Alternative Parties not Creating a Draw
On Monday, Vaughn Ververs of CBS News asserted that Unity08 “has yet to catch fire. Politically speaking, there just doesnâ€™t seem to be room for a third party in this already intense and high-stakes election.” He’s right: with eight months to go before its ballyhooed nominating convention, Unity08 has managed to attract just 1.1 percent of the 10 million people it says it will need in order to pull off its election right. What will fill this membership chasm? Apparently, Unity08 thinks that hiring a new graphics designer and replacing old Communications Director Shane Kinkennon with a new one will do the trick. It’s not surprising that Unity08 thinks it can talk and draw its way out of the problem; the corporation is run by public relations executives, and that’s what public relations executives would think of. But even the communications major strategies aren’t working any more. When Sam Waterston recently showed up on the Colbert Report, Unity08 gained only 4,000 new members from across the nation, four ten-thousandths of Unity08’s goal. At that rate, Unity08 would need to show up on the Colbert Report 2,500 days in a row in order to get its ten million — and Unity08 has less than a tenth of that time to go. Unity08 just isn’t going to happen.
I won’t shed a tear for Unity08’s demise: it’s a fake-populist, plagiarism-encouraging inside operation that fronts for the most callous impulses of corporate America. But I do find it discouraging that other more honest alternative political efforts aren’t gaining too much traction this year. Not one person has asked for one of our independent or third party bumper stickers yet this year. Alternative party presidential candidates aren’t being covered in newsprint or on TV, either. We have learned from painful experience that most Democrats aren’t likely to take effective and principled action unless they’re forced by political pressure into doing so. If the Democratic Party knows that liberal Americans will support its candidates no matter what, the Party will continue to be invertebrate. Strong alternatives to the Democrats need to be presented to nudge the Democrats into action. And if the Democrats won’t act, then strong alternatives to the Democrats need to be available so that we can vote them into office.
There is a legitimate alternate opinion that however mealy-mouthed most Democrats may be, they aren’t nearly as bad as the Republicans, and that in our two party system as it is currently constituted, voting Democrat keeps the Republicans and their theocratic, anti-constitution, pro-torture, pro-war, surveillance-happy agenda out of power. Legislative records bear this idea out — there is more than a dime’s worth of difference, even if the Democrats are collectively a disappointment to stalwart pro-constitution liberals.
What’s your opinion on the subject? What should happen in this next year? What will happen?