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


  1. I posted this comment to your comment at FDL, but I wasn't sure you'd see it since it's comment #168.

    I like the plan. If enough people committed that $10 per month, I wonder if we couldn’t recruit some former Democratic candidates to turn Green. I’m thinking of those who lost primaries, but not because they were flakes or felons or whatnot. My thinking is that they probably have some campaigning skills and if they have tried (especially more than once) to get somewhere but failed in the Democratic party, maybe they’d be willing to try with a decently-funded Green party.

  2. Brother I am working with two people that are working to organize progressives ib a National Level - One Bob Alston is working on the theory that we need a LIBERAL MEDIA on a regional basis, and we need to identify and train progressive leadership on a regional basis.
    So he's contacting Progressives across the states, to train each other to do streaming media on local progressive issues. Also to train them by doing local and regional projects it will serve the secondary purpose of raising the progressive community's profile in the broader independent community.

    The other Mikki Royce is working to create county or regional based roundtables where existing progressive groups can meet, share contacts and resources and get to know each other better.
    She's got people in several states working on that concept. I've been writing about these efforts toward organizing a poll to identify the platform agenda that can be voted on.

    Then a National Convention must be held. We must do this, and put and end to the unanswerable question, WHERE ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO GO? I had a great reception, for my article recently on OpEdNews. Some asked what about the Green Party or the Socialist Party. I personally would favor neither. But in the interests of PROGRESS I would swallow nearly twice the grief we've gotten from the likes of GIBBS, AXELROD, BAUCUS, LIEBERMAN, and Obama.

    solidarity & peace

  3. I will comment further on both of your comments when I have some time. Sorry this took me so long. I have to update my update software for comments. Apologies.