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Post 3rd Party Debate Summary: Just go watch it!

There was a clear winner tonight in the 3rd party debate but I’ll get to that in a second.

I want to thank the organizers at Free And Equal, including Christina Tobin, who put it together.  In tonight’s debate, there were many subjects that the two major party candidates haven’t covered at all. At this 3rd party debate, those issues were finally heard.  I wasn’t crazy about some of the questions but it’s clear that the audience members had a more libertarian POV and wanted to hear about drug laws.  That’s fine.  I think that question has a place but this year, it really is the economy, stupid. So while I appreciate that several candidates thought we were wasting our time and money locking pot smokers up for 50 years, I really wish there had been more economic questions.

As for the clear winners and losers, Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein did really well.  I was particularly impressed with Anderson.  His proposal for a new constitutional amendment, a New ERA guaranteeing the equality of gender and sexual orientation was the first thing I thought of when I heard the question.  But I was also favorably surprised by Stein’s proposal for a constitutional amendment rolling back Citizens United and asserting that corporations are not persons.

Anderson also made strong points on the abuse of the unitary executive theory, constitutional violations of our civil liberties via the NDAA, Patriot Act and drones and assassinations.  But he also hit on some issues that the other candidates passed by like poverty among children, income inequality, plutocracy and corruption and the negative effects that these problems have on our democracy.

Jill Stein was located more in the environmental side of the issues and she made some good points about students being indentured to their lenders for their student loans.  But I didn’t agree with her that everyone was entitled to a free college education.  I would be happy with an affordable one.  In contrast, Anderson felt that it was also important to encourage students who wanted to pursue a technical education and I wholeheartedly agree.  A good auto mechanic is worth her weight in gold.  The world will always need good plumbers, electricians, hairstylists and chefs.  These people require training and experience too and should be paid well.  Not everyone should go to a four year college right out of high school.  Sometimes, you need a decade to figure out what you really want to do.  And pushing students into college when they aren’t ready or have no interest will only result in diluting the curriculum for other students.  So, I think this was a very good answer.

The other two candidates, Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson, were on the deficit hawk side of the equation.  Goode, in particular, wasn’t that much different than your standard Republican.  His big issue was term limits.  Gary Johnson seemed to love nothing better than himself.  He’s the Ron Paul candidate and seems to have picked up Ron Paul’s supporters.  He stuck pretty close to the facile argument that we need to balance our budget like a household does.  Rocky Anderson was the only candidate who had a firm grasp on Depression economics when he said that while interest rates are low, it is a good idea to spend money to stimulate the economy and he was the only candidate who was prepared to propose a Works Progress Administration program to put the unemployed back to work.

So, I think Anderson won this debate hands down.  He had a comprehensive worldview of justice based on economic, constitutional and egalitarian principles.  It’s a shame that he doesn’t have an opportunity to debate the major party candidates because he’s the only one that actually sounds like a Democrat who is appealing to Democrats.

There’s going to be another 3rd party debate next week.  I recommend that disenfranchised voters watch it.  And I have to note that Larry King did a pretty good job as moderator.  He was a good enforcer.  The format was a bit screwed up at first but I think the questions and answers flowed rather well and no one hogged the microphone overly long.  Kudos to King for pulling that off.

Bottom line after this debate: If you are looking for a third party candidate this year, you have two pretty good choices.  Rocky Anderson could and should be competitive with the major party candidates and Jill Stein has her heart in the right place. She got stronger as the debate progressed, which I found reassuring.  If you find their names on your ballot, you should feel confident that your vote won’t be wasted.  The more votes they get, the better the visibility of important issues that were otherwise drowned out this year.

Last point:  I think it was Gary Johnson who said tonight, “It makes no sense to waste your vote on someone you don’t believe in”.  It was probably one of the only sensible things he said all night.  I agree. The people who are throwing away their votes are the ones who are so scared of the other side winning that they are willing to sacrifice everything they believe in to vote for a guy they don’t really like.

You don’t have to settle.

Third Party Candidate Debate: Liveblog

So, you’ve seen what the other two parties have to offer and you’re not impressed.  Or you’re horrified by the reliance and inevitable abuse of drones in spite of the fact that your elderly relatives think they’re great and will protect us from the terrorists.  Or you’re a liberal Democrat in Exile and you need to put your party in time-out until it gets the message that you’re sick and tired of being run over by the bus.

This year may be the year that a third party has a breakaway.  You never know.  The Pirate Party did pretty well in Germany last year.  So well in fact that the party itself was surprised.  It’s going to be a long hard slog to relevancy and there may be another party out there that has yet to be formed.

But tonight is their night.  This is the liveblog for the Third Party Candidate’s Debate moderated by Larry King.  You can catch it here on C-Span.  There are four candidates participating tonight:

Jill Stein-  The Green Party

Rocky Anderson – The Justice Party

Gary Johnson – The Libertarian Party

Virgil Goode- The Constitution Party

I’m not going to spell out all of their names while I’m commenting so I’m planning to just use the first initial of their last name.

No need for disclaimer tonight.  I am *definitely* voting for one of these people.  I’m just not saying which one.

So, go get yourself a glass of wine or a cup of hot spiced cider and get ready to give these four people the attention they deserve.

Ready, set, go!

Third Party Candidates’ Debate Tonight on C-Span

Hi, Sportsfans.  It looks like we’re covering presidential debates back to back.  Had I known about this one tonight, I would have skipped the drone fest last night.  You can watch the debate on C-Span.  It’s moderated by Larry King.

For those of you who don’t know who’s running, check out this article in the Christian Science Monitor for a run down on the parties that are represented and profiles of each of the candidates.

So, set your bat channels for 9:00pm and meet me back here.  Feel free to join in with the liveblogging.  I’m a little burned out from last night and a busy day today.

Do 3rd party votes count? Of course they do!

Green Party Candidate, Jill Stein

This post was prompted by a question that bellecat left in the last thread:

I’ve seriously thinking for months to give my vote to the Green Party-Jill Stein; after all I’m an environmentalist and for clean energy.
But I keep reading that her votes -since there’s not chance of winning, will go automatically to Obama. It’s that true? What are your thoughts?

 

Justice Party Candidate, Rocky Anderson

There may be some confusion here about the concept of “winner take all” but I’ll get to that in a moment.

I’m not sure who is spreading this misinformation but you can never rule out motivated party operatives (either party) who are paid to write it.

There’s a very good reason why this is misinformation and obviously untrue.  If it were true that a major party could just reassign third party votes to its nominee, then Al Gore would have won the presidency in 2000.  Want a more recent example?  Jon Corzine lost to Chris Christie in 2009 because some of us New Jerseyans voted for Chris Daggett, an independent candidate.  Daggett collected about 5% of the votes (and I’m convinced that those votes came from Democrats, not Republicans).  Nevertheless, Daggett’s votes counted and Christie won.  If they had not, Corzine would have been losing New Jersey’s money today, not MF Global’s.

If the party is recognized by your state and has a ballot position for its candidate, the votes that candidate gets are going to count.  It might be a different story if you are writing in a name of a politician who is from the same party as the party’s official nominee.  We noted in 2008 that this happens in some states.  That’s why Joe Lieberman ran as an Independent Democrat in 2006.  It’s because he couldn’t run against his party’s official nominee on the same party ticket.  If you were planning to write in Hillary’s name for president, that vote might be converted to a vote for the party’s official nominee in some places. So, we recommended that voters check their local and state laws to see what would happen in that case.

Now, is it possible that a third party candidate like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson can win?  Anything is possible but it’s not probable.  Some people will think they’re throwing their votes away and if they want to be chicken shit cowards, there’s nothing you can do to stop them from going along with the crowd, voting for one of the major party candidates and they whining afterwards that there’s never any choice.  But there are good reasons why a third party vote can still make a difference and why more Americans should vote third party instead of acting like two year olds who can’t defer their desire for instant gratification.

1.) The more votes a third party gets, the greater the chances that it will be taken seriously some day in the future. This is what happened to Canada’s New Democratic Party. It came out of virtually nowhere a couple of years ago to displace the Liberals from the second spot in opposition to the Conservatives.  And the Pirate party has made a strong showing in Germany, surprising even the Pirates themselves.  So, the major parties might be dominant now but you never know what’s going to happen a couple of years from now.

2.) Once a third party is firmly established, there’s an opportunity for some of them to run for downticket offices.  The introduction of a third party of significant critical mass in Congress may help break our gridlocked government.  The parties would have to realign themselves somewhat and make deals with other party alternatives.  This is what has happened internally with the Republican party with the introduction of the Tea Party candidates.  The Republican party has found itself having to negotiate and pander to them.  What we need is a similar voting block to the left of the Democrats.  And when I say “left”, I don’t mean commie left or treehugger left.  It just has to be noticeably left of the Democrats as they are now, which is essentially a moderately conservative party.

3.) You CAN influence the current election even if your third party candidate doesn’t win.  Like I pointed out before, Al Gore and Jon Corzine both lost support when their voters turned to third parties.  If there are enough voters choosing this option, the losing party might start taking a cold hard look at what it will take to win those voters back.  Just be sure you send the right message.  If you desert the Democrats out of anger and go to the Republican side or a right of center candidate, the party analysts are going to think you want more conservative politics.  They won’t see it as righteous indignation.  You don’t have to vote for your ideological enemies in order to punish the party you align yourself with most closely.  Vote as close as you can to your ideological allies and your party will eventually buy a clue.

Now, let’s say you vote third party and the Democrat still wins the popular vote in your state.  In most states of the union, the rule to convert the popular vote to the electoral college vote is “winner take all”.  So, if Obama won most of the popular votes in your state, he would take all of the electoral college representatives.  But he wouldn’t be singling out third party votes, he’d be taking the Republican voters’ votes as well.  It must suck to be a Republican in California or New York but that’s how it works.

But what if you live in a swing state or what if the polls remain very close all the way to election day?  If you live in a state that has a third party on the ballot, your vote could count quite a bit.  Because if you siphon away enough popular votes from one of the candidates, you could throw all of the electoral college votes to his opponent.  Some people call this a spoiler.  I think it depends on what your goal is.  I’m not sure that Nader had a legitimate case in 2000 but anyone who doesn’t like the way the Democrats have gone in the past two election cycles should feel free to express their displeasure.  If the Democrats want to avoid this scenario, they had better get on the stick and start courting the potential defectors toot sweet.  I’d be worried if I were the Democrats right now.  It’s not the Republican or independent voters they have to fear.  It is their own base that might defect from them that should be a major concern.

Let your conscience be your guide.  At this point, I don’t think it matters too much who occupies the White House.  It might be an issue if one of the Supreme Court justices retires or dies but not because of Roe v Wade. It’s because the president might appoint a more Wall Street/deregulation friendly justice and at this point, either president could do that.  I’m in favor of electing more Democrats to Congress because that might be helpful.  Then again, the Democratic party tends to suck all of the flavor out of the downticket candidates so, do the best you can.

But I think whoever is telling us that third party votes will be handed over to Obama is conflating the popular vote with the electoral college vote.  Your vote WILL count. Vote strategically.

Re Mitt: No one cares

You left blogospherians who got your marching orders from the DNC to Gore Mitt are wasting your time.  You could be blogging more productively about what Obama has or has not planned for his second term, presuming he gets one.

The more the Democrats get their knickers in a twist over Mitt’s latest ridiculous spewing of nonsense, the angrier I get.  The whole country is falling apart, people are not making money, they’re losing their jobs-still, the economy is growing at a paltry 1.7% and all the Democrats can think of is Mitt’s stupid Olympic comments?  Really?  This is the best the Democrats can do?  Relentless attacks on your opponent only work for the first term.  They are not substitutes for planning or policy.  Does the DNC think we aren’t paying attention?

This is not a game of who can out ridicule.  It’s not a game period. I don’t think that crap is going to work this year.  When I go to the polls my vote is going to the person who pisses me off the least.  Right now, the Democrats and Obama are making my blood boil.

Repeat after me: All the voters want to hear about is how Obama is going to get us back to work and when he is going to arrest the bankers.

I will vote for the candidate who has a plan to move my 401K to a defined benefit pension plan and promises to not touch Social Security.

Short of that, the Mitt Shit is BORING.  Nothing is going to make me vote for him anyway but the longer this nonsense goes on, the more attractive Jill Stein is looking to me and I never thought I’d say that.

Keep it up and I’m going Green.

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