The following was posted Friday on Daily Kos, getting over 120 comments and 12 recs. I figured I was walking into a hostile crowd, and I wasn’t disappointed, but the dynamics were instructive. Within minutes, the Obamacrat wolf packs descended, having caught “Obama … primaried” like a red flag to a bull. After that, the level of support steadily grew, though still a respectable minority. Call it market research. The two main points that drew support were the excerpts from the platform, and the merits of a regular citizen daring to run out of nowhere against the powers-that-be and their supporters in the Democratic Party.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Russ Feingold challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Bernie Sanders challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Elizabeth Warren challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Howard Dean challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Dennis Kucinich challenged Obama in the Democratic primaries?
Well, they aren’t. Aldous Tyler is. He describes himself thus:
I am what I am – a 39 year old longtime activist, husband, father, who has lived almost his whole life in the Great Lakes region of America, from Detroit to Minneapolis to Madison. Professionally speaking, I’m a worker who is fortunate enough to have two paying jobs (on top of my volunteer radio program) to work in this economy. I’ve worked most of my time in the copy and print industry, with additional forays into web design, database management, technical support and industrial equipment resale.
Tyler has announced. He is raising the $5,000 to file with the FEC and launch his ballot access effort, and he has begun to campaign. Now progressives have to deal with it.
Diary after diary here laments the shortcomings of the Obama regime — from bailing out Wall Street, to failure to promote a program for DIRECT (i.e., not Reaganite trickle-down) job creation, to putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, to gutting environmental protections, to outdoing George Bush in his assault on civil liberties to bloat the imperial presidency. And yes, to miring us in pursuit of Mideastern wars without end. We all know this litany and more.
And, and, and … we have to support Obama no matter what. Sigh.
Where he stands
Says Aldous Tyler, “No, we don’t!” He supports the Unified Progressive Platform developed by the New Progressive Alliance (NPA), which calls for:
1. Peace First: … We therefore oppose war as an instrument of foreign policy, and support an overarching commitment to nonintervention in foreign lands. We call for the complete and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and all other regional conflicts; the immediate dissolution of private security contracts for these conflicts, and the immediate cessation of payments to private contractors who are in any way associated with these conflicts …
2. Full Employment at a Living Wage: … permanent, WPA-style jobs program wherein, when possible, public sector jobs are “green” jobs, or others which contribute to a more positive future for all. All work must pay at a minimum a local living wage that covers basic needs including food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, childcare, and transport … Alternatively, a universal basic income or federal guaranteed livable income, implemented via an earned income credit or negative income tax, could be used to ensure a minimum standard of living.
3. Saving the Environment: … science-based policies to curb and mitigate the effects of climate change … building an efficient low-cost public transportation system; adoption of a national zero waste policy … clean, green jobs based on renewable energy, energy conservation, organic agriculture, local food production/distribution, mass transit, waste management/recycling.
4. A Real Social Safety Net: strengthening, expanding, and protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance by any means necessary … We propose to expand the real social safety net to the benefit of all Americans through raising taxes primarily on corporations and the wealthy.
5. Medicare for All: … We support Medicare for All as the single most effective approach to cutting runaway healthcare costs, and providing high-quality health care for all Americans.
6. Fair Trade: … reformulation of all international trade relations and commerce practices in order to protect the labor, human rights, economy, environment, and domestic industry of this nation, and those of partner and recipient nations.
7. Human Rights/Civil Liberties: … We are dedicated to protecting, respecting, and expanding the rights and civil liberties of all citizens … We further support ending criminal prohibitions on the use and sale of marijuana … end to the so-called War on Drugs … The USA PATRIOT Act … must be repealed … close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
8. Election Reform: We support full public financing of elections in order to remove undue influence from political campaigns. Further, we recognize and are committed to ending the myriad opportunities for fraud which now exist in our electoral system.
9. Corporate Accountability/Reform: We must reduce the economic and political clout of corporations, improve corporate citizenship, increase executive responsibility, and require corporations to serve society and democracy while safeguarding the environment.
10. Infrastructure Investment/Ownership:We support the establishment of a publicly funded infrastructure bank to capitalize large-scale physical projects and direct funding toward associated research and development.
Tyler is not the candidate of the NPA, which would require their primary candidate to back an independent candidate in the generals. Rather he sees as his goal “to raise up a unified Progressive fist of America to smash the wholly-owned GOP irreparably. That will leave a power vacuum that a truly Progressive party can then fill.”
Yes, let’s get real
But, some will howl, this guy is a nobody! This isn’t serious, he can’t win, the media won’t cover him … Yeah, that last one is a killer. We can only back someone who has the stamp of legitimacy of the very mainstream media that has served us so well. Funny how so-called progressives can dismiss a common citizen running for office, even if that office is the lofty one of the presidency. Well, if that’s your measure of credibility, of seriousness, then we don’t have much to talk about. But in my opinion, the measure of seriousness is the ability to get on the ballot.
For 28 states that I could gather info on, here are the requirements in signatures and fees:
All 28 states: 71,900 signatures, filing fees $11,700. Population 125,677,351
For 23 states with signature requirements, 71,900 signatures. Population 112,455,836
For 9 states with filing fees, $11,700. Population 24,020,112
For 20 states with signature requirements, 43,900 signatures, plus $6,700. Population 89,232,343
For 10 states with signature requirements, 7,300 signatures plus $3,500. Population 35,000,000
3 states can be picked up for $4,000 in filing fees. Population almost 6,000,000.
Why not all 50? Many states have caucus systems, or presidential preference primaries which are non-binding, with the final nominee determined by party state convention.
But as you can see, the requirements per state are generally not formidable. Even going for ballot access in 10 states, you have a population of 35 million, and for 20 states, almost 90 million people. Voters from these states will walk into the voting booth, maybe not even knowing that Obama has a challenger, and they will see that name Aldous C. Tyler under president. It is a primary. There is no Republican (if they’re in the Dem primary) next to Obama. Just some “other guy.” And whatever philosophical feelings they may have about lesser-evils, they’re not happy with Obama. And they’ll vote Tyler.
10 states? 20 states? More? Millions of voters will have this chance to vote against Obama, those informed about the Tyler campaign will have a chance to vote for someone who is for THEM, and Beltway pseudo-reality be damned. This will be the moment they will be heard.
Those progressive campaign junkies who flit from campaign to campaign hustling for their next gig, nothing for them. And the pundits who pretend not to care, who espouse Beltway reality for a living, they will sneer if they say anything at all. But they will take note, because taking note is what they get paid for.
More importantly, progressives will take note. The 3rd party candidates may get swamped in the general elections, but those who are serious about progressive politics will have a chance to see that there is something out there. They’ll see that if people have a choice and aren’t terrified that the Republicans will eat their grandmothers, those voters will make that progressive choice.
Toward critical mass
There are (at least) two ways of looking at power. Pundits and Democratic politicians purport to claim that the majority is sacrosanct. 50% + 1 is the be-all and end-all, and the millions who support the 50% – 1 are rendered invisible, meaningless, even illegitimate. But the Tea Party doesn’t give a damn about majorities. They think in terms of critical mass. If they have enough people to do something based on their ideology — whether it’s jamming a town hall meeting or kamikaze primarying Republicans who deviate from the party line — they do it, and they do it, and they do it.
One must admit they’ve been rather effective in transforming Congress and, more importantly, the terms of our national dialogue, wouldn’t you think? They have Obama, sitting in the White House, speaking their language, meeting their terms, terrified of offending their very arch-enemies.
So the Tyler campaign is one step, even a small step, in progressives beginning to change the terms of the discussion, of giving voice to the millions and millions who stand afraid, watching the bi-partisan juggernaut strip them of their jobs, their sons and daughters, and their civil liberties.
A step towards progressive critical mass.