The preliminary Presidential election results, according to CNN are:
The numbers will change somewhat as the final results come in. Nader will probably hit 700,000. McKinney does only slightly better than Green nominee Cobb did in 2004.
I voted for Cynthia McKinney, Green Party candidate. However, I did some, very minor, campaigning for Nader/Gonzalez in the last few weeks. I campaigned for Nader to maximize the progressive vote, I figure the relative strength of the Nader campaign gave it a better chance of picking up wavering voters.
A few of my co-workers talked about their minister’s endorsing McCain from the pulpit. I waited in line for about an hour and a half to vote at Inman Mills Baptist Church. Small town Republicans were motivated to vote, there was no likelihood of the Obama taking SC.
Neither was there much possibility of a progressive breakthrough. My neighbors and co-workers knew Nader was running. Almost everyone thought he was the Green Party candidate. Mentioning McKinney produced confusion, and lecturing at that stage of the game seemed counterproductive.
Of all the minor campaigns, Nader/Gonzalez was the best organized. The McKinney campaign needed one break in this election: Hillary Clinton had to be Democratic nominee. Without being situated as the progressive African-American candidate for President, McKinney’s opportunities to attract attention evaporated. The subsequent disorganization of the campaign did nothing to overcome the already massive hurdles. Maybe Nader hired all the experienced people. Maybe the Greens didn’t have any money to hire anyone. Probably both. Somebody should write a book on the third party campaigns in 2008.
The media’s complete and utter fixation on the Presidential election as a horserace precluded the introduction of alternatives even when the McCain and Obama patently agreed on an issue. The best chance for breaking this lock occurred around the breakout: when Obama and McCain both flew back to Washington to endorse the Bush-Paulson emergency plan and massive public opposition erupted. Well, we got through that and back to talking about Joe the Plumber in the space of about a week. Topics that were never even seriously entertained in the media were the essential sameness of the GOP and Dems on Healthcare – neither plan corrects the basic problem of controlling cost – and the War in Iraq – both major parties support continued U.S. military presence until a stable puppet regime is established.
A national progressive Presidential campaign should simply hire the Nader organization. There aren’t sufficient resources or opportunities to run more than one national independent-progressive campaign. A Nader/McKinney ticket would have made more since than the Green campaign we got. I don’t think this is the end of the Green Party, which has done relatively well in in local elections this time. In Chicago, the Bay Area, Portland, Maine the Greens are the second party vs a Democratic machine. It would be foolish to rebrand that local organization. It might be possible to establish a federative structure at the national level that would preserve the Green Party, but expand the base to include the independent voter’s that nader attracts, independent unions like the United Electrical Workers, state parties like Vermont’s Progressive Party, and progressive organizations like Physicans for a National Health Plan and the Wilderness Society, whatever socialist organizations that would come on board, etc. Most of these organizations either did, or came close to, endorsing Nader in 2000. There’s your ready-made cabinet.
Maybe desirable to expand the party to more mainstream independents like the Independent Party of Minnesota, which at least declined to endorse either McCain or Obama and has a strong left-libertarian element. It was always Nader’s goal to build a reform movement, not an ideological party. Taking in the results of this election, maybe that’s a better use of energy.
Maybe a looser national structure is needed. Nader’s organization is run by the man like a CEO. The Greens appear to be poor at articulating the effective parts of the party as a whole. A federative structure might use the strength of both. Set political reform, national health care, and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as the baseline. Emphasize independence from the two parties, not a whole new party structure. The Greens continue to participate as a national party, the Progressives, Peace and Freedom Party and others as state or regional parties. If the Democrats fail to establish national health care and the war in Iraq is dragging on in 2010, then you may lay the groundwork for a federation to endorse a progressive candidate, using the ballot lines available, and getting new lines in other states in a collective basis – but work on healthcare, withdrawal and political reform first.
A federated political party hasn’t really been tried in the U.S. The Labor parties of Europe were traditionally organized this way. The Conference for Progressive Political Action was an attempt in the Twenties, wrecked by labor leaders too close to the Democrats. If you learn that lesson, the thing could work, and maybe later form the basis for a new political party. A federative national platform for progressive politics could represent solutions to national problems, like single-payer healthcare, and provide a context for local campaigns to work.
Sandlappers can vote for any of the six Presidential candidates with national political campaigns. Any one of these six could be elected president, technically. Each represent national political movements.
For the positions of each candidate, I’ve linked to the website of the candidate and their nominating party. Also, I’ve linked to the information supplied by On The Issues, which seems comprehensive and non-partisan. On The Issues represents positions through short quotes or recorded votes as elected officials. Fuller quotes with citations are available through links. On The Issues has their own grid comparing the candidates which is informative, but hasn’t been updated since the primary season.
|Candidate||Party||2008 Ballot Access||Elected offices held by Party (past and current)||Positions|
|37 states||Montana legislature, local offices||Chuck Baldwin on the issues.|
Party: Free Market.
|44 states + DC.||Alaska, New Hampshire legislatures, local offices||Bob Barr on the issues.|
|50 states + D.C.||Presidential, congressional, legislative, local||John McCain on the issues.|
|31 states + D.C.||Maine, New Jersey, California legislatures, local offices||Cynthia McKinney on the issues.: Green Party 2008 statements: domestic policy, the War and foreign policy.|
|Ralph Nader||Independent: Anti-Corporate.
|46 states + D.C.||Candidate’s public career began in late 1950′s.||Ralph Nader on the issues: Nader Campaign statements and candidate comparisons.|
Party: Liberal-Centrist, Establishment.
|50 states + D.C.||Presidential, congressional, legislative, local||Barack Obama on the issues.|
McClatchy newspapers ran this short article on the reception that minor parties are getting in South Carolina. Journalist John O’Connor spoke with a couple of supporters of Baldwin and Barr, no one else. Not surprising given the conservative reputation of the state.
The LA Times published a column by a former Clinton administration official contending that given the (pre-financial crisis) closeness of the Obama-McCain race, maybe the minor parties and the Nader campaign should be considered, if only as statistical spoilers.
Journalists play-up the “spoiler” angle because its easier to figure. Its lazy and narrowminded reporting to characterize the positive choice of one candidate only in terms of an alleged negative to another.
All four of the national third parties represent widely held political ideals which do not and, I think, cannot find expression in the two major parties. These organizations are not flashes in the pan. The Green Party was founded in the late 1980′s. The Constitution Party was founded as the U.S. Taxpayer’s Party around the same time. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1970. Nader has been a public figure at least since taking on the auto industry in the early 1960′s.
Although the ”major-minors” are not large compared to the organizations of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, they do succeed in maintaining a national political structure and and profile under difficult conditions. There are a plethora of small parties on the left and the right which do not have the reach or the appeal of the four “major-minor” campaigns. The continuing relative strength of the Constitution, Green, Libertarian and Nader campaigns is indicative of real political presence, which would no doubt be stronger if the barriers to participation were not so high. (See the 2008 ballot access chart referenced above for an idea of the difficulties faced by minor parties in simply getting on the ballot. The two major parties enjoy virtually automatic ballot access in most states.)
This will not be a great year for minor parties in the Presidential race; local races should be a different story. Nader may clear 1,000,000 votes, the Obama and Palin campaign have excited the media enough to occlude other personalities. Down the ticket, Greens hope to pick up some legislative seats in Maine, Illinois, , Minnesota, Arkansas and Arizona. Libertarians and Constitution Party candidates are competitive in a few elections.
Success in these local elections seems to depend on running with support of independents of all kinds against the incumbent of a one-party district. This is particularly true for the Greens in Illinois and San Francisco, where Greens run as the second-party agains Democratic machines.
Success at the national level depends on picking up independent voters who perceive the agreement of the two parties on fundamental topics. The economic crisis has opened up a gap for this kind of reallignment.
The Democratic Party leadership, Barack Obama, the GOP leadership and John McCain all endorsed Secretary Paulson’s plan to deal with the credit crisis. But popular sentiment was very much against a quick bailout. In response to emense public pressure, the populist wing of the house GOP abandoned the President and their nominee to vote against the bailout. The progressive House Democrats did the same for their leadership. They didn’t arrive at these decisions independently, but were led into opposition by the upsurge in popular protest against the bailout.
In the short term, the leadership of the two major parties will pull the majority of their Congress people back on board. Certainly this will be less true for the Democrats, who have all the advantages of controling government. The betrayal experienced by the dissenting party supporters won’t dissappear so long as the economy worsens. This will reinforce the trend of “independent” over party identification.
This is an opportunity for the minor parties, at least, and will ease independent work at the local level by making non-major party identification more explicable.