Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Progressives should support the SEIU's Third Party effort.

(This isn't my full piece on third party runs but it outlines and further fleshes out my thoughts on this issue.)

I saw this Firedoglake piece by Jon Walker. He makes the argument that the SEIU shouldn't make independent third party runs against democrats.

I disagree strongly and I wrote not only a comment but a seperate diary talking about this at Firedoglake.

Here's part of what Jon thinks:

Most importantly, SEIU is basically deciding to cast itself in the role of the Ralph Nader caricature that Democrats have been attacking as the ultimate evil liberal bogeyman for the last decade. Now, like the mythical, nefarious Nader Campaign–but unlike Nader’s actual campaign–SEIU will run third-party candidates (who are right on all the requisite issues) with the express purpose of handing a Democratic seat over to the Republicans because the Democrat was not sufficiently “liberal” enough. I wonder what could have been achieved if the same hardball tactics were used to advance real progressive goals like a public option, single payer, drug re-importation, etc.

Here's what I wrote in response:

Jon: We should support the SEIU’s efforts to create a third party and here’s why.
By: Steelydan3 Tuesday March 16, 2010 4:47 pm

I wrote this as a comment to Jon’s piece here. It just struck me as a good diary as well. I’ll post it at Open Left as well.

Love your analysis Jon, but I think you’re wrong on this one. Your thinking is based on what are a number of flawed theories about third party runs and the Ralph Nader presidential run.

First, I totally and wholeheartedly support labor if it decides to make third party runs at the congressional level. The easiest and quickest way for third parties to make a splash is running at the congressional level. Labor should have its own party, period. Especially now.

Misconception one: Third party runs are always losers.

They say that about primary runs, too. And you’re right if Bill Halter raises 25000 grand for a primary run against Blanche Lincoln then its a waste of time. If he raises 1 million and counting he’s gotta helluva shot. Use your imagination and apply this same logic to independent third party runs.

Let’s say the SEIU runs a third party campaign against Jason Altmire, who hasn’t attracted a primary candidate as of yet and probably won’t. Its too late. There are two ways you can run a challenge to a third party. Here’s the Green Party way: raise two thousand dollars and make a run against Mike Doyle, who’s actually a pretty dependable liberal democrat. Okay, then you’re running as a spoiler.(True story by the way.)

But what if you raise about 300000 grand for the candidate and recreate the American Coming Together canvas for four months? That’s a run that would have a real shot. Rich people like Lamont and Bloomberg aren’t viable candidates because they’re charismatic. They win because they have money. The SEIU has the same resources to make candidates “viable”. They could probably blow their noses and find 300000 grand either in direct funding or campaign staff/doorknockers. I think you could win with just doorknockers.

Misconception two: People just love the two party system.

There needs to be a party that challenges the two party system. One of the things that’s disturbing about the republican attack against the plan is that they’re fundamentally unable to attack the worst part of the plan: forced mandates and IRS enforcement. I just think they’re incapable of making that kind of argument, especially as the party that prides itself in shilling directly for corporate interests that screw the public. I think the republicans are mad that they couldn’t deliver on NAFTA or forcing every single american to buy a product so that it will widen the pool and hopefully lower rates. (ha ha ha.)

A third party can do that. Not that its a guarantee that a labor party would be consistently progressive. I would watch all labor candidates on both the choice and environmental issues…but it would be better than conservadems and republicans. I’ll try a different pain I guess

Misconception three: A third party has to win every single seat in every single race to be effective.

That’s false. I will air my plan again. You need to contest 5 senate seats/25 house seats to have a say on most issues that are before the congress. We could start in 2010 and be ready by 2012. It would be nice if those 30 or so people were hard negotiators like Bart Stupak. You need 300000 to run a viable house campaign and you need 2 million to run a viable US Senate race. The SEIU could easily do this.

Misconception 4: Progressives can only win within the Democratic Party.

Jon, go reread your own work. Or read Glenn on civil liberties. Or read Jane’s recent comments on the choice issue. We need to leverage our position with viable third party runs. This is what Rahm meant when he said don’t worry about the left and how frakin' retarded we are.

This is a really a combined sentence. He really meant “Progressives are frakin' retarded because they’ll vote democrat no matter what evil policies we pass.” Frankly, if this is his thinking, he’s completely correct. I mean, your position is “Screw me hard and dry, Rahm and Barry. I’ll vote democrat anyway and criticize the SEIU if they look for a way out…”

Philip Shropshire

PS: One more thing about Nader: Democrats lost in 2000 and 2004 because republican secretaries of state essentially caged and stole the vote. Nader didn’t help but there’s a very good chance that the republicans would have won anyway. The fix was in and both Gore and Bush should have fought long and hard just like Norm Coleman to make sure every vote was counted. Kerry might have won if he had simply requested a recount, at the very least the theft would have been more obvious…

Tags: Jon Walker, The 5/25 Plan, third party, Viable Third Party runs

A brief description of the 5/25 plan.

I'm going to write a much more detailed outline on what the 5/25 plan is when I have a little bit more time. But this is the short version:

Progressives have been locked out of the debate. We have no place in the Republican Party and the Democratic establishment views the progressive left with what can almost be described as outright hostility, with Rahm Emanuel saying that "we're fucking retards" and "don't worry about the left". And here's the thing: I'm convinced that he might be right because he's convinced that we simply don't have the stones or the moxie to run independent or third party campaigns. Let's prove him wrong about that.

My theory is that we can create viable third party runs because of what we've seen in a number of fund raising attempts by Alan Grayson, Bill Halter and others. We're not running "symbolically". We're running to win.

What do we need to win. We don't need to win every seat everywhere. We're looking for enough seats to create a real progressive block that isn't answerable to the DNC and won't be threatened by Rahm in the shower. A bloc where every member has signed a contract not to work for corporate lobbies after they leave congress. Yes, this bloc would have to be chosen very carefully. Not saying this is going to be easy by the way. (And yes, we would sue if they breach any element of the contract. No more toothless pledges...)

As I've said about a thousand times online at various places, we need to initially shoot for 5 senate seats and 25 house seats. In order to run a viable third party independent campaign you need to raise at least 300000 dollars for a house campaign and 2 million dollars for a senate campaign.

I'll write more on this later.