Monday, October 6, 2008

An Appeal to Third Party Voters

Photo: Barack Victory Helps Greens

Make the

for Obama

BY Tom Hayden
Progressives for Obama

Progressive voters leaning towards Ralph Nader or other third party candidates could make the difference between Barack Obama winning or losing the presidency.

Being marginal myself, I am very aware of how decisive third-party voters can be. I won the Democratic nomination to the California senate by less than one-percent in 1992. In the final two weeks, I mailed out an appeal to Green Party voters in my district, urging them to switch parties in order to vote for me. The mailer included cards to re-register from Green to Democrat for the primary, and another card to register again as a Green once the primary was over. Those hundreds of votes made the difference.

Late in 2000, I found myself enmeshed in torrid conversations between the Gore and Nader campaigns. The process wasn’t good. The Democrats were trying to push Nader off the ballot anywhere they could, thus refusing to recognize his core interest in establishing a new party. The Nader people refused to acknowledge that there was any difference between Gore and Bush, and denied that their votes could affect the outcome. My “Gore-Nader” proposal – that Nader endorse Gore in Florida and other close states, and become our most important progressive advocate in Washington after a Gore victory – went nowhere because Nader would have none of it.

So much was at stake in 2000 that, to this day, the wounds then inflicted have not healed. One side [in the tens of millions] believes that Iraq and the Alito Court would have been avoided and the first environmental presidency would have been launched. The other side [a few thousand] denies that the Nader vote caused Gore to lose Florida.

Rather than scrape those scabs one more time, my proposal is that progressives thinking of voting third party this time consider the historic chance to elect Barack Obama president. Such an open gesture would be enormously important to the people who most fervently favor Obama – young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and labor for example – and go a long way to heal and unify the progressive movement this time around.

Many of those Obama supporters share the criticisms of Obama made by the third party advocates – that he needs more pressure on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, domestic spying, trade. But there is no sympathy, no comprehension, only something between irritation and rage, towards the third-party view that it doesn’t matter if John McCain wins and Barack Obama loses.

It is hard for many to grasp that an infintesimal fraction of voters could deny progressive hope and revive the failing fortunes of the neo-conservatives and the right-wing evangelicals. It is possible that Obama, fueled by the Wall Street economic scandal, will pull away, in which case everyone can vote their first preference.

But with 29 days left before the election, it is crystal clear that racism and other forms of submerged resistance are blocking an Obama runaway victory.

If this race is like 2004, here are some reminders of how close it will be. Democrats lost Iowa by 10,059 votes, or .67%. Democrats won Wisconsin by 11,384 votes, or .38%, and New Hampshire with 9, 274 votes, just 1.37%.

Now look at today’s electoral map, as detailed by Obama leads by six percent, 49.3-43.3 in a national average, by four percent in the ABC-Washington Post calculations, and only three percent in the Democracy Corps poll. When you include and Nader and Bob Barr in the count, Obama’s six-point lead is cut by nearly one-third, to 4.2 % [47.5% over McCain’s 43.3, with Nader at 2.5% and Barr at 1.5%.] Cynthia McKinney and others are not included.

These projections cannot estimate the numbers of new voters or the turnout of African-Americans who will offset Obama’s losses among some conservative Democrats. But neither can they fathom whether six percent of white voters who say they are voting for Obama will wind up secretly voting for the white man, which is the historic pattern.

That means that the national numbers, for now, are dead even. If that pattern holds, the third-party left can make a big difference in ensuring a majority vote for Obama by increasing their support in safe states like California and New York.

When we get down into the key electoral college states, it doesn’t matter if solid red state voters drift from McCain to Nader or others. Where it matters decisively is in states like Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina, where there are crucial progressive pockets.

At this point, the map shows these states too close to call:

- Ohio, Obama by 3%.
- Wisconsin, Obama by 5%.
- Virginia, Obama by 4.9%
- Florida, Obama by 3%.
- Colorado, Obama by 3%.
- Nevada, Obama by 1.8%
- Indiana, McCain by 2.2%
- North Carolina, Obama by 0.5%

Perhaps these states will turn decisively to Obama. We may know in ten days. But at this moment, the Obama movement needs all the votes at the margin.

Third party voters should watch the polls very carefully, and think long and hard about the choice presenting itself.

In the face of McCain-Palin, is it possible to argue that there is no difference between the candidates this time? Is it really credible to argue that voting for Nader individually doesn’t matter because it doesn’t matter to the outcome, which seems to be Nader’s argument for the 2000 Florida result?

In addition to voting for Obama, third party activists can make a huge local difference in fighting to see that every vote counts in states with unreliable registrars, histories of stolen elections, and long cold lines on election nights. This will be a street battle for democracy that citizens of every persuasion should engage in.

In the end, the only question in November is the basic question of which side you are on, a question that goes back decades and centuries and which this generation has the historic opportunity to answer.


plunge protection team joke said...

you MUST take one of the candidates who forced you to pay for the Wall Street bailout.

"The two parties should be
almost identical, so that
the American people can
'throw the rascals out'
at any election without
leading to any profound or
extensive shifts in policy."
-Carol Quigley

Carl Davidson said...

The problem, 'Plunge,' is that the joke is always true, or always false. Why? Because you never have to make an actual assessment in an actual context. It's what I'd call an artful dodge.

Adam said...

Tom, Carl,

There is a large part of me that wants to see Obama win. There is an another part of me, and equally valid, that feels an Obama presidency will sap the left of it's movement.

Over the past year, youth have been taking the reins of the movement. In Denver we achieved one of the first real victories of the anti-war movement. It was small but it was a victory.

Our ideas are finally being heard, and we are drawing out more and more of our generation to stand up.

My major concern is that either way the election goes we will have a president that believes in continuing the war in Iraq (at least for the next 16 months,) escalation in Afghanistan, unfettered support for Israel's war against the Palestinian people, and "all options" with Iran.

If McCain's in office, the outrage and willingness to stand up will continue and the youth movement will grow. And I believe we can and will force the end of the war. Remember, our generation wasn't really allowed to lead with our ideas until recently.

I don't want to see McCain in office. But it is obvious the steam for our movement will subside, possibly to the point of making us impotent, with an Obama win. Most people believe Obama will end the war. But most people don't realize he's only committed to removing some troops, and even then, only by July 2010. How do we overcome this image and demand an immediate end, with all troops withdrawn. Who will we have to continue to challenge him?

These are valid concerns that turn many people towards third party candidates, and I can't fault them for that.

Carl Davidson said...

I don't think it's at all 'obvious' that an Obama win would take the steam out of the left.

Quite the opposite.

A victory of this magnitude would light a fire under all social movements, pro-Obama or critical of him, as their expectations for change would be raised and made more palpable.

I think if you do a study of history, you'll find this is exactly when insurgencies rise--not when people are beaten back and left with less hope, but when there's a tension between increased difficulties, one one hand, and raised expectations, on the other.

A McCain-Pain victory, of the other hand, could lead to a combination of demobilizing despair among many and a increased wacko adventurism among a few, which is also disorganizing, but in a different way.

I strongly urge you to think about this a little more deeply, and not get caught up in some anarcho-lite dogma on the topic.

Not Authoritative said...

You need to understand that this is a two way street; you can't ask supporters of third party candidates for their votes while participating in activities which are inimical to third party politics.

If Democratic candidates want our votes, you will need to pledge some things in return:

1. You must allow third party candidates to participate in Presidential debates. A reasonable threshold (such as appearing on ballots in states which total over 269 electoral votes) is acceptable.

2. You must pledge never to work against the enfranchisement of third party candidates in their quest to access a spot on the ballot of any state.

3. You should pledge to implement instant runoff voting ( or approval voting for Presidential candidates. This will allow third party supporters to express their approval of the policies of a third party candidate, while allowing them also to avoid the potential of hurting their second choice candidate (who might be the Democrat!).

If you, as a member of one of the parties in power, can't pledge to make the playing field more available to third party candidates, then there's really no reason why they should give you their votes.

Anonymous said...


Recently an insurance company nearly wind up....

A bank is nearly bankrupt......filing chapter 11 protection.

How it affect you? Did you buy insurance? Did you buy mini note or bonds?

Who fault?

They bailout trouble finance company, but they will not bail out your credit card bills……You got no choice, and no point pointing finger but you can prevent similar things from happen again……

The top management of the Public listed company ( belong to "public" ) salary should be tied a portion of it to the shares price ( IPO or ave 5 years ).... so when the shares price drop, it don't just penalise the investors, but those who don't take care of the company.....If this rule is pass on, without any need of further regulation, all industries ( as long as it is public listed ) will be self regulated......because the top management will be concern about their own pay check……
Meanwhile if company was being acquired, there will be a great movement in terms of staff……eventually staff suffer also.
Some might feel that it sound stupid….. as there is long and Short position…but in reality there is still many different caliber CEO… there is still long and short…..They can ban short selling definitely they can do something about this.......

Are you a partisan?

Sign a petition to your favourite president candidate, congress member, House of representative again and ask for their views to comment on this, and what regulations they are going to raise for implementation.....If you agree on my point, please share with many people as possible.... Finance and Media are the two only industries can shaken politics ( Maybe Hackers can ), please help to highlight also...


Facebook, come and join as a friend and share with your friends…..

Anonymous said...

The Supreme Court Justices must not be chosen by Republicans.

The idea of three Months without evictions makes sense. Neighborhoods are safer with occupied houses. At least one Sheriff refused to evict.

As mortgages are paid with a lower interest rate the Banks should be
required to straighten out the mortgage mess.

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