Third/Fourth/Fifth Party Thoughts

Wednesday, 28 April 2004, 14:58 | Category : Politics
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Third-party/independent candidates seem to have been as ever-present as they’ve been unsuccessful in US politics. Martin Van Buren, in 1848, was possibly the first “serious” third-party candidate (Free Soil Party). Maybe the most successful was Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, with the Bull Moose Party, garnering 27% of the vote and outpolling the Republican candidate. Eugene McCarthy, George Wallace, John Anderson, and Ross Perot made notable runs which all ended with less than 10% of the vote.

But even if one of these had somehow been elected, how would they have governed? They would have been confronted by a Senate and House Of Representatives controlled by either Democrats or Republicans, neither of whom would have had much interest in seeing the Administration thrive. And the President would have had to assemble a cabinet composed of people who had opposed his election. It would be nice to dream of a world in which this situation would have brought about real teamwork, bridges being built across party lines, and meaningful change. But far more likely would have been a gridlock of immense porportions.

Why aren’t third-party supporters instead concentrating on getting candidates elected to the House or Senate? Build your party from the ground up, rather than blue-sky down? It wouldn’t have the immediate impact as would the (never-to-be-achieved) election of a President, but if, say, the Libertarians were to elect 10-15 House members in 2006, they might soon enough be in a position to effect some measure of change. Maybe in 20-30 years, we’d be looking at the real possibility of a President who wasn’t Republican or Democrat.

Presidential Politics, Division 1AA, Division II, Division III

Tuesday, 27 April 2004, 12:05 | Category : Politics
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So, you’re not fond of George W. Bush, but John Kerry doesn’t exactly make you want to stand up and cheer either. And you don’t object to the possibility that you might throw your vote away. To paraphrase Norman Thomas, you would rather vote for something you want and lose, than vote for something you don’t want and win. So, here’s some other choices, in no particular order:

American Party – Diane Templin – attorney from California. “Templin — in all of her recent races — touts herself as “100% Pro-Life.” She also is a strident opponent of gay rights and illegal immigration, and a vocal supporter of school vouchers and gun rights. She also likes to pepper her campaign remarks with frequent Biblical references. In fact, Templin explained it was a Biblical verse that inspired her to make runs for political office. “I thought of a verse in Isaiah, the Old Testament, and it said: ‘Who will I send and who will go for me?’ — and I said, here am I, Lord, send me,” explained Templin. Further, Templin said that she would only belong to a political party that “acknowledges God as creator and the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.” She describes her campaign platform as: “I support Biblical and Constitutional Principles of Life, Liberty and Property.” ”

Consitution Party – Mike Peroutka, attorney from Maryland. (Provisional candidate, in case Roy Moore accepts an offer to be their candidate). “The mission of the Constitution Party is to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity through the election, at all levels of government, of Constitution Party candidates who will uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations” (Mission Statement of the Constitution Party)

Libertarian Party – so many candidates, you’d think they were Democrats: Michael Badnarik (Texas), Jeffrey Diket,(Louisiana), David Hollist (California), Gary Nolan (Virginia), Ruben Perez (Texas), Mike Ross (Arizona), Aaron Russo (California). Badnarik is a gun-rights advocate; Diket is pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights. Hollist bases his candidacy on something called contract insurance, that would somehow replace taxes. Nolan, a former radio host, seems to have the most classic LP platform. Perez opposes foreign workers and the Patriot Act. Ross is running to protest the Libertarian Party itself, apparently. Russo is a Hollywood producer who wants to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and restore the freedoms we’ve lost since 9/11.

The Green Party – another large group of candidates: Peter Camejo (California), David Cobb (Texas), Paul Glover (New York), Kent Mesplay (California), Carol Miller (New Mexico), Christina Rosetti (New York), Lorna Salzman (New York). Camejo was the Socialist Worker’s Party candidate in 1976, who has morphed into a European-style democratic socialist. But he’s really running as a surrogate for Ralph Nader. Cobb has been a public interest lawyer and legal counsel for the Green Party. He advocates only running Green candidates in states where they wouldn’t threaten the Democrat’s candidate. Glover is a massage therapist who really wants to run as VP on a Nader ticket. Mesplay wants to combine new technologies with ancient wisdom of indigenous cultures to provide for a sustainable future for all life on Earth. Miller is a former Public Health Service officer who is focused on health care reform. Rosetti is a New Age spiritualist who wants to reform the Green Party because it “is starting to look more and more to some people as the party of bigotry, hypocrisy and hatred and not the party of progressive reform”. Salzman is a long-time environmental activist who seems to be really running for the VP slot.

The Reform Party has a few candidates, none of whom are named Perot: John Buchanan (Florida), Jason Pacifico (New York), Ted Weill (Mississippi). Buchanan has a serious dislike of George Bush. Pacifico is running on a plan to create a “Mortgage Achromatic Plan”. Weill wants to end foreign aid and lower gas prices.

The Natural Law Party seems to be endorsing Dennis Kucinich.

Peace & Freedom Party – Leonard Peltier. Peltier, a prominent Native American activist, has been serving a life sentence in federal prison for the murder of two FBI agents at the 72-day standoff at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1975. If he wins, the Secret Service will have to protect him from the FBI.

For those of you even further left than me, the Socialist Party is running Walt Brown. The Socialist Equality Party is running Bill Van Auken. And the Socialist Worker’s Party is running Martin Koppel. But Koppel wasn’t born in the US, so we can safely discount his chances.

And then there’s Ralph Nader. But since I’m still peeved at Ralph about 2000, I won’t provide a link to his site.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2004, 18:22 | Category : Geek Stuff
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If you haven’t been checking out, you’re missing a ton of stuff. In addition to the Wayback Machine, which lets you see early version of millions of web pages, there’s thousands of audio and video archives. For instance, those of you who have, like me, been hanging around geekland for longer than you care to think will remember The Computer Chronicles, which ran on PBS from 1984 until 2002. Well, has every episode of The Computer Chronicles archives in QT and mpeg. You can see a commercial for the new 1960 Fords, or take a ride in your merry 1927 Oldsmobile. Or watch the US blow up Bikini atoll. And don’t miss this little gem.

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RLP and the Raccoon

Sunday, 4 April 2004, 21:00 | Category : Other Stuff
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Do yourself a favor, go to Real Live Preacher and read the series of posts about the raccoon. It’s hilarious.

I’ll make it easy for you:

Part 1: In which we are introduced to the raccoon

Part 2: In which the raccoon gains the upper hand/paw

Part 3: In which RLP calls for outside assistance

Part 4: An air of resignation

Part 5: In which RLP invokes a new and hideous weapon

Part 6: In which fox urine is avoided, and RLP emerges victorious

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The White House

Friday, 2 April 2004, 23:20 | Category : Politics
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I’ve said more than once that in a democracy, you mostly get what you deserve. I guess the losing side would argue that isn’t true. But that’s missing my point. Somewhere in the last forty years, we prostituted ourselves electorally. We began lowering the cost of our votes, and stopped thinking seriously about that for or against which we were voting. We’ve allowed the major political parties to define campaigns in little snippets of catchphrases, thirty-second soundbites, and simplistic platitudes that perhaps stir fond memories of some half-perceived remembrance, but that, when stripped to their essence, say nothing. And the worst part of this is that we allow it to continue even when we know that’s what is occurring.


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