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With Runoffs Complete, It’s Grayson 4th, Hamsher 10th!

Voting occurred at MyFDL last Wednesday and Thursday in the effort to determine likely leaders of a two-stage strategy aimed at substantively changing the way politics is done in this country.

This particular strategy – just one of many being discussed and debated throughout the Lefty blogosphere – aims to leverage the attention lavished on politics throughout the 15- to 18-month period leading up to a presidential election. It seeks to apply the existing electoral process to the goal of replacing – or displacing – the once-proud Democratic Party with a new political entity that will again strongly and unremittingly represent Lefty ideology at the national level.

Up to now, the electoral process has been a roadblock to the formation of new parties, but that’s because it’s been used unwisely. This strategy sets out a methodical, intentional approach for leveraging the electoral system – and the way it is understood – in building a coalition of the wider American Left.

Those of us trying to further this effort believe the Democratic Party has long-since abandoned the core tenets of progressivism which made it great, in favor of (1) lining the pockets of the Party’s corporate benefactors, and (2) seeking electoral success for what is, increasingly, the Democratic-In-Name-Only “brand.”

The effort began in September under several banners. It coalesced in late October and early November as MyFDL members placed names in nomination. And it culminated last week when MyFDLers voted for their top ten preferred candidates. This diary provides more details about the vote, thoughts on our next steps, and a bit of my own opinions and analysis.

The Vote

Let’s begin with some raw numbers:

Ballots cast: 64
Votes cast: 626
Distinct candidates voted for: 109

It helps to remember that we sought the 10 top preferences of each voter, using IRV (instant runoff voting) to determine the place finishers. So, with 64 individual voters participating and choosing 10 preferred candidates, there was the potential for 640 total votes. Though the vast majority of voters filled all ten of their ballot’s slots, a few did not – thus the slightly lower total of 626 votes cast.

To recap and somewhat clarify the results posted hastily here on Saturday, the top ten preferred candidates came in as follows:

1. Elizabeth Warren
2. Russ Feingold
4. Howard Dean
4. Richard Trumka
5. Alan Grayson
6. Cynthia McKinney
7. Al Franken
8. Paul Krugman
9. Dennis Kucinich
10. Jane Hamsher

In the Saturday results thread, I showed Grayson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tied for fourth, and eleven others tied for tenth, including FDL’s own Jane Hamsher, along with Cindy Sheehan, David Sirota, Jan Schakowsky, Joe Stiglitz, Jon Stewart, Leonard Peltier, Patrick Fitzgerald, Raul Grijalva, Robert Reich, and Valerie Plame. Because of a time commitment (and much driving to and fro in order to meet it) I was unable to post the runoff outcomes of these ties until today, after counting total votes for each of the contenders for the fourth and tenth slots.

Grayson beat Kennedy by four votes, and Hamsher enjoyed the same margin over her two nearest competitors, Raul Grijalva and Robert Reich.

Opinion/analysis: Just in tabulating the ballots, it was clear that people took a lot of time considering their choices. And while 64 individual “voters” is a decent turnout, two things surprised me:

(1) Just over one-third of all voters (23) did NOT participate in any of the five nominating threads, and

(2) Nearly three-fifths – that’s right, MORE THAN HALF – of the 91 people who did participate in the nominating threads did not vote!

Needless to say, it was disappointing that so many people who were interested enough to discuss or put forth nominees did not – for whatever reason – vote, despite being offered a “ride” to the polls. (There were isolated reports of difficulty posting to some diaries Thursday, but the effect of that glitch, if any, on the voting thread is unknown.)

The other thing I found striking has been noted elsewhere: The utterly party-line Democratic nature of many finalists. While it remains to be seen who if any among these preferred choices will agree to run as both a Dem and the nominee of the new party we hope to forge, it is nonetheless noteworthy that voters picked (what I consider at least) a large number of entrenched Dems.

And while this is just my take – and while I will support any candidate who understands our rationale and platform, and who agrees in writing to our terms for their candidacy – I believe that if fundamental change is going to come, whether in the form of retaking the Democratic Party or the founding of a new party to replace it, that party will require strong and vocal leadership from the full Lefty spectrum, meaning an overwhelming majority of people who are no longer willing to accept the “lesser of two evils” and simply pull the big “D” lever, year in and year out.

Next steps

I think the next piece of the puzzle is the assembling of a platform. welshTerrier2 has put up this interesting comment related to what the Democrats of FDR stood for and how to update that for our times. He calls it a “one plank” platform.

I’ve floated my desire for a broad, 10-point platform that purposely limits our statement of each plank to no more than 20 words, that we might take a lesson from the Right in making our message clear, bold and direct.

Others have mentioned borrowing heavily from the Green Party Platform, not only to entice them to come our way, but because of the overlap that clearly exists in ideologies.

And many months ago, Mason put up a very detailed platform that I and others found interesting and thought-provoking.

What’s In A Name?

And of course there’s the matter of a name. juliania floated “Greendies” (or “GreenD’s”).

I’m partial to “New Progressive Alliance.”

What are your thoughts?

Thanks again, all, for keeping the discussion going.

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Anthony Noel

Anthony Noel