NY Progressives have more options than just the Democrats

Folks concerned with the Conservativism of the Bush years have much to be excited about today with the impending election of Democrat Barack Obama. Sitting in the Democratic stronghold of urban Syracuse, one cannot help but feel the excitement and energy.

But, I want to ask: is it the case that, as the Democratic partisans say, voting for Barack Obama on the Democratic line is the only option and that doing anything else would be tantamount to voting for John McCain? I would like to point out two distinct New York options that may allow us to make a stronger point with our votes that won’t affect the chances of Mr. Obama’s success.

It does not hurt to point out that we work in a winner-take-all Electoral College system. I am firmly opposed to this form of elections, but, since that’s the way the system works at this particular moment, we have to work with what we’ve got.

Here in Upstate New York, we are attached at the hip to the great City of New York. As such, we have gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1984 when Walter Mondale only won Minnesota. In the infamous 2000 election, Ralph Nader received 3.58% of the vote in New York (compared to his national average of 2.7%) and Al Gore still carried New York with 60.21% of the vote (compared to 35.23% for Bush!). That comes out to a little less than 2 million more votes. Even here in Onondaga County, where Bush garnered 41.1% of the vote and Nader 3.8%, Gore still won an absolute majority of 54.0%!! Source

This election promises to be even more heavily dominated locally by the Democratic Party. Simply put, this frees us liberally-minded folk to follow our dreams not our fears.

Why vote Nader-Gonzalez? I have chosen to cast my vote with them over Barack Obama for a few reasons.

(1) A key cornerstone of this campaign has been election reform. More than just new voting machines, we’re talking about reformulating our antiquated system of winner-take-all elections to utilize the more democratic forms of elections. Americans are deeply disenchanted with the two party system (just look at the number of independents) and its time we open the door to other options like they do in every European country, our Canadian neighbors and in much of the rest of the world.
(2)The Nader-Gonzalez Campaign, unlike that of Obama (who supports unilateral attacks on Pakistan, for instance) is against Neo-imperial policies of the United States, both economically and militarily. Where are the criticisms of the brutality of the World Bank, IMF and similar agencies in the mainstream debate?
(3)Their campaign, further, has approached our economic crisis by saying that we need to aid the American people, not Wall Street bankers. Moreover, they know that a strong labor movement is the only way to protect working people

I favor the Nader-Gonzalez campaign over that of the similar policies of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente because of the wider public acknowledgement of Nader and what he stands for. It appears that Nader will garner his largest electoral support yet and this will give a strong message to those in power that these issues will not go away, no matter how many inspiring speeches one gives about ‘hope’.

That is the real power of a Nader-Gonzalez vote. It states that Leftist politics are here to stay and that there are fundamental problems with the two party system itself that cannot be solved by any candidate from within them.

For those who have problems with Nader-Gonzalez, McKinney-Clemente, who want to vote Obama-Biden but want to send a direct message, we are fortunate here in New York to benefit from fusion voting. In a fusion system, a candidate can be endorsed by numerous parties and when the votes are tallied, votes from different party lines are added together to come to the total for the candidate.

This means that little parties, such as the Liberals, Right-to-Life and Working Families can make a difference by courting voters around a specific set of issues. By voting for Barack Obama (for example) on the Working Families line (“Working Families Party Endorses Barack Obama"), your vote still “counts” but you are sending a message that the issues of the WF party are those that you share—you are not some mythical “centralist” “swing” voter who can be courted by moving the Democratic position to the Right.

The Working Families Party—who will be getting my vote on a number of local candidates—support many progressive issues glossed over by the Democrats including:

(1)Public Transportation
(2)Single Payer, Universal Health Care and Paid Family Leave
(3)Clean Elections through Public Financing

In previous years, I have made a point of not voting and making my reasons for doing so known on this blog (Here’s the 2006 statement I made). While I do not regret those decisions in previous years, I do plan on voting come Tuesday. However, I hope that I’ve shown that there are numerous options to make a more pointed statement with your vote, to say more through your ballot.

-by Jesse


York Staters said...

If you're from beyond Upstate New York think about the:

Vermont Progressive Party (http://www.progressiveparty.org/)

and the Working Families Party exists in Connecticut, South Carolina and Oregon where fusion voting also exists.


Anonymous said...

Vote Green next time Jesse and build a real movement for justice.

York Staters said...

I did vote Green, for Howie Hawkins for Congress and I am a registered, card carrying, member of the Green Party. Every vote is strategic and I thought that a Nader vote would resonate more. I was disappointed with the McKinney campaign and thought about the options deeply beforehand.