This post is not directed at all the wonderful FDLers who cannot afford $45/year. Dumpsterdivers and others, stop reading.
1. If FDL had $45 for everyone who claimed they would never vote for Obama, Scarecrow, Phoenix Woman, masaccio, bmaz, Mary and so many other great VOLUNTEERS would have been PAID for all their great work.
1.1 I’ve been kicking in $20/month for the last few years. I feel as though I’m just flat out stealing from Jane, Marcy and all the rest.
FDL doesn’t run on air. Salaries, servers, IT time, networking/securities issues, all cost.
2. In January 2006, Jane asked us to support a candidate, who had name recognition below 9%, against the “liberal” Joe Lieberman. Many FDLers and the rest of the Democratic Party at the time whined at Jane for destroying party unity. Fortunately, a lot of FDLers, (Scarecrow and selise to name just two) joined the campaign on their own dime and rang doorbells for Ned. In July, Lamont beat JoLie in the Democratic primary. In the general, Joe was able to leverage the corporate media and peel off a lot of union support to steal a narrow victory. Lieberman’s victory, however, was very costly for Karl Rove. It siphoned off money he had earmarked for other Republicans.
2.1 In June 2010, Jane asked FDL’ers to call their Democratic Congressional Reps and “pledge” not to vote for any health care bill that didn’t include a “public option.” Jane got crucified from the left. She got called every name in the book and then people started getting really nasty. Jane tried to explain that she wasn’t “settling,” for the public option. Unlike everyone else on the left she didn’t trust Obama or the people he hired. She strongly suspected Obama would run a “bait and switch.”
2.1.2 By December 2010, all those posers on the left disappeared. Kos, everyone, caved on the public option. Now, instead of getting crucified from the left, Jane caught it from the entire Democratic party, because FDL alone wouldn’t endorse
welfare for the health care oligopoly Obamacare.
3. I know a lot of people at FDL for whom I have deep and abiding respect, will not vote for Obama. I don’t have a problem with that, but I live in Wisconsin. I won’t give Barry any money, but I will most certainly hold my nose and vote for him. IMHO, at its core FDL is a trusted news source. One of FDL’s core skills has always been to take really complex issues and in a timely way render them accessible. Jane has been writing about Obama caving on Social Security since May 2010. The rest of the corporate media just caught up yesterday. In an increasingly complex world, that timely communication is about the only transparency we have. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap. It takes years of developing trusted relationships. FDL is a very diverse community, but imho, we have to preserve its independence from the “veal pen.” The best way to do that is with cash.
4. For those determined to build a third-party, show me that you can primary a Democrat in a very safe, Democratic seat.
I’m willing to help with that.
Here in Wisconsin, that could be someone like Tammy Baldwin in Madison. It’s in deeply blue districts such as Madison, where any third-party has the best chance.
4.1 But, it’s a lot easier to primary Tammy Baldwin from inside the Democratic party. If you try to run against her in the general from a third party, the Democratic and Republican parties in Wisconsin will crush you. Both parties will be unified in finding all kinds of legal ways of keeping you off the ballot in the GENERAL election.
4.2 Democrats will also leverage their enormous influence with donors and the local media.They will try to suffocate any third-party run in Madison.
4.3 Your candidate against Tammy will have to be really pro-union, and pro-minority. IMHO, the reality is that without those cornerstones, you have zero shot.
We need to drag the national Democratic party away from the far-right. The easiest choke point imho is primary elections for the House of Representatives. As we learned with Ned Lamont, in Senate races, liberal and progressive candidates get crushed by the big money and the inability to get traction in the corporate media.
4.4 The districts with the highest concentrations of Democratic voters are where it’s least difficult to find qualified primary candidates. It’s less difficult to persuade good candidates to primary an incumbent in a heavily Democratic district. The cost of media in the district is also a big factor. The more the media costs, the harder it is for liberal/progressives to win.
4.5 QUALIFIED liberal/progressive candidates know that pissing off the state Democratic party could be the death of their political aspirations. Simply convincing a qualified candidate to primary an incumbent takes enormous skill. Convincing a qualified candidate to run as a member of a third-party, that has no history of fund raising or media access, is exponentially tougher.
4.5.1 One of the biggest traps for third-parties is that all the lousy candidates want to be YOUR candidate. That candidate then becomes the face of your third-party. If you can’t get a really good candidate, why go to all the work, just so they can sully your brand in the next election?
4.5.2 I always have a hard time time distinguishing a liberal/progressive third-party candidate from a Karl Rove/Dick Armey sock puppet. IMHO, that’s why it makes so much sense to start in Democratic primaries in heavy D districts. Rove and Armey can’t sneak their candidates into those districts.
4.5.3 I don’t recall any post at FDL calling to support a a national third party that adequately addressed for me the unions and minorities. All either group has is the federal government. I don’t see how any third-party can be successful without their support. From their perspective, why should they take a chance alienating the few friends they have left, with support of an unknown, untested, third party? African-American ghettos tend to be mostly accessible by AM radio and their churches. Unless you have good connections with those groups, most of those voters will vote a straight Democratic ticket. Without a working knowledge of Spanish, it’s tough to convince many Hispanic voters against voting a straight Democratic ticket.
4.5.4 GOTV (get out the vote) is a huge part of any election. Without the unions and the minority groups, from where do third-party candidates get their GOTV resources?
5. IMHO, anyone who wants to invest in a third-party should take a long hard look at Strom Thurmond and Bart Stupak.
5.1 George Wallace started a third-party, but it was Thurmond and Jesse Helms who led the fight for “white” supremacy from within the two-party system. Given the very segregated America in which we now live, I think you’d have to say they were very successful.
5.2 In the vote on Obamacare, Bart Stupak (D-MI) leveraged hard core anti-choice legislators from both sides of the aisle to score a stunning victory over choice.
IMHO, we need liberals and progressive with the skill and guts of Bart Stupak.
It’s possible that upcoming House votes on the debt ceiling offer up such an opportunity for the Progressive Caucus. I would be shocked, if they actually achieved anything, but Stupak just showed how much leverage a small, but determined group can have.
6. I make a hard distinction between national and local Democratic parties. In Wisconsin, I’ve seen how much damage the Koch Brothers and the places like the 1/2 a billion dollar Bradley Foundation can do. Over time they have gotten wingnut lawyers elected to the state Supreme Court. They control the local media and right now they control all three branches of the state government.
Until it can be a force in state and local elections, I would invite those who want to start a national third-party movement to stay involved with your state and local Democratic party.
Third-parties have been a crucial player in U.S. politics. I know how important the threat of a third-party is to our current duopoly.
We can never drop the threat.
Actually forging a third-party in a few heavy Democratic districts, however, takes a lot of skill, effort, and money.
7. I apologize if I have offended anyone, that certainly was not my intention. Among a litany of serious transgressions, Obama has routinely violated his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. My decision to vote for him in 2012 is not an easy one.