Sexual Harassment, Michael Scott forgets that he's "corporate" and hires a lawyer to protect himself against potential complaints filed by the company's corporate attorney:
I am so used to being the bad boy. I am so used to fighting corporate that I forget that I am corporate, upper management. They hooked me up with an attorney to protect me. You can’t be too careful about what you say. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Mo' money, mo' problems indeed. For the president, however, money hasn't been much of a problem. That's why the headline from the blog was just so funny. The president apparently believes that forcing those who fund political advertisements to identify themselves in the advertisement will somehow "stop the corporate takeover of our democracy," which simply doesn't follow. For instance, corporate contributions to candidates for elected office are all publicly disclosed, yet the president himself was elected in 2008. Among the top twenty contributors to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign we find Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, whose PACs, members, owners or employees and their families contributed roughly $3 million dollars to the future president. Moreover, no less than ten of the top twenty contributors to John McCain's campaign were international banksters and their families and friends, who together provided the Republican with well over 2 million reasons to support them in their time of need.

As we all know, their investments paid off in spades. In the Bush administration's bailout of the global banking mafia, which received significant and vocal bipartisan support from candidates Obama and McCain, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley ended up on the receiving end of over 70 billion dollars, that we know of, from the US taxpayer. And the president thinks transparency in television advertising will stop the corporate takeover of our democracy? At least we'd know who's funding so much of the garbage that passes for programming on commercial television.

Comical note: while searching for stories documenting the bankster bailout numbers, I happened to catch a telling anti-duopolist obscenity that had been sneaked into the URL for the story linked above under "Goldman Sachs." The link directs you to an article in the UK's Daily Mail from October 30th, 2008. Notice the fragment identifier following the hash tag (#) at the end of the web address. I kid you not, copy and paste it yourself:


Political Competition and the Ideology of the Two-Party State

The common assertion that the two-party system fosters political competition reveals the perfectly Orwellian character of the ideology that underpins the two-party state. Among the ideologues of the Democratic and Republican parties, the two-party system is equated with political competition as such. Consider but one revealing statement by Dick Morris, professional mouthpiece of the corporatist political establishment, commenting on politics in the state of Illinois: "It's very important that you get a two party system in Illinois, because competition is essential to making politics work." As we know, in reality the two-party system is based on the outright suppression and repression of any and all political competition.

As I noted earlier this week, Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania succeeded in purging the November ballot of numerous third party and independent candidates for state-wide office, including Greens, Libertarians and at least one Tea Party candidate. At the Libya Hill Report, Regan Straley writes that, "Un-American Republican and Democratic cowards steal your right to vote for the candidate of your choice . . . again! Pennsylvania's electoral system is a national disgrace that demands your immediate attention." He continues, noting the double standard instituted by Democratic and Republican legislators that has allowed their party machines to hijack the political process:
Principled third-party and independent political candidates for statewide office in Pennsylvania were required this year to obtain 19,082 petition signatures from registered voters in order to appear on November's ballot alongside the soulless Republicrat sell-outs who are allowed on with a mere 2,000 signatures.
For Democratic and Republican political strategists alike, the ideal electoral contest is one in which the incumbent faces no challengers whatsoever. Taken to its logical extreme, current Democratic-Republican political practice would likely result in the abolition of elections altogether. It is no coincidence that the great majority of elections in the United States are non-competitive, as most offices are considered "safe seats" for the professional Democratic or Republican politicians who keep those seats warm for the corporatist interests that have bought and paid for them.

However, when Democrats and Republicans give up on maintaining the charade of political competition between the ruling parties, there is a strategic opening for third party and independent candidates who seek to offer voters a choice which they are so often denied. In Virginia's 6th congressional district, incumbent Republican Bob Goodlatte will face no Democratic opponent this November, yet he will nonetheless face two challengers, Libertarian Stuart Bain and Independent/Whig Jeff Vanke. In one of the few polls tracking this race, Goodlatte leads his rivals by a wide margin, to say the least, garnering 71% support to Vanke's 12% and Bain's 7%. Yet, because there is no Democrat in the contest, Vanke and Bain have a golden opportunity to obtain media access, shape coverage of the race, and gain traction among the electorate.

Bain is running on a Libertarian platform of smaller government and expanded liberty, and has begun holding virtual town hall forums to raise money for his campaign. Vanke, on the other hand, has been endorsed by the Modern Whig Party as well as the Independent Green Party of Virginia, and is running on an explicitly moderate, centrist platform. Solomon Kleinsmith recently profiled Vanke at Rise of the Center, writing:
I had the pleasure of talking to Jeff by email, and liked a lot of what I heard. Vanke has a bio a campaign manager would die to have in a candidate. He literally does work as a budget consultant, has a PHd in Political History and even published a book recently, by the name of “Europeanism and European Union”. In other words, the guy has chops. On the personal side – another ideal list of attributes. He’s actually an Eagle Scout, PTA volunteer, sings in his church choir and is a Sunday school teacher. Much like any other independent, his campaign’s biggest problem is lack of infrastructure. . . .

All the necessary pieces are there for a potentially winning upstart campaign. What remains is Jeff hitting the canvas every day, knocking on doors and making phone calls… raising money and pressing the flesh at events. He polled at just 12% a few weeks ago, so he’s got quite the mountain to climb in a short time.
With the devolution of the two-party system into what is effectively a one-party, corporatist state, the choice between a Democrat and a Republican is no choice at all. Thus the choice before voters is clear: perpetuation of joint misrule by the Democratic and Republican parties, or political freedom and independence.

On the Radar in the Third Party and Independent Blogosphere

Some new discoveries in the third party and independent blogosphere:

The Skeptical Eye is a politically independent left-leaning group blog with anarchist and libertarian tendencies, judging from its blogroll at least. Motto: "Opposing the Machinery of Mass Conformity."

Rise of the Center, maintained by Solomon Kleinsmith, is a moderate, centrist political blog with tons of links as well as original reporting and commentary. From the "about" page: "A cursory view of support of the two party system over the last few decades shows a steady move away from the two parties . . . But it wasn’t until more recently that those who consider themselves unrepresented, or underrepresented, began to coalesce into a political force in some areas."

The Pragmatic Center is another moderate, centrist political hub, maintained by Nicholas Goebel and based in Michigan. In addition to its forum, it also has a social networking component, and follows world, national and local news items. Goebel writes: "More than 60% of Americans are either independents or moderates. Yet our political process is dominated by the extremes of both political parties and their special interests. ThePragmaticCenter.com gives a voice to us, the Rational Majority who demands collaboration rather than confrontation, moderation rather than extremism, and pragmatism rather than irrational adherence to outdated ideologies."

Free From Editors has been online for a few years, but I first came across it in the last few weeks. Jim from L-Town mixes personal blogging with political commentary and reporting from a libertarian-leaning perspective informed by a desire for greater political choice within the context of the ruling two-party state.

Political Thermopylae demands: "Give the partisans nothing! But take from them everything!" Unfortunately, the the site is not regularly updated, but you'll see a lot of familiar names from the third party and independent blogosphere in the blogroll.

If you've recently come across a new third party or independent blog or site, or if you maintain one yourself, drop a link in the comments.

PA: Democrat-Republican Ballot Purge Succeeds, Voters Robbed of Choice, Major Party Electoral Charade to Proceed in November

This week in Pennsylvania, third party and independent candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and US Senate were effectively purged from the ballot following a concerted effort by Democrats and Republicans to ensure that voters in the Keystone State will not be presented with a reasonable choice on their November ballots. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

John Krupa, whose claim to be the tea-party candidate for governor was questioned by other leaders of the movement, filed papers withdrawing from the race midway through a review of his petition signatures.

"He didn't have the requisite number," Krupa's lawyer, David Montgomery of Pittsburgh, acknowledged Monday after lawyers for the Lock Haven tavern owner and his challengers spent the weekend sifting through his petitions.

Mel Packer, the Green Party nominee for the Senate, said he decided to withdraw because he lacked enough surplus signatures to defend his petitions against a concerted challenge by Democratic nominee Joe Sestak, a member of the House who beat incumbent Arlen Specter in the May primary. Packer said he did not have a lawyer or the money or time to represent himself.

"I can't afford that," Packer, a physician's assistant in the emergency room of a Pittsburgh hospital, said in a telephone interview. "I'm 65 years old. I'm still working. I've got kids in college."

Pennsylvania law requires third-party and independent candidates for governor and Senate to collect 19,082 voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Major party candidates need only 2,000 signatures, but they must win often-contested statewide primaries to be nominated for the general election. [Emphasis added.]

A number of Libertarian candidates for statewide office have also withdrawn from their respective races. From Ballot Access News:

The Pennsylvania Libertarian Party’s candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and U.S. Senator withdrew today, rather than face the risks of a challenge to their statewide petition. They were told that if they didn’t withdraw, and the challenge showed that they don’t have enough signatures, their costs would be between $92,000 and $106,000. . . . This means that Pennsylvania will be one of five states with no minor party or independent candidates on the statewide ballot. The others are Alabama, Washington (because of the operation of the top-two system), Kentucky, and New Mexico.

As noted by Newsroom Magazine, in a report on financial reform:

America no longer has a two party system — for what exists today is a one party system at war with itself. What’s best for the nation is rarely reason for any legislation or governmental action in the atmosphere of open warfare and derision. At it’s worst, America’s divided one-party political system delivers governance, legislation and sometimes judicial review by means of actions, laws and decisions framed more by the relative strength of political advocates than public need.

It's Never too Early to Speculate about Future Presidential Elections. Or is it?

For my column at CAIVN this week, I consider some recent speculation regarding the potential third party or independent presidential candidacies of Ron Paul and Michael Bloomberg in 2012. Some excerpts:

Though the 2010 midterm elections have not yet even taken place, political commentators and observers are already speculating about possibilities and prospects for the 2012 presidential election . . .

In recent weeks, there has been some amount of speculation regarding the political ambitions of Republican Congressman Ron Paul and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. . . .

This month, Public Policy Polling found that in a hypothetical three-way race between Barack Obama, Republican Mit Romney and Ron Paul as an Independent or third party candidate, Paul checked in with 13% support. . . .

Though he continually denies that he has any plans to run for president, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cannot even eat a cheesesteak in Philadelphia without provoking speculation regarding his presidential ambitions. . . .

Yet, Bloomberg and Paul are arguably beyond their political prime. In 2012, Bloomberg will be 70 years old. Paul will be 77. Depending on the results of this year’s elections, the likes of Paul and Bloomberg may also be eclipsed by any number of third party and Independent candidates for Congress, Senate or Governor. . . .

For this reason alone, it should be considered too early to reasonably speculate about the 2012 presidential election.

Personally, I am looking forward to the presidential elections of 2040. If, over the next thirty years, the US electorate proves incapable of retiring the majority of sitting legislators and executives, and if, over the same period, the free market proves incapable of retiring the majority of television talking heads we are forced to tolerate, it is a good bet that by 2040 time itself will have retired them for us.

Read the whole thing, or check out some of the other commentary and columns at the site.

On the Contradictory and Reactionary Character of Lesser-Evilism, Primary Ideological Support for the Reproduction of the Failed Two-Party State

Via Memeorandum, Allahpundit at Hotair relays poll findings from Gallup and Rasmussen showing that the GOP is leading the Democratic Party on the so-called "generic ballot" by historic margins. Rasmussen reports:
Republican candidates have jumped out to a record-setting 12-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot . . . A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely Voters would vote for their district's Republican congressional candidate, while 36% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.
Allahpundit notes, however, that the most astonishing facet of this disparity is that Republicans are actually less popular than Democrats. He writes:
When Democrats tell people that voters hate the GOP as much as they hate them, they’re not blowing smoke. That’s basically true. In fact, in many polls, the Republican Party’s favorables are still lower than the Democrats’. And even so: Biggest generic ballot lead … in history. That’s how popular Hopenchange is.
This contradiction has left numerous Democratic Party ideologues, such as Ezra Klein, "bemused and confused," and unable to account for the apparent mixed messages emanating from the electorate. Republican Party ideologues, on the other hand, are of course less interested in accounting for the contradiction than they are in capitalizing upon it. Arguably, however, Republicans and Democrats are simply incapable of understanding the problem because they are the problem; and their inability to understand the problem is symptomatic of the problem. Democrats and Republicans cannot relate to the two-party system and state in a critical register because it is the primary condition for the reproduction of their joint misrule.

The contradiction at work here is a function of duopoly ideology. How can it be that a majority of the electorate prefer the less favorable option between the Democrats and Republicans? In other words, how can the less popular faction of the two-party state be the more popular faction of the two-party state? The WSJ/NBC poll released last week may provide at least a partial answer. When asked if they would prefer a Democrat-controlled Congress or a Republican-controlled Congress to result from this year's elections, 42% of respondents opted in favor of the Republicans while 43% favored Democrats and 15% were unsure. But the follow-up question is key in the current context. The survey then asked those who favored a Democrat-controlled Congress if they did so because they actually support the policies of the president and his party or because they oppose the policies of the GOP and its candidates. Similarly, those who favored a Republican-controlled Congress were asked if they did so because they support the policies and candidates of the Republican Party or because they oppose the policies of the Democratic Party and its candidates. Significantly, the poll did not ask whether respondents supported the idea of a Congress which was not controlled by either of the major parties, say, if enough third party and independent candidates were elected to ensure that neither Democrats nor Republicans could hijack the legislative process.

Nevertheless, of those who favored a Democrat-controlled Congress, 48% stated that they actually support Democratic candidates and policies, while 47% said they really just oppose the Republican Party and its candidates. On the other hand, of those who preferred a Republican-controlled Congress, only 35% said they support the Republican Party and its candidates, while a whopping 59% said they actually only oppose Democratic policies and candidates.

In other words, a majority of those who support a Democrat or Republican controlled Congress do not actually support a Democrat or Republican controlled Congress, rather they oppose a Republican or Democrat controlled Congress. Simply put, the two-party system produces a literally reactionary majority, which is willing to support the major party it favors less because it opposes the other major party more. This is the contradictory and paradoxical ideology of lesser evilism as articulated via public opinion polling.

As I've written before on the reactionary character of Democrat-Republican party politics, political independence begins with the recognition that we are not free insofar as we are subjugated by the politics of the two-party state and the duopoly system of government. Political autonomy requires affirmation of a tertium quid.

Update: Sam responds at The Think 3 Institute, asking: "Fear Drives the Two-Party System. Does Complacency Threaten the Republic?"

Are African Americans Abandoning the Major Parties in Favor of Superior Third Party and Independent Alternatives? Shouldn't We All?

Earlier this month, I relayed a report stating that African Americans in Illinois were supporting third party or independent candidates in relatively high numbers, with over 20% favoring an alternative to the corporatist shills of the Democratic and Republican parties. Unfortunately, it was impossible to determine just who those individuals were supporting because the polling outfit, Rasmussen, did not inquire as to which third party and independent candidates respondents favored, but rather subsumed everyone aside from the Democrat and Republican under the category "some other candidate." A similar situation may well be developing in Georgia. Jack Wagner writes at the Free Independent Sun:
I noticed something quite disturbing when studying recent polling for elections around the country. Rasmussen Reports will include upwards of 6 or 7 candidates in the Democrat and Republican Primaries, sometimes with candidates that only receive 1% of the vote, yet when it comes to the General Election they will only include the two Democrat-Republican candidates despite there being sometime upwards of 3 or 4 other candidates from Third Party Nominations or Independent Nominations. This case is most present and most dangerous in a particular Governor’s election in Georgia, where the African-American Libertarian Candidate John Monds is left out of General Election polls despite having won 33.4% in a statewide election in 2008, and apparently the most likely winner of the 15- 20% of unaccounted votes in Rasmussen Polls.
Though it likely stakes out familiar territory to Poli-Tea readers, the piece is well worth a read, and goes on to document the pollster's bias against third party candidates in Georgia, South Carolina and Illinois. Nonetheless, there seems to be significant movement afoot within the African American community away from the Democrats and in the direction of rational alternatives to Democrat-Republican party government. A column by Frederick Alexander Meade published at Akiit.com over the weekend argues that African Americans should support third party candidates for office:

In the face of a two party political system, in which neither entity holds any significant measure of deference for a socially ailing African-American body, the construction of a party in which the group may call its own, may serve as the only reasonable approach, by which this population may be afforded any degree of leverage.

The function of a third party, in its greatest capacity, would serve to conceivably eclipse the position of the Democratic Party in its perceived station, as institution of choice, for the socially dispossessed and of those seemingly concerned with the welfare of the masses.

A less speculative and perhaps more pragmatic conception of such a party, would maintain it function – in the short term – to erode a segment of the black Democratic voting base. An evolvement the Democrats can ill afford to experience, as the black vote often serves as the critical force this band relies upon, in securing electoral triumphs over political rivals in highly contested races.

A viable third party would not have to siphon twenty to thirty percent of the black Democratic voting base. Rather a ten to fifteen percent decline in this group’s support of the party would function to compromise its political strength in numerous municipalities as well as on the national level.

In politically disarming the Democratic Party, in regard to its African-American voting arsenal, a direct message would then be sent to this institution. The message delivered to this purported liberal body would boldly declare: black Americans have evolved into an electoral entity determined to observe its agenda honored and subsequently pursued by any political institution claiming to represent the interests of the group . . .

In pursuing this course of action, enough members of the African-American public must overcome the fear of perceived social loss the group may sustain in the short run, as the Republican Party would manifestly assume power within some domains presently controlled by its prime opposition.

In overcoming this fear, the African-American public must remain assured, its collective plight essentially experiences little nuance irrespective of the party that assumes office, as the masses have invariably suffered under the rule of all governing bodies.

This line of argument may be reasonably generalized, and would likely hold for the large majority of the American populace. Who is served by the tyranny of the two-party state, by Democrat-Republican party government as such, aside from the self-serving and self-entitled elites in the ruling criminal political class?

A Vote of No Confidence in the American Political Class

From Ron Brownstein at the National Journal:

The severity of these swings testifies to the distance separating many voters from either party. When asked to rate the performance of congressional leaders in a SHRM/National Journal Congressional Connection poll last month, only about one-third of adults gave positive marks to either Republicans or Democrats. Strikingly, nearly three-tenths said they disapproved of the job performance of both Republican and Democratic leaders. That number rose to 41 percent among independents.

In that survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly half of independents gave both Republican and Democratic leaders poor marks on placing the national interest ahead of their own political interests. Similarly, in a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, a comparable 43 percent of independents (and 36 percent of all voters) said they lacked confidence that President Obama, congressional Republicans, or congressional Democrats can make the right decisions for the country's future. All of these findings represent a striking no-confidence vote in the nation's political class.

Brownstein believes this collapse in confidence could create an opening for a third party or independent presidential candidate in 2012:

Although the practical barriers to a third-party candidate remain substantial, these findings document a substantial audience that might consider a non-politician with a problem-solver pedigree, especially if the economy remains weak.
It is worth noting, however, where the emphasis is placed in this article. The piece is entitled "A Corrosive Collapse in Confidence." Taking this at face value, one would have to conclude that it is entirely backwards insofar as it suggests the public's lack of confidence in institutions both public and private is the "corrosive" agent at work in the body politic. Placing the horse back in front of the cart, we would have to say that the undeniable degeneracy and bankruptcy of those institutions is eroding the public's confidence in them.

The Democratic-Republican Conspiracy of Dunces

From this week's column at CAIVN:

If a group of people told you that elected officials, influential civic groups, the mainstream media, and independent polling organizations were all engaged in a systematic effort to effectively silence them by ensuring that the wider public was not exposed to their views and opinions, you might conclude that this was nothing but an elaborate conspiracy theory. Yet, this is the reality faced by third party and independent candidates for elected office all across the United States.
The piece goes on to document legal challenges filed against third party and independent candidates in Pennsylvania, the exclusion of Green and Independent candidates from a debate being held by a taxpayer funded group in Arkansas, the failure of mainstream media outlets to cover the Green Party candidate for governor of Massachusetts, and one Libertarian's struggle to overcome the duopolist bias of pollsters in Florida. It concludes:

The apparent nonchalance with which media and pollsters dismiss third party and Independent candidates stands in stark contrast to the seriousness of the Democratic and Republican parties in their efforts to keep them off the ballot. Any candidate who is not beholden to the Democratic and Republican party machines is a threat to the Democratic-Republican monopoly on elected office.

Given that there are already more Independents than there are Democrats and Republicans in over ten states, they are right to be afraid.

Read the whole thing.

Poll: Independent Plurality Nears Majority, 24% Support a Third Party Tea Party

Via Free From Editors, this month's WSJ/NBC poll finds that independents increasingly outnumber Democrats and Republicans. 42% of those polled identified themselves as independents, while only 30% were willing to call themselves Democrats and a paltry 21% identified with the Republican Party. Of those who identified as independents, 16% called themselves "strict independents," while 14% admitted to leaning Republican and 12% confessed to leaning toward the Democrats. Among partisans of the legacy parties, only 20% called themselves "strong Democrats" and 13% called themselves "strong Republicans."

The poll also surveyed opinion on everything from protecting the environment, to dealing with global warming and energy policy, oversight of Wall Street and banks, dealing with natural disasters, health care, social security, dealing with the economy, taxes, moral values, etc. The survey inquired whether respondents thought Democrats or Republicans would do a better job dealing with the given issue, whether they thought both parties would do about the same, or whether neither of the ruling parties is up to the task. Roughly 20% of those polled are essentially convinced that neither Democrats nor Republicans are capable of dealing with any of the most pressing political issues facing the United States.

In other findings, 24% of respondents voiced support for a third party Tea Party; only 33% have a positive view of the Democratic Party; and 24% have a positive view of the Republican Party.

The Democratic-Republican Bipartisan Front Against Voter Choice and Rational Alternatives to the Tyranny of the Two-Party State

From the Philadelphia Enquirer:
It's one thing for an independent or third-party candidate to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania. It's another for the candidate to stay there. Powers that be in the Republican and Democratic Parties were behind legal challenges in Commonwealth Court on Monday against the ballot eligibility of several candidates for governor and Congress.

The Republican State Committee said it had done "research" for a trio of citizens who challenged the election petitions of three Libertarian Party contenders - Marakay Rogers, running for governor; Douglas M. Jamison, for the Senate; and Kat Valleley, for lieutenant governor.

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Joe Sestak challenged a Green Party candidate who has attempted to join the race with Republican Pat Toomey. Challenges also were filed against minor candidates in two area races for the House.

Approval Voting in the News: Libertarian Candidate for Governor of Colorado, "We All Win by Implementing Approval Voting"

In recent weeks there seems to have been an uptick in discussion and advocacy of approval voting in both mainstream news sources and the political blogosphere:
• Late last month, Anthony Gottlieb profiled a number of alternative voting methods in an article for The New Yorker, comparing and contrasting them with plurality voting, and devoting a significant portion of the piece to a discussion of approval voting. The article sparked a number of interesting discussions in the blogosphere.

• Just a few days ago, in Vermont's Rutland Herald, reader Ed Weissman argued that the people of the United States would be better served by the major parties if approval voting were used in the primary election process.

• And, finally, the Libertarian candidate for governor of Colorado, Jaimes Brown, recently garnered positive coverage in a number of mainstream press outlets for his advocacy of approval voting.
Brown is the first candidate for any elected office whom I've heard advocate the implementation of approval voting in the United States. I contacted him via email last week to ask a few questions about approval voting and he kindly obliged. The entire interview can be read at Third Party and Independent Daily. An excerpt:
TPID: Do you have plans to continue this advocacy beyond the gubernatorial campaign? What is your advice to others who would like to see the implementation of approval voting?
Brown: Absolutely, it's not about me, it's about liberty. I find it offensive that the two parties have spoiled the whole system and they have the audacity to label anyone with a fresh approach as "spoilers"! My advice would be to continue to point out to all political parties, independents, and citizens that we all win by implementing approval voting. Democrats would have been better off with it in 2000, Republicans would be better off with it in the 2010 Colorado Governor election. The people are better off with it because we will get better representation. Isn't that what a Republic is all about?
For more information on approval voting, head over to Citizens for Approval Voting and the Center for Range Voting, and be sure to check out Least of All Evils, a highly informative blog devoted to approval and range voting.

The United Police States of America: the Criminalization of Everyday Life in the USA

For Democrats and Republicans there is no problem that can't be solved by empowering agents of government – whether they be police, prosecutors, politicians, inspectors, garden variety bureaucrats etc. – to wield disproportionate force against the people of the United States under the color of law. If war is politics carried out by other means, and politics is war carried out by other means, then the Democratic and Republican parties are undoubtedly engaged in an asymmetrical war against the people of the United States, and they have been for some time. No matter which of the ruling parties finds itself in the majority, constitutional rights, liberties and the rule of law are trampled and eroded with equal zeal and without compunction.

In a series of reports entitled "Rough Justice in America," those anti-government extremists at The Economist detail the effects the Democratic-Republican police state has had on the people of the United States over the last thirty years, noting that "never before in the civilized world have so many people been locked up for so little," and bluntly stating that "America locks up too many people, some for acts that should not even be criminal." The Heritage Foundation has come up with a clever euphemism for this state of affairs: they call it "overcriminalization." From Overcriminalized:

“Overcriminalization” describes the trend in America – and particularly in Congress – to use the criminal law to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making proper use of civil penalties), and coerce Americans into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives. Criminal law is supposed to be used to redress only that conduct which society thinks deserving of the greatest punishment and moral sanction.

But as a result of rampant overcriminalization, trivial conduct is now often punished as a crime. Many criminal laws make it possible for the government to convict a person even if he acted without criminal intent (i.e., mens rea). Sentences have skyrocketed, particularly at the federal level.

Like most Americans you probably commit at least three felonies a day in the course of your everyday life, not to mention infractions of the myriad local and state laws to be found in every corner of the union. The Democratic and Republican parties, with the help of their deluded supporters, are literally turning this country into a police state and prison colony. Of course, not all Americans are subject to the laws of crime and punishment. Few, however, are lucky enough to be accorded the deference shown to members of the ruling criminal class.

Act Against ACTA

Everyone who uses the internet should be concerned about ACTA, the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, currently being negotiated in secret by the United States, Japan, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Singapore. In a lengthy report at the Mises Institute, Gennady Stolyarov explains some of the reasons why:

A clandestine international treaty is currently being negotiated among parties including the United States, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union, Japan, Singapore, and Morocco. It can justly be called the greatest threat of our time to the advancement of human civilization. Considering the magnitude of the other abuses of power pervading the world today, this might seem an exaggeration, but the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) contravenes every principle of civilized society, both in its content and in the nature of the proceedings leading to its creation.

It threatens to undo the accomplishments of the great Internet revolution and to thrust humankind back to a time when individuals had no public voice and no countervailing power against politically privileged mercantilist institutions. ACTA tramples on essential rights that have achieved even mainstream recognition: innocence until one is proven guilty, due process, personal privacy, and fair use of published content. Moreover, because of its designation as a trade agreement, ACTA could be imposed on the people of the United States by the president, without even a vote of Congress. [Emphasis added.]

Read the whole thing. Though ACTA could be "fast-tracked" by the president, there should be little doubt whether a secret international agreement which blatantly curtails fundamental rights, liberties and freedoms would easily gain the support of a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the Congress.

IL: Poll Finds 11% Support for Third Party Candidate, Fails to Ask who that Candidate Is

If I told you that, in a certain gubernatorial race, 11% of voters were planning on voting for someone other than the corporatist shills representing the Democratic and Republican parties, and, if I added that this voting bloc was composed of 23% of African Americans, 19% of moderates, and 14% of Democrats, you'd probably wonder just who that candidate is. If your curiosity got the best of you, you might ask me; you might even do your own research on the matter; indeed, you could go so far as to ask those very people themselves. If you did, you probably don't work for Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen's most recent poll gauging opinion on Illinois' gubernatorial race finds that 11% of voters prefer a third party or independent candidate over Republican Bill Brady and incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn:
The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Brady picking up 44% of the vote, while Quinn earns support from 37%. Eleven percent (11%) prefer a different candidate, and nine percent (9%) are undecided.
As is usual for Rasmussen, however, the polling outfit chose not to query those independent thinkers as to which candidate they do indeed support, apparently satisfied that "some other candidate" suffices. At the Examiner, Dennis Brennan reports on the raw numbers:
While 88 percent of Republicans are supporting Brady, only sixty one percent of Democrats are supporting Quinn at this time. More troubling according to the poll is that 23 percent of African American voters say that they will vote for a third party candidate. An amazing 23 percent of African-Americans, 19 percent of moderates, 14 percent of Democrats and women and 10 percent of liberals chose "Some other candidate" in the poll.
Brennan reports that the Quinn campaign is worried about the impact Democrat-turned-independent Scott Lee Cohen could have on their chances of success. Yet, from Rasmussen's numbers, there is no way of telling whether Cohen is indeed garnering any amount of support from the people of Illinois. One might just as well postulate that Green Party candidate Rich Whitney has effectively broken through the 10% barrier. In June, Public Policy Polling (.pdf) found that Whitney was garnering about 9% support in the race. Or Cohen and Whitney could be competing for the votes of one 1 out of 5 African Americans and moderates and 1 out of 10 liberals. Or maybe these folks have come to support Libertarian Lex Green or Constitution Party candidate Michael White, or some combination of all of them. With Rasmussen as our guide we'll never know.

One wonders just how much support "some other candidate" would have to poll for Rasmussen to consider asking its respondents who exactly this other candidate is. 20%? 30%? 50%?

Study: 2010 Elections Likely to Result in Strongest Showing Among Third Party and Independent Candidates in over 75 Years

A lengthy article at Smart Politics reports that this year we are likely to witness the strongest showing by third party and independent candidates for office since the 1930's. Some excerpts:
A Smart Politics analysis of nearly 1,800 gubernatorial elections since 1900 finds that third party candidates in 2010 will rival those of 1994 for the strongest showing over the past 75 years since the Great Depression. . . .

If these third party candidates sustain their support through the November 2010 election, it will mark only the second time since the Great Depression that six gubernatorial candidates will have won at least 10 percent of the vote in an election cycle (the other being 1994). . . .

The 1990s in particular brought a resurgence to third parties in gubernatorial campaigns that had not been seen since before World War II. From 1990 to 1999, five third party candidates won gubernatorial contests - the second largest number per decade since the beginning of the 20th century. . . .

From 1910 to 1919, nearly one quarter of gubernatorial elections had at least one third party candidate garner 10 percent or more of the vote.
Read the whole thing. The article provides an overview of the strongest third party and independent gubernatorial candidates this year, a comparison of the 2010 election outlook with that of 1994, and a short historical sketch of successful or prominent third party candidates from the first half of the twentieth century.

CA: Top Two Primary Faces First Legal Challenge

From my most recent column at the California Independent Voter Network:

The first lawsuit challenging the legality of California’s newly-approved “top two” open primary system was brought forward last week in San Francisco Superior Court. The suit seeks to block implementation of Proposition 14 on the grounds that it disenfranchises voters and discriminates against minor party candidates.

The top two open primary system was passed into law in June when voters approved Prop 14. The measure was backed by Governor Schwarzenegger and Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, and opposed by Democratic and Republican party leaders as well as a large coalition of third party groups, including the Green and Libertarian parties. In the end, Prop 14 was supported by 54% of voters, though only 33% of eligible voters cast a ballot in the election, according to the Office of the Secretary of State.

The Top Two Act effectively does away with the traditional party primary. Instead, all candidates for a given office, except that of President, would be listed on the same primary ballot and the top two vote-getters in each primary race, irrespective of party, would go on to compete in the general election.

The lawsuit, however, does not challenge Proposition 14 as such, but rather provisions within Senate Bill 6. SB6 was passed by the state legislature in early 2009 as part of the compromise that resulted in the passage of the state’s budget. SB6 was authored by Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado who cast the decisive vote in the budget impasse. The bill provides the legal scaffolding for the implementation of the top two open primary.

The lawsuit argues that SB6 is unconstitutional because, if implemented, candidates who “identify with a ‘minor’ party will be censored and discriminated against on the ballot,” and because votes cast for any “write-in candidate in the general election will not be counted.”

Read the whole thing.

Approval Voting and Proportional Representation

At Independent Political Report, Ross Levin relays a lengthy and informative article from The New Yorker by Anthony Gottlieb that provides a short history of voting methods and systems in the modern world. The piece compares and contrasts plurality, winner-take-all voting with proportional representation, instant-runoff voting and approval voting. An excerpt dealing with approval and range voting from the end of the article:

Range and approval voting deal neatly with the problem of vote-splitting: if a voter likes Nader best, and would rather have Gore than Bush, he or she can approve Nader and Gore but not Bush. Above all, their advocates say, both schemes give voters more options, and would elect the candidate with the most over-all support, rather than the one preferred by the largest minority. Both can be modified to deliver forms of proportional representation.

The fact that they escape Arrow’s proof, though, doesn’t mean that approval and range voting have no hidden kinks or paradoxes. Whether such ideas can work depends on how people use them. If enough people are carelessly generous with their approval votes, for example, there could be some nasty surprises. In an unlikely set of circumstances, the candidate who is the favorite of more than half the voters could lose. Parties in an approval election might spend less time attacking their opponents, in order to pick up positive ratings from rivals’ supporters, and critics worry that it would favor bland politicians who don’t stand for anything much. Defenders insist that such a strategy would backfire in subsequent elections, if not before, and the case of Ronald Reagan suggests that broad appeal and strong views aren’t mutually exclusive . . .

Mathematics can suggest what approaches are worth trying, but it can’t reveal what will suit a particular place, and best deliver what we want from a democratic voting system: to create a government that feels legitimate to people—to reconcile people to being governed, and give them reason to feel that, win or lose (especially lose), the game is fair. The novelty of range and approval voting in modern politics is so great that we can’t know how they’ll work out without running experiments.

While instant-runoff voting is likely the most well known alternative voting method, polities that have implemented it have already begun struggling with its limitations, thus underscoring the need for voting system experimentation at the state and local level. Dale Sheldon-Hess writes at Least of All Evils:

Dr. David Schultz . . . has posted his report for the Minneapolis Elections Department on the use of ranked choice voting [PDF] (more commonly known as instant runoff voting or IRV), as it was used in that city's recent elections. Schultz was (and apparently still is) a strong supporter of the use of IRV, having previously served as a board member for FairVote Minnesota, a fact he plainly states in his paper's Conflict of Interest heading. And this refreshing honesty continues throughout the document... which probably isn't good news for FairVote's or Dr. Schultz's objectives.

First on the chopping block is the claim that IRV increases turnout . . . We also find that the well-advertised claim of decreased election costs turned out to not be true . . . But my "favorite" part of the report is the section on Spoiled Ballots and Voter Error. Schultz begins by assuring us that "[T]he worst fears were not realized." By which he means IRV only quadrupled the ballot-spoilage rate, from 1.0% to 4.1%. . . . The true measure of an electoral system's quality is how well it can handle highly-contested and close-to-call elections. The predominant examples suggests that IRV would handle such elections poorly; but the Minneapolis data provides no real information for or against that proposition.
Read the whole thing. Dale is, of course, a strong supporter of approval voting and range voting; he's also has recently been involved in an on-going debate with David L. Wetzell, an advocate of strategic election reform and "American Proportional Representation." David sums up his position in the debate at A New Kind of Third Party. I don't know if David is acquainted with
Pete Healey of the Proportional Representation Party, but if not, they should consider getting in contact. In comments to the above-mentioned post at IPR, Pete wrote:
“One size fits all” [voting systems] is a poor guide. Our concept for New York isn’t a complete abolition of single-member districts and isn’t fully proportional (at least at first). It’s a transitional system that would have the state legislature elected half from single-member districts and half by party-line proportional vote. Each voter enters the booth with two votes, one for his/her local rep and the other for the party he/she wishes to represent him/her in the legislature.