If you are content to choose between two candidates who are beneficiaries of Citizens United and who can drum up $100 grand with one phone call, pay this no mind.
If you want other, non-corporatized candidates to at least get heard, you should make a donation to a third party candidate, or at least let it be known that there are other candidates out there who represent the views of other Americans. We may have a two-party system, but we are anything but a two party country.
Dr. Jill Stein is the presumptive presidential candidate for the Green Party. In order to obtain federal matching funds, they have to raise a total of $100,000 – $5000 from each of 20 states. They have met this goal in 16 states, and only have four to go as of this writing, but time is running out.
“If they can’t raise $100,000, are they even viable?” We say we hate the dollar derby around politics, but this is the first question asked because we know that without money a candidate is not competitive. Money is a measure of relevance and viability. Which is why corporations love Citizens United and a manageable two party system. Let’s use Dr. Stein’s campaign to examine this.
There are millions of environmentalists in this country. Most of them voted for President Obama before, and may do so this year, though many are not entirely pleased with his record on energy and climate change. They might be expected to value having a more strident voice on environmental issues present in this election cycle.
There are tens of millions of women who are sensitized, due to recent setbacks in women’s rights, to the desirability of having women in every level of government. Four years ago, Hillary’s campaign galvanized women who thought that, finally, the glass ceiling might get a hole poked in it. We have a woman running for president this year, too. Where’s the press? Has she even been on Rachel Maddow? The View?
There are tens of millions of Americans who abhor the Citizens United ruling – a super majority of Americans want money out of politics and see the Citizens United ruling as being a bad idea.
Almost all Americans are dissatisfied, to say the least, with Congress. In recent polls, 75-86% of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Congress consists almost totally of Democrats and Republicans – the only two parties that will benefit from the Citizens United ruling.
The papers talk about the crying need for a third party. But we have a number of third parties: the Green Party for environmentalists and liberals; the Libertarian Party for those who are fiscally conservative and liberal on social issues, as represented by their candidate, Gary Johnson; the Justice Party, with candidate Rocky Anderson, for progressives; and so on. We’re standing in a stable full of horses, crying, “A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
So what gives? I chalk it up to the slow process of changing consciousness, and to what I call the Nader Effect. Take Dr. Jill Stein again as an example. A liberal green woman should be cleaning up, just on demographics. But many who might donate, and who loathe Citizens United, think that the fact that she is scrambling for the modest sum of $100,000 means that she is not viable. If they are tempted to donate, they are concerned that, if too many people vote for her, the Nader Effect will be triggered and President Obama – the lesser of two evils for this demographic – might lose to the greater of two evils. And then Armageddon will happen. (Isn’t every election the most important of our time, after all?)
How Bad Could He Be?
Here’s the rub: if we don’t donate to other candidates, their voices will simply not be heard. We will only hear from candidates supported by corporations. Democrats and Republicans will not include other voices in the debates, and if the media try to (fat chance), the bankrolled candidates will bolt and refuse to participate.
Election season is the time when candidates are most susceptible to pressure. MoveOn’s members decided last week by a 91-9% margin to endorse President Obama’s re-election. They gave up all leverage they had, less than 5 months before Election Day.
They may as well have told the President that whatever he wants to do is fine by them, and oh, by the way, here’s a check.
Third parties are valuable, not because their candidates might win – it’s highly unlikely, though Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have had significant effects on elections in our time – but because they talk about topics that are considered unsafe for the bankrolled candidates (or candidates “rolled” by the banks, as it were) to address.
I will go out on a limb and say that, in this current environment, there is no such thing as a debate. When Democrats and Republicans meet, there is no debate at all. Differences, yes, but on the level of On-Off, Up-Down, Hot-Cold – and most issues are more complex than that.
- Abortion – Choice
- Law & Order – Peace & Justice
- Gay Marriage – Traditional Marriage
- Renewable Energy – Drill Baby Drill
- Christian Nation – Society
- Be Your Brothers’ Keeper – Teach a Man to Fish
These aren’t debates. These are schoolyard taunts on the level of “Oh, yeah?’ “Yeah!” Remember how refreshing Ron Paul was in the Republican debates? That is what a diversity of voices can accomplish, but we need a steady supply, rather than just one guy in the primaries.
No corporation will underwrite a candidate who makes the job of controlling the political debate more difficult. We still, at this date, have the ability to give other voices a chance to be heard. Since no one else – not the corporate puppet masters, not the media, and not the two major parties – will do it, it’s up to us.
You will probably end up voting for the corporate client/candidate of your choice. But don’t let it be because you co-conspired to keep other voices silent and off stage. Donate to the third party candidate of your choice. Let’s make it interesting.