Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two Good Reasons Why The Greens May Not Vote For The Democratic Presidential Candidate In 2008

ONE OF THE lies Democrats tell themselves and others is that Ralph Nader was responsible for Al Gore's loss in 2000. In fact:

- Between mid-September and the election, Bush went up about 14 percent in the polls while Nader went up 1 percent.

- As late as two weeks before the election, Gore was 7-10 points ahead in the polls. During this period, Nader changed only one or two points.

- As Michael Eisencher reported in Z Magazine, 20% of all Democratic voters, 12% of all self- identified liberal voters and 31% of all voting union members cast their ballots for Bush. All these constituencies were much larger than the Greens'.

- According to exit polling, those who voted for Nader were disproportionately under 30, independent, first time voters, formerly Perot voters and of no organized religion. In other words, many of his voters did not naturally belong to the Democratic party. In fact, half as many Republicans as Democrats voted for Nader. Six percent of independents and 7% of Perot voters supported Nader while only 2% of Democrats did.

- Perhaps the most important, but seldom mentioned, factor in the outcome was the impact of the Clinton scandals. 68% of voters thought Clinton would go down in history more for his scandals than for his leadership. 44% said that the scandals were somewhat to very important and 57% thought the country to be on the wrong moral track. In short, the individual who did the most harm to Gore (aside from himself) was Bill Clinton. If Gore had distanced himself from the Clinton moral miasma he would probably be president today.

But let's ignore the Democrat's desperate denial and their arrogant presumption that Greens - unlike any other constituency in the country - were meant to vote for Gore without receiving anything in return. What could the Democrats have subsequently done to improve matters with the Greens?

- They could have made it easier, not harder, for third parties to be on the ballot.

- They could have supported instant runoff voting which would have greatly aided Gore in 2000.

- They could have promised Greens a few key posts in their cabinet.

In other words, they could have done what every other sensible party does in democratic countries with a multi-party system: be nice to the people whose votes you want.

Instead, here are two examples of how the Democrats have reacted to the third party challenge. It is disgusting, but it's also kind of stupid.

[Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent last time, has filed a suit challenging the behavior of the Democrats and labor unions against his election campaign. The following - from an interview with Nader attorney Carl Mayer - is from a Democracy Now broadcast)

CARL MAYER - The core of the lawsuit is that these lawyers, led by Toby Moffett and Elizabeth Holtzman, and something called the Ballot Project, which was a 527 organization, systematically went around the country and filed lawsuit after lawsuit, twenty-four in all, plus five FEC complaints, to try to completely remove the Nader campaign from the ballot and to, in effect, bankrupt the campaign, which they succeeded in doing (emphasis mine-Pete). Not content with that, one of the defendants, Reed Smith, which is a large corporate law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they are now going after Ralph Nader's personal bank account to make him pay some of the cost of this litigation.

And, understand, despite being outspent by the Democratic Party and its affiliated lawyers, the vast majority of these lawsuits were won by the Nader campaign, which was a largely volunteer effort. And these lawsuits were won across the country, despite this organized effort of intimidation and harassment. It's basically abusive process and malicious prosecution. Those are common law torts. And it was very clear from the beginning that the Democratic Party was using the legal system for an improper purpose. In fact, Toby Moffett, who's a former congressman from Connecticut, said directly to The Guardian of London in an interview in December of 2004, this wasn't about the law. "I'd be less than honest if I said" this was not about the law; this was about getting Ralph Nader off the ballot. And that's what this effort was about. And it's a shameful anti-democratic process by a party that claims to be a democratic party (emphasis mine-Pete).

And on top of that, the Democratic Party, or its allies, filed five FEC complaints against the campaign, alleging improper . . . funding, improper finances, etc. They were all dismissed by the FEC.

Now, let me tell you how bad it got. There was an organized effort of harassment of petitioners who went around trying to collect signatures for the Nader campaign in Ohio, in Oregon and in Pennsylvania. In Ohio, for example, lawyers were hired to call up petitioners and tell them that if they didn't verify the signatures on the petition, they would be guilty of a felony. They were called at home by -- and they were, in many cases, visited by private investigators and told -- this is voter intimidation of the worst order. . .

The SEIU was involved in trying to keep Nader off the ballot by using its members, for example in Oregon, to go into the convention, but in other states -- in other states, to try to actually void petitions by signing in the wrong place. The complaint -- and this is all documented. . . It's a seventy-three-page complaint, over 250 paragraphs, chapter and verse, about how, for example, the SEIU came up with the strategy of getting its members to go and write signatures in the wrong place on a petition, on Nader's petitions, which would then invalidate the entire petition. So this was a coordinated anti-democratic activity, which in my view has little precedent in American history, and any third-party candidate of whatever stripe -- leftwing, rightwing, populist, conservative -- they should be outraged by what occurred in this case.

And we think we have a tremendous case before the D.C. Superior Court and other legal actions we will take, because . . . they were so adamant and vociferous about it, and the paper trail is very clear. And we're not even into discovery. We can't wait to take the depositions of the party activists, Toby Moffett, Terry McAuliffe, Elizabeth Holtzman, etc., who were at the center of this. . .

It doesn't matter whether it's Ralph Nader or Michael Bloomberg or any other third-party candidate. The point is, we need as much competition in the political arena as we have in other areas of American life. And it's time to stop rigging the game.

And what's unbelievable is that the laws on the books already pose a tremendously high hurdle for third-party candidates. Tens of thousands of signatures, it takes, to get on the ballot in states like Texas and the Carolinas. And there's no other country where it's so difficult to get on the ballot. And those laws are passed by the Democrat and Republican Party to preserve their monopoly. . .

And recall also that in the history of the country, third parties were very important. In the nineteenth century, it was much easier to get on the ballot. The smaller third parties championed first important issues like ending slavery, women's right to vote, Social Security; those were all first advocated by third parties. And if you exclude third parties from the ballot and from the debate, our democracy withers and atrophies. . .

[In Maine, where Greens have been more successful than elsewhere, the Democrats have engaged in similar bad sport tactics. When a Green won the first state legislative seat in the country, the Democrats redistricted his seat. And it hasn't stopped. Remember these are the folks the Democrats are going to blame if they lose in 2008]

KELLEY BOUCHARD, PORTLAND PRESS HERALD - A well-known Portland Democrat has begun a campaign to oppose the election of Green Independent Party candidates in Tuesday's city election. Anthony Buxton, a founder of Democracy Maine and a leader of the state's Hillary Clinton campaign, has started putting up signs blaming Greens for problems on Portland's City Council and School Committee.

Buxton said he plans to post as many as 200 signs throughout Maine's largest city that read, "These Greens Cause Chaos." The signs show the last names of John Anton and Benjamin Meiklejohn crossed out in red. He filed a campaign expense report of $3,000 Tuesday at City Hall.

Anton is an at-large candidate for City Council. Meiklejohn is an at-large candidate seeking a third term on the School Committee.

Although the city's elections are nonpartisan, Greens recently have gained ground in Portland, where Democrats traditionally dominate.

Greens hold three of nine seats on the School Committee and two of nine seats on the City Council. Four Greens are among 14 candidates for a total of six open seats on the two panels.

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