By Royce Carlson
Now that the mid-term election is over in the U.S. and the
Democratic Party has lost ground in Congress, what strategies should be adopted
by the left to prepare for the elections in 2004? Here are some of my thoughts
and ideas on this.
The political center is not static. The Bush administrationís approach is
to come on strongly right and then slowly let the opposition push him toward
the center. For example, when he first took office he said he was going to try
to repeal almost everything Clinton tried to do for the environment during his
last months in office. Over the next few months, Bush received a lot of
opposition from the environmentalist community and eventually ended up leaving
some of Clintonís work in place. So, things did not end up as bad as they
could have been, but they still ended up bad for the environment.
Bush came on strong against Iraq with his threat of immediate unilateral
military action, but over time, has conceded to involve the United Nations. A
war still appears imminent, however. In this way, Bush and the Republican Party
are moving the center toward the right and the Democrats are following the
center rather than holding their own. The liberal
Democrats campaigned as if they were moderate Republicans.
The Democrats need to change their strategy and they need help. Those on the
political left may be able to help the Democrats by joining the Green Party. I
know it sounds strange, but there is a reason behind this idea.
The political system in the U.S. is designed to prevent a third party from
ever getting power. Congress has the power to change our voting system but has
absolutely no incentive to do it since it would threaten the two-party system
by making it easier for third parties to get elected. The winner-takes-all
voting system insures that only the two existing parties continue. In the 2000
election, a vote for Ralph Nader was considered by many as a vote for Bush in
the states that had close elections. How many additional people would have
voted for Nader if that vote didnít end up counting against Gore? Because of
this system, the election results of third party candidates are terrible -
usually under 4%. This does not send any kind of message to the parties in
Although no oneís supposed to know how any individual votes, it is public
knowledge how people are registered. If a lot of people joined the Green Party
over the next two years, that could begin to send a message to the Democrats to
move back left. Just because you are a Green Party member does not mean that
you canít vote for another party in the general election. Somehow the message
must get to the Democrats that they are leaving a lot of people behind by
chasing the center that the Republicans keep moving.
Over 50 percent of eligible Americans did not vote in the last election. Who
are they and why are they not voting? This should be a first step for the
leadership of the Green Party (or the Democratic Party, for that matter.) They
should learn about who the non-voters are and find out what issues are
important to them. Candidates in the next election should focus their attention
on rousing the interest of the non-voting public.
Voter participation has declined pretty steadily since 1960. There was a
brief peak when Ross Perot ran for president as an independent. Why? He was
interesting, charismatic, and was not spewing forth the same centrist oatmeal
that comes out of the mouths of most Democratic and Republican candidates. He
was different and that appealed to a lot of people. Although I did not agree
with Perotís politics, I did appreciate his approach. For 2004, we need charismatic
candidates who speaks their minds. We need mavericks to attract the
attention of those who donít vote. We need someone who is a real choice.
Pressure from the left may force the Democrats to come up with more interesting
candidates than they have been coming up with lately.
If you are a regular voter, and your views are
more left than right, join the Green Party or any other left-leaning political
party and get your friends to do it, too. Jumping ship on the Democrats is an
easy way to shake up the system and make politics more interesting again in the
United States. It is also possible that third party candidates could begin to
win more city, county, and state seats as a result of this effort. These
efforts will send a message to the major parties where the political center
really is and help America to become a better democracy.
You can reprint articles on the Zenzibar web site for free.
I am happy to help provide content for
your publication as long as I get credit.
To use an article in a print
publication you must credit the author and Zenzibar Alternative
Culture as the source, and include the web site address.
To republish a Zenzibar article on
your web site you must credit the author and Zenzibar Alternative
Culture as the source and include a clickable link to Zenzibar at http://zenzibar.com Please tell
me if you are going to
reprint an article by e-mailing me
and mentioning the name of the article and where and when it will be
To link to the article on
Zenzibar's site you can do a text link without any restrictions (you
don't even have to tell me, but it would be nice to know).
If you want to use the image
associated with the article you are welcome to use it as long as you
don't change it or use it in any way other than to link to the article
at Zenzibar. Also, please tell me if you are going to use the graphic. If you have any questions, please