Another piece of mine that appeared in Turnstyle News.
In this election, like most election years, the voices of third party candidates are rarely heard. Most of the attention is focused on the two major parties running. However, considering the public’s deep dissatisfaction with the political system and Obama’s continuation of corporatist policies, third party candidates need to be heard.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released in mid-January, 84 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress’ job performance — the lowest in forty years of polling. Sixty-five percent say they “disapprove strongly”. A February 2-5 Gallup poll showed only 22 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country. More than two-thirds of Americans feel that the economy favors a “small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country”, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll.
Obama’s presidency has been a continuation of the oligarchic status quo. On foreign policy and national security, his policies are as draconian and militaristic as Bush’s. Obama continues human rights abuses like indefinite detention (even against U.S. citizens), targeted killings (also against U.S. citizens), and rendition. He also expanded U.S. wars through drone strikes and special operations (with the CIA staying in Iraq and Afghanistan).
On domestic policies, Obama is no better. He refused to prosecute bankers for crashing the economy, did very little to regulate Wall Street by not reinstating Glass-Steagall, and his mortgage settlement does far more to help the banks and not struggling homeowners. Moreover, Obama advanced free-trade policies that benefit multinational corporations at the expense of workers, pushed for more austerity and tax cuts for corporations. Whether one votes Democrat or Republican, the same elite interests win, while everyday people get the short end of the stick.
This is why Rocky Anderson is running for president as a third party candidate. Rocky Anderson, the former two-term Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City, represents the Justice Party, a party he recently formed. The party describes itself as “a grassroots, broad-based, real political alternative to the corporate controlled Democratic and Republican parties”. It is based on the principle of “justice for all” and “not just for the wealthiest Americans and corporations”.
While the Justice Party has yet to create a coherent platform, it advocates many great progressive policies. They include: an end to the wars, shutting down all overseas bases, drastically cutting military spending, robust green jobs and infrastructure programs, universal healthcare, free education for all, tax increases on rich people and corporations, an end to the Keystone pipeline, aggressive action to halt climate change and protect the environment, prosecution of Wall Street bankers, protection of civil liberties, and support for immigrant rights and LGBT rights. The Justice Party also supports an end to corporate personhood and campaign finance reform to get money out of politics, which Rocky Anderson identifies as the root of our political problems.
Rocky Anderson is not the only third party candidate running for president. Peta Lindsay, a 27-year-old African-American female activist, is running for president on the Party for Socialism and Liberation ticket. Famous actress and comedienne Roseanne Barr is running for the Green Party’s presidential nomination. The non-partisan non-profit organization Americans Elect is using the internet get people to define the political debate, nominate their own candidates, and put them on the ballot. There are several other third party candidates, as well.
Even though third parties rarely win elections, they advance important ideas that are ignored by the two parties. Many important policies that we take for granted, such as the eight-hour workday and Social Security, were initially advanced by third parties and finally incorporated into our political system. In order for progressive change to occur, the corporatist, militarist two-party duopoly must be challenged.
Originally appeared in Turnstyle News on February 24, 2012.
March 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm
“Even though third parties rarely win elections, they advance important ideas that are ignored by the two parties.” Maybe, but more fundamentally, I think they serve the role of bringing people back into the same game that will always be against them: Capitalist Electoral Politics. Third parties are like a pressure release valve for the discontent of the people that might otherwise boil over into righteous rebellion against the system. What do you think of that analysis?
March 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm
That might be a fair description of the Dem Party, but if “third” parties and independent campaigns filled that “release valve” role, the monoparty wouldn’t be trying so hard to suppress them.
If you don’t give them any votes to count, you have no right to complain that they’re not being counted. Likewise, if you don’t try to build an alternative, you have no right to complain that they suppress it with a terrible set of election laws.
March 3, 2012 at 9:45 am
I don’t understand why Rocky Anderson thought it made sense to start a new party rather than seek the Green Party’s nomination.