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Matt Gonzalez

Ralph Nader's running mate, Matt Gonzalez at the 2004 Green Party convention raises an important question. Are you as a Democrat willing to work for a fair voting system, one that doesn't treat those who choose to vote for someone other than a major party candidate as un-American. And if not how can you in good conscience complain when a third party candidate plays the role of a spoiler. (tip to Aaron)




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Matt Gonzales was a shitty supervisor, and he almost became mayor of San Francisco. As a small business owner, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he lost the race to Gavin Newsom. This was a good speech, and the spoiler issue is indeed unfortunate. I never voted for a Democrat or a Republican until I voted for Kerry in '04. Bush changed everything, and I won't risk giving the white house to the Republicans this time.

Go Obama.

Are you as a Democrat willing to work for a fair voting system, one that doesn't treat those who choose to vote for someone other than a major party candidate as un-American.

It's not about the system. It's about the coalition. Nader tried to fracture the coalition of the left. That wouldn't lead to more progressive policies it would lead to more conservative ones. I am all for third parties, with one prerequisite, the right goes first.

in good conscience complain when a third party candidate

Check out the website. Nader is not supporting or supported by a party. He is an independent.

The part I found interesting was when democrats actually OPPOSED instant runoff voting in Alaska. That's like saying that they actually want the elections to be undemocratic.

Have you heard Obama or Hillary ever even talk about this? As I recall, they both used the Nader spoiler rhetoric rather than actually addressing the underlying systemic problem. They will continue to put the blame on 3rd parties rather than on themselves for inaction or flat out opposition.

alright, go matt. he's a good voice to add to all this. plus i've met the guy. during his run against newsom for san francisco mayor. he was out in front of city lights books during an event there, and was gracious and kind when my girlfriend and i approached him. nothing like a personal impression, and mine was good. i also agree with him on a lot of issues, and i think it will be helpful to have him in the mix. it wont mess up obama, that's hogwash. too much momentum there. i am voting for obama, for example, even volunteering my time and money to help get him the nomination and then the white house. but i am glad nader and gonzales are going to agitate the broth. g'nite.

I'm from Australia, one of the countries Matt cites as having the option of preferences for parties / candidates. We also have compulsory voting but that's another story! The result does often end up like the detailed example he gave, where one party may not receive more direct votes than another but through preferences they still get in. Australia is basically a two party system with the divide between the conservative Liberals and the (slightly more) socialist Labour Party. When I, as most of my friends and family do, cast my vote for the much smaller Greens party, we are confident that even though they won't get in our vote is not wasted, as it will likely count in favour of the Labour Party and against the conservative Liberal Party. In that way, we can show our preference for a candidate but not make our vote "worthless". HOWEVER - the two party system dominates media and national discourse to the point where other parties are barely discussed. The outcome is always the same too - one of the big parties gets in, and the little guys miss out. It is not representative, and it does not feel like a democracy. I'm committed to voting for a third party as a protest against the monopoly the big parties have. Sometimes I wonder, what if everyone really did think a bit more and vote for a party / candidate that they truly supported, instead of voting how their family does or worse, having to compromise their values and vote for one party just so the other doesn't get in. Because of the system, not the voter, this is often the only choice that we can make. That is not a democracy in my opinion. I've heard rumours that Sweden or another Nordic country has a very representative government? One that more truly reflects the balance of opinions of the population?

quite a few less comments here than the nader entry...

HOWEVER - the two party system dominates media and national discourse to the point where other parties are barely discussed. The outcome is always the same too - one of the big parties gets in, and the little guys miss out. It is not representative, and it does not feel like a democracy.
The biggest reason I should think for it not feeling like a democracy, is that the Governor-General of Australia is an appointee of the "Queen of Australia" (aka, the Queen of England). I realize that in practice, the Queen chooses whomever the parliament tells her to, but even still, I would find that situation to be entirely unacceptable.

I think Australia's preferential voting system provides a good case study and a warning to those wanting to adopt preferential voting systems. Preferential voting can be too onerous for the voter if the system requires voters to rank too many candidates. In Australia over 90% of the voters end up voting: "above-the-line". In other words, for practical reasons, they end up voting for a single party's group voting ticket. You can't rank your order of preferred "group ticket", and so, in effect, you end up with a single ballot voting system again. That's why there's still an entrenched two party system in Australia. In effect, their still voting using a traditional ballot.

It's not about the system. It's about the coalition. Nader tried to fracture the coalition of the left.

There is no coalition of the left. If there were, impeachment would be on the table. If there were, Democrats would not have voted in overwhelming numbers to support this war. If there were, Kucinich wouldn't be about to lose his seat.

There is a coalition of not the right, but that is not the same thing as a coalition of the left.

Further, neither the existence or non-existence of a coalition on the left is a good reason to not have Instant Runoff Voting (or some variant which also addresses the concerns expressed in this video.)

Further, neither the existence or non-existence of a coalition on the left is a good reason to not have Instant Runoff Voting

Hell yes there is.

You have a run off election with 2 right wing candidates and 5 left wing candidates you could have a McCain and a Romney to choose from in a general.

That would be democracy in action.

And the Democrats screaming "Think of the Republicans, don't dare vote for who you'd prefer" is democratic?

Fuck that.

And the Democrats screaming "Think of the Republicans, don't dare vote for who you'd prefer" is democratic?

Fuck that.

If leftists want to vote for people that will never get elected that's their prerogative, but in any democracy you need a coalition of different points of view that work together to compromise and advance all their positions in a way they can all agree.

What you seem to advocating is a dictatorship of the left. Outside a coalition, that is the only way that a candidate that represents the views of 15% of the people can become the national leader.

Fuck that.

RedSeven,

You must have skipped over the part of the video where Gonzales shows how IRV would have helped the republicans get the votes they needed.

This isn't a partisan or bipartisan issue. This is a nonpartisan issue that advocates voter rights for everyone with true democracy that demands a majority vote.

Right. Enfranchising voters and run-off voting only embolden the terorrists.

Ppptt.

My point:

The democrats care far, far more about winning elections than they do about any issue or collection of issues. That they take consistent stands on issues at all is simply a symptom of the impact this has on their electability them to be marginally better than the Republicans where they differ.

They have the option of creating voting systems which will allow voters to indicate their strongest preference without risking that their second strongest preference, who happens to be more likely to become elected, will lose to someone else.

Not only have they repeatedly chosen not to do this, they have taken overt steps to remove these options. Once, a majority of states allowed someone to cast their vote as "Socialists backing Gore" or whatever, and those votes would be tabulated and Gore would probably get a majority. Democrats, by and large, got rid of that.

The democrats care far, far more about winning elections than they do about any issue or collection of issues.

If you don't care about winning elections, you can't care about issues.

Democrats have taken some rather consistent changes. Education for one, They stood agains republicans that wanted to eliminate the education administration for decades. Pro-Union, Pro Civil rights, Pro-Choice. Those issues are mostly established and centrist now, so they need to attack some new ones.

And, I all for pushing the Party to the left. But that isn't about losing federal elections by splintering the coalition. The republicans are about to do just that and it might mean more progressive victoiries in the next 10 years then in the history of the US.

nce, a majority of states allowed someone to cast their vote as "Socialists backing Gore"

Both parties tried to get rid of stuff like this because they try to hide the wings of their party so they can take the center.

I completely agree that it is wrong. That it limits the scope of the debate, but the solution is in election reforms and primary fights and local and congressional elections.

Not in presidential fights where any small split in the coalition can have catastrophic effects.

Right. Enfranchising voters and run-off voting only embolden the terorrists.

No George bush emboldens the terrorists, voting without acknowledging the consequences just gets people like him elected.

Democrats have taken some rather consistent changes. Education for one,

Which is why they've eliminated the reviled No Child Left Behind Act... oh wait, they haven't.

Pro-Union, Pro Civil rights, Pro-Choice.

How hard would I really have to look to find Democrtats opposed to choice, Democrats who had served on Walmart's board of directors, or Democrats who take positions at odds with civil rights?

Not very.

No George bush emboldens the terrorists, voting without acknowledging the consequences just gets people like him elected.

Not changing voting systems also has consequences.

The Democrats serve up shit on a shingle, and you claim to like the taste. Next year, they won't even include the shingle just because the Republicans are spooning out smellier shit.

If you don't like the fact that votes for candidates other than Democrats who have little chance of achieving elected office harm Democrats, you can change the rules by which elections run.

I live in Massachusetts... I can vote however I like in every election from dogcatcher on up, and it won't make a bit of difference.

If the Democrats -actually- had Progressives, impeachment and leaving Iraq wouldn't be 'off the table.'

They're cowards and turncoats, and just because I prefer a coward to a mentally retarded fascist doesn't mean I'm not allowed to aspire to better.

How hard would I really have to look to find Democrtats opposed to choice, Democrats who had served on Walmart's board of directors, or Democrats who take positions at odds with civil rights?

Not very.

Exactly, It's a coalition. I am for making it a more liberal one. For Kicking the DLC assholes to the curb and letting some progressives actually speak their mind, but any good thing the left gets done will need to be done with the cooperation of some Moderates.

Not changing voting systems also has consequences.

Hey, lets reform that;s a good thing. But if super liberals find themselves voting for the perfect liberal candidate someday, it will be part of a losing election. That gets nobody nowhere

How about those 3rd party candidates start a little smaller, maybe win a governor's or Senate race? Then I will take them seriously. As for Nader, its all about his ego, he thinks he's the best candidate but in our election process that means little. He has to win there is nothing for 2nd place. Look Al Gore got more votes and didn't win, what did it get him? Nothing.

It's not Nader that decides who the best candidate is. It's the people that vote. And the people that vote should be able to vote how they want. If this wasn't a problem you wouldn't be yelling at Nader, you'd be yelling at the people voting.

Also, there will always be a 3rd party. And when you have crap candidates and a ruined election system, you have a low voter turnout. So stop blaming this on Nader's ego and demand election reform from your candidate. If they don't listen and earn your vote, go and vote for someone that will so your demands will never fall on deaf ears again.

Since when is it absurd to have basic demands of our candidates? You are voting against democracy by voting for anyone against or apathetic to election reform.

user-pic

This country needs an enema. Nader is the nozzle.

I, too, was going to vote for Nader until it was apparent it was too close. Voting for who you want is a great ideal, but consider two things I haven't seen raised yet:

a) Nader denounced the "Nader Trader" business in 2000. This was a sound concept, which would have worked well in my case. I would've been more than happy to vote Nader for my brethren in a contentious place like Florida. We needed the Greens to get at least 5% AND we needed a Bush defeat. Nader kept poo-pooing the whole concept instead of giving it traction.

b) anyone remember Nader's unguarded moment during the "Outside" magazine interview, when he said he;d prefer a Bush victory (supposedly because it would galvanize activism in the populace)?

http://dir.salon.com/story/news/col/cona/2000/10/24/nader/

Well... I lay it on Ralph's doorstep. The Green's never got their 5%. The repugs got all 3 branches of gov't, which is apparently what Ralph wanted too. What Ralph did not get was significant public activism. Whoops.

Fuck Ralph. He, and others, need to work within the system to change our election laws and how our campaigns are financed... not keep repeating the mantra about how both parties are equally bad. The consequences for us AND the world are just too severe, and history has shown this.

"What Ralph did not get was significant public activism."

Well, the majority of people don't care enough to cause any trouble, and the Democrats don't encourage that because they seem to benefit from the status quo, so yea, I don't see how its his fault any of that happened.

Carmen... it does not matter whose fault anything is. That's not the point.

It only matters what the consequences are. The real world of 2-party voting ensures that your voice will never be heard if all you do is vote... or mail a $25 check off to the ACLU (although that's not a bad thing).

Conflating R's and D's into one big bad boat without a viable alternative in place is dangerous. Ruinous.

Jeez. Next post, I'll come clean. Common folks are left gaming the system, and perhaps the smartest ones are just staying home. (gasp)

can't get through this silly ass system to make a few points. I give up, Norm. Keep getting 406 errors.

What kind of party purposefully fails to fix the system and then audaciously blames the voters? And it's okay to vote for them still?

Also, we need to do our part. There's is no room to complain about the system unless we vote for the people that will fix it. This includes talking to people that don't vote or don't consider inaction on election reform into account when they do vote.

In the end what I want is a system that:

-Will change every election, but not to radically.

-That has the potential for radical change, if you can mobilize the entire citizenry, and still not break.

I do not want a system that swings to wildly and has the potential to break under stress.

IRV is fine from this point of view. It's not going to end the stability of the two parties. But there are strange catch 22 situations in IRV and which lead to people voting tactically and not for their 'first' choice. It is not a perfect system.

I look at these parties as coalitions. It's basically the IRV system front loaded. I'm not a Democrat because I hate Republicans, or that I love Democrats. I am a Democrat because that coalition represents interest that I think need to have their voices amplified. Labor, environmentalist, atheists, peace activists, and gay and lesbian rights, have all loosely come together under the Democratic coalition and I think they need to be heard.

You want to pull both parties towards a 3rd parties values? Register with that party, join organizations that represent your values, all you have to do is get yourself on the political radar and get involved. It's not rocket science.

Without the tool of IRV though, it's hard to stand a chance. Even with IRV it may be difficult as 3rd parties get locked out of the debates that get the coverage for the votes they need. Election finance reform and ridding the US of the electoral college are other issues.

Even gifted politicians don't stand a chance now without IRV, except to get enough votes to spoil. There are candidates out there, but they need a fair infrastructure first before they can run. We need to talk this up as an issue dems ignore in order to blame Nader. When spoiler comes up, IRV and the dem apathy needs to be our response.

RedSeven

But if super liberals find themselves voting for the perfect liberal candidate someday, it will be part of a losing election.

Fuck liberals. I'm a leftist. I can tell bad from worse, but both sides are pimping for neoliberal globalism and their corporate masters.

Aaron:

Labor, environmentalist, atheists, peace activists, and gay and lesbian rights, have all loosely come together under the Democratic coalition and I think they need to be heard.

Pete Stark and... whom? The Democrats don't have your back on this one.

Awesome. Just awesome to see this going on in America.

Every time a Democratic supporter bitches and moans about Nader you should send them a link to this video clip.

Electoral reform is, surely, the most pressing issue for American politics today! And if Democrats and their supporters aren't interested then they should be called up on their bullshit.

Incidentally, I think Matt gets it wrong when he suggests winner takes all voting has been to the Democrat's advantage "sometimes".

In fact it's always advantageous because in reality the Democrats are not so much a party in their own right but more a different wing of the same party; the Republicans of course being the other wing.

This sort of analysis, I find, is typical of someone involved in party politics though. Such a cynical view tends to turn one away from party politics.

Fuck liberals. I'm a leftist. I can tell bad from worse, but both sides are pimping for neoliberal globalism and their corporate masters.

Yep, So vote against the DLC and Hillary and every douche bag they put up. Nader isn't going to change shit.

Pete Stark and... whom? The Democrats don't have your back on this one.

Ok. Let's play a game. It's called "The Pressing Issue."

Object of the game: Form a coalition of organizations, communities, and individuals that all agree on the top 5 pressing issues of the day.

...

Election reform, environmental policy reform, global warming, abortion, constitutional reform, gay marriage, farm subsidies , trade imbalances, human rights violations, foreign wars, civil rights...

I want my issue to be #1 on YOUR list all the time and for you to vote the way I want every time on that issue, or I'm taking my ball and going home.

There is the way things are and they way you want them to be. Vote on who you think will be the better leader, and join organizations and groups to lobby the living hell out of the winner. Voting is and important part of the equation but it's a small part.

Bummer that I missed the thread on 3rd party candidates, and that has gone off the posting radar.

Gonzalez is right about pushing for election reform. The electoral college is a dinosaur - maybe dodo bird is a better classification.

Until that goes away (and I've posted before supporting irv or another system and clean elections), I vote strategically. Iowa is a swing state for presidential elctions, so Democrat it is. Last mid-term election i voted for the most liberal candidates on the ballot, unless I was concerned that going socialist or green would pave the way for a GOP victory in that office. Then I went Democrat. Too bad about the governor's office; I was too new to the state to realize we'd be better off bashing a neo-con than Culver (another story). In the other cases, things worked out well for me.

No, I don't blame Nader, but I don't feel that his presidential candidacy is genuine. It's been bandied about all ready - why not go for a smaller office and work up if you're serious about being president? Since Nader does his four year dance with consistency, the run for pres really does seem more and more about him, and less about democracy in action.

My views basically match the Green party views. how I'd love to be able to amp up local politics with some Greens in office. If they were effective, then I'd give them support as they pushed their way through the system. I know enough liberals around town who would do the same.

As for the debates, does any one else miss the League of Women Voters? That's the last time a 3rd party candidate was in a televised debate (Perot) and the candidates got much more fair play. I think the events also qualified as debates and not press conferences.

I'm not sure you're appreciating the difficulty of getting elected as a third party, even at the local level. Gonzalez in other places has spoken of the democratic party getting Gore to come to San Fransisco in order to get the local dem mayor elected. The dems do NOT want a green in power, anywhere, period. Add this to already established dem power and then add not having IRV . . . now that's almost impossible.

Part of Nader's strategy, which Gonzalez is espousing, is that the dems will never work to get you the fair voting you want, so you have to tell them that you've had enough not only with their posing as a progressive, but also with purposefully rigging your democracy through antiquated voting methods and bullying off candidates.

You also mention a very good point with the debate, a total sham. It is co-run by dem and repub corporate lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and gambling industries, rigs questions, blockades real debate, restricts from other gen election debates, and puts up huge barriers to third parties thereby limiting voices. No leading dem is standing up to this either, including Obama. They're all complacent and laughing in all our faces about it.

Yes, it's difficult for 3rd parties to get elected anywhere, but it's easier to convince a small localized group than a large national diverse crowd.

And, now that I think about it, I'm not to blame for Culver; his election wasn't in contention and I went with the Socialist. Not that it matters...

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