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Question: Are they empowerment or spoilers?, The role of third-party candidates CPNN article: Green Party Runs Peace Candidate in the Connecticut Third District
Posted: Dec. 04 2002,12:54

The controversy over third party candidates as "spoilers" could be solved if we made some reforms to our election system, such as instant runoff voting and multi-seat districts. The Seattle Times recently ran a review of Steven Hill's book, "Fixing Elections".

It explains how elections could be run in a more inclusive manner, so that minority viewpoints get fairer representation.

Edited by CPNN Administrator on Dec. 31 2002,12:20
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Posted: Dec. 10 2002,14:51

I agree that we need election reform in this country. However, I think we need to be realistic about the current system. Campaign strategies must be tactical and relative. For example, the Working Families Party in New York and Connecticut runs candidates against democrats in order to pressure them away from Republican-like positions. In a race where there is a popular Democrat that will surely win, the Working Families candidate can demonstrate that there is a large progressive voting bloc. In a race that is a close tie between a Democrat and an ubber-conservative "kill 'em all" Republican, however, running a third party condidate would be ridiculous. Third Party, pressure politics are an effective way to stir the two-party beast. But, each election should be carfeully weighed so that you don't end up helping the opposition.
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: Dec. 31 2002,12:14

Comment by Drew from Bowdoin in August, 2002

It is clear to me that voting based upon the lesser of two evils is merely insuring that those two evils will continue to be in power. A vote for a third party candidate is a vote to break the cycle of corrupt power eating away at the collective psyche of the American soul. Saying that you aren't going to vote for a third party because they won't win is merely a self fulfilling prophecy. Do not degrade yourself or your vote in such a manner. If you want to vote for a Republican or a Democrat because you believe in their platform, that is your business. Do not continue to lie to yourself that you are doing the world a favor by voting for "the lesser of two evils." It is such a vote that serves as the pillar upon which the evil resides.
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wretched hyena
Posted: Feb. 06 2003,14:50

Such fools are we who choose lawyers as our leaders.

My main complaint about the Green Party is that the name indicates a one issue party. Perhaps a name change would not only eliminate that problem, but would cast the party in the lime light as it would most likely make the evening news and be seen by all those viewers who are satisfied with getting only a few tidbits of the news of the day; you know, I mean the majority.
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Posted: Feb. 09 2003,15:00

Do not continue to lie to yourself that you are doing the world a favor by voting for "the lesser of two evils." It is such a vote that serves as the pillar upon which the evil resides.

The two-party system is one of the most problematic aspects of American "democracy." But how can you say that it's as simple as: "a strategic vote for a democrat supports the sum of all evils"? That's all or nothing reasoning; that's self-defeating. The fact that no third party has been able to crack the ranks of the system in over 150 years is a harsh reality, not a self-fulfilling prophesy. Many vulgar Marxists (and others) argue that strategic voting is "opportunism." But is a small bloc of votes for a GP canidate worth the victory of a regressive and oppresive regime?

Nobody wins when a proto-fascist like Bush Jr. grabs the reigns of power. I'm not saying that third parties like the Green Party aren't important, because they are. But, progressives need to differentiate between building power and building sectarianism.

For these reasons, I think that the Nader camp was wrong to push so hard for GP votes in Florida two years ago; many people now shun him for it. Instead, third parties need to focus on strategic areas, where a push away from the two-party monopoly would be less detrimental and more powerful in the long run.
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Posted: Mar. 07 2003,02:24

I am glad to see voting methods being discussed here. I believe it is a structural reform that will enable such things as the "culture of peace" we all seem to be seeking.

The debate around strategies for third parties as made by Joe and Drew are relevant when looking at the current two-party system.

The point about other voting methods is that it makes this debate irrelevant. Other voting methods allow Third Parties to become a constructive part of the political process.

I'm happy to discuss the ins and outs of all this if anyone is interested.

The fact that no third party has been able to crack the ranks of the system in over 150 years is a harsh reality

Not quite accurate. When proportional representation began to be used in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s, the success of women and black candidates indicated minority viewpoints could get a say. Some see this success of proportional representation as the very reason for the backlash against it. See Early American Adoptions of Proportional Representation
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Posted: Aug. 02 2003,15:00

Avoiding the self-fulfilling prophecy..If everyone thinks that a vote for a third party is throwing away the vote, no third party will have a chance.
Third parties such as the American Labor Party have been empowering. The work of this party in the NOrth empowered the Civil Rights movement in the South.
Unfortunately third parties seem to be "one election wonders". I voted for the Citizens' Party, Barry Commoner. Where is that party now?
I understand the Peace and Freedom Party of California has been resuscitated.

I like the Green Party because it is international. I met some "cool" Greens in Washington, from Romania and Ghana.

While we debate strategy, tactically I recommend working for Dennis Kucinich.
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Posted: Nov. 13 2003,13:03

As long as we cling to the two-party system and winner-take-all voting, I believe we will continue to have an immature democracy.

For alternatives to winner-take-all, see Fairvote.org and the Instant Runoff site. We won't get these reforms just by asking for them, however. It will take a mass democratic movement.

The Green Party may take a long time to reach the top levels of power in the U.S., but I am sure it will get there. Unlike other third-party efforts, the Greens are already an unstoppable global movement. Knock 'em out in the U.S. and they'll just keep plugging away in Canada and Mexico until the U.S. is ready to try again. Wisely, the Greens build from the local level upward, and the movement is decentralized.

The vision that unites the global Green movement is a set of 10 "key values" (listed at www.gp.org) -- much like the 8 keys of CPNN -- that serves as a standard for evaluating actions. It is not easy for a demagogue or hate group to co-opt a vision founded on clearly stated core principles. If democracy has a future (and I believe it has), this is probably it.
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