2008 Voter Guide: Six National Campaigns, Six Presidential Candidates on the SC Ballot

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
Chuck Baldwin Constitution
Party
Right-wing.
Religious.
Populist.
37 states Montana legislature, local offices Chuck Baldwin on the issues.
Bob Barr Libertarian
Party
Free Market.
Personal
Responsibility.
Conservative.
44 states + DC. Alaska, New Hampshire legislatures, local offices Bob Barr on the issues.
John McCain Republican
Party
Conservative
-Centerist, Establishment.
50 states + D.C. Presidential, congressional, legislative, local John McCain on the issues.
Cynthia McKinney Green
Party
Environmental.
Activist.
Progressive.
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 IndependentAnti-Corporate.
Progressive.
46 states + D.C. Candidate’s public career began in late 1950’s. Ralph Nader on the issues:  Nader Campaign statements and candidate comparisons.
Barack Obama Democratic
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.

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Posted on November 1, 2008, in Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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