Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Working Families Party: An alternative to being a Democrat

Tweedle dumb and Tweedle dumber

Electoral politics in these United States are a farce.  Voters are faced with two variations of the same basic theme.  The differences between the two parties are chimeric and defined by the ostracized and ignored constituent factions which they discount as "fringe." Ironically, those same factions are recognized as the respective bases of the very parties that ignore them once the leadership offices change hands.

So, for example, the same people who ardently supported President Obama in the 2008 election, the people who voted for meaningful health care reform, for investigations into the misdeeds of the previous administration, for an end to the war in Iraq are now deemed the "left-wing" of the Democratic Party.  Their views are suddenly "out of the mainstream."

Or, on the other side of the coin, the people who vociferously advocate deportation of dark-skinned peoples, who condemn lifestyles that do not adhere to their oppressive and fearful Puritan mindset, who advocate full scale war on all fronts, the people who voted for Junior Bush, are regarded by the Republican Party as "right-wing."

Each election cycle, candidates dole out platitudes, pound their fists with feigned passion, and, once elected, go right back to serving the interests of their true constituencies:  the moneyed elite.

As Ani DiFranco puts it:  "Who's gonna be president?  Tweedle dumb?  Or Tweedle dumber?" 

The other night, on the eve of the Democrats' embarrassment in Massachusetts, a (friendly and informative) canvasser came to my house to talk about an alternative.  It's called "fusion voting," and in simplistic terms, it allows "minor" parties to cross-endorse candidates.  A bill allowing for this recently passed the Oregon state legislature and has been signed by Governor Kulongoski.  That makes it a law. So this new paradigm is on its way.

It works like this:  a candidate may run as a Democrat or Republican, but also receive the endorsement of a third party.  For example:

US Senate
  • Gloria Goodjobs
    Democrat, Working Families

  • Rich White
    Republican, Aryan Nation
This mechanism provides a method for people to "vote their values" without committing to a particular national party.  (And, after all, I've got nothing in common with a punk like Joe Lieberman.) 

There are other states that use this model.  For example, New York, which has at least three parties, as was demonstrated late last year with the Republican fiasco in the 23rd Congressional District.

A quick perusal of the Working Families Party website (which, as of this writing, is in need of an update), confirms that the values it espouses are in line with my own.  Specifically:
  • Affordable health care for all Oregonians where our health, or lack thereof, is not dependent on individual wealth and subject to private profiteering; we support national single-payer health care consistent with the principles of H.R. 676
  • Opening doors to opportunity through higher education and technical training that does not result in indebtedness for our citizens
  • Affordable housing, a stop to predatory lending practices, investment in new affordable housing development, and protection of existing affordable housing.
  • Promotion of green family wage jobs whose legacy leaves a clean, secure, and sustainable environment for our children.
  • Supporting fair trade, defending our jobs against outsourcing, wage and benefit cuts, and corporate raiding.
  • The right to organize and reach a first contract free of intimidation, discrimination, and illegal terminations.
I'm on board with all of that, so I registered with them.  And the best part of it all is this:  Democrats, you no longer get my vote by default.  You're going to have to earn it.  You dumb asses.


Dan Binmore said...

An interesting consideration. We all know that the Working Families Party stands zero chance of being elected to any position with substantial power in the near future, and more likely will disappear through lack of support or funding. On the other hand they stand for what we believe in. In a first past the post system a third party to the left of the Democrats can only make it more likely that Republicans will win. From the description you give of the party what will happen is that in any election where the Republican's might win you will vote Democrat.

The parties govern the way they do because that's what the majority of Americans want just without corruption and graft). The way to get the change you want is to contribute to changing what the voters want, and then the parties will follow. You and I are on the fringe, if the parties did what we wanted when in office they would be booted out of office at the first opportunity.

Such is Democracy.

Stewart Royce King said...

The point of fusion voting as I understand it is that you can vote as a Working Families voter for the Democratic candidate, but on the Working Families line. So when you get your ballot, there will be a line for "Gloria Goodjobs, Democrat" and another line for "Gloria Goodjobs, Working Families". If you vote the WF line, Gloria still gets your vote, and the one with the most total votes still wins the election. But if Gloria goes to Washington or Salem knowing that 20% of her voters came off the WF ticket, she will have more respect (hopefully) for the WF agenda and less for the Godfrey Gotbucks folks on the Democratic side.

20 Chapters said...

Fight the good fight. Me? Pretty sure we're leaving the country in 3 years.

Dan Binmore said...

To Mr. King, if that is the point of Fusion Voting, then the point is no greater than polling data. Politicians already have this information and are already acting upon it.

20 Chapters said...

Fight the good fight. Me? Pretty sure we're leaving the country in 3 years.