Third Party & Independents Archives

Thinking Beyond the Two Party System

Hello, I’m new here, so as my first post, I’ll just give you a view into my own views on third party politics. This piece was originally published on various blogs in February 2010 (so some things have changed since then, but, in my opinion, it remains relevant). Enjoy, and please, let me know what you think.

I’m not going to pull any punches here. I detest the two party system. I believe that it undermines representative government. It makes our government more responsive to corporations than to citizens. It decreases the chances of progress and it results in many good ideas being shut out of the national political debate.

The limits imposed on this nation by the two party system are slowly leading to its demise. Partisan gridlock in Washington, outright corruption, the absurd difficulty of kicking out incumbents, corporate control of Washington, and the infamous backwardness of many local governments (among many things) are all symptoms of this same disease. And I do not use that language lightly.

Many have said that there is no difference between the two major parties. This is obviously false. However, they can accurately be described as two sides of the same corporatist coin. On one side of the coin, Republicans give away billions to the “defense” industry and appoint lobbyists to head government agencies and are just blatantly corrupt. And when you flip it over, Democrats…well, give away billions to the “defense” industry and appoint lobbyists to head government agencies and are just blatantly corrupt. Sure, there are many differences, too – Republicans generally support less regulation, Democrats tend to be pro-choice, Democrats are generally more supportive of health care reform attempts, and Republicans have recently turned into the party of Oppose Anything That Would Vindicate Obama. In the words of Bill Maher,

We have a center-right party and a crazy party. Over the last 30 years, the Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved into a mental hospital.

These are not great choices. And that’s the essence of the duopoly on politics: it limits voters’ choices to the point of them not having a very representative government. When they want climate change legislation, they get nothing. When they want single payer, they get nothing. When they want to end the war in Iraq, they get an increase of military contractors.

This limitation of choice is not a coincidence. And that brings me to my first bullet point…

Incumbent politicians – and their parties – are looking out for their own interests, not yours!

Basically what I’m saying here is that the two party system is not as much of a naturally occurring phenomenon as many people believe it is. There are many laws and practices in place that create a vicious cycle of third party failure. As election law expert Richard Winger points out,

The U.S. voter has less choice for whom to vote than his great-grandfather did.

Although the U.S. has made great strides during the 20th century in enfranchising citizens who formerly were denied the right to vote (women, blacks, poor people), we have been losing ground on the parallel problem of what choice a voter has, once he gets a ballot.

In the 1896 general election, every single congressional district in the nation had at least two candidates on the ballot. The average district had 3.1 candidates on the ballot.

In the 1912 general election, the average election ballot had 4.1 candidates for Congress. But in 1984, there were only 2.3 candidates for Congress on the typical general election ballot, and one-ninth of the districts (49 out of 435) had only one candidate on the ballot.

The modern-day voter’s choice is even more limited in state legislative races. In 1984 6,881 seats were at stake. An astounding 2,815 (41 percent) had only one candidate per position on the ballot.

In some important states, such as Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida, over half of the legislators were elected with no one on the ballot against them.

The blame for the declining number of choices on our ballots can be laid squarely at the feet of state legislators. Many of them have made it far too difficult for candidates to get on the ballot.

These laws and practices include, but are not limited to:

Ballot access laws. These are laws that set up varying benchmarks that a candidate must meet in order to appear on the ballot. They differ from state to state and from office to office and are harshest against third party candidates. Other than a cursory rule for candidates to register for the ballot, it’s unclear what the purpose of these laws are, other than restricting competition and keeping incumbents safe. As Daily Kos user Big Tex states (I highly encourage you to read the whole piece),

The ballot access barrier isn’t the only tool that the Republican/Democratic duopoly has used to maintain its hold on political power, but it has been one of the most important and effective tools in their arsenal. And their control over the workings of the American political system has had an observable degrading effect on democracy in this country: what was once a relatively robust political system with viable minor parties has devolved into a dysfunctional mess plagued by low voter turnout, low turnover, and gridlock. Contrast this with the situation in other democracies, where ballot access thresholds are set much lower and minor parties are a much bigger variable in the political equation. In the UK, for example, where three major political parties and several minor parties have all been able to seat members of parliament, parties don’t have to petition to get on the ballot, and are only required to complete a relatively (in comparison with America) simple registration process with the nation’s Electoral Commission. The threshold for party ballot access is low enough that there are nearly 400 registered parties in the UK. And individual candidates for parliament in the UK are only required to submit the signatures of 10 registered voters and a £500 deposit.

In fact, these incumbent protection laws are so absurdly stringent that Richard Winger claims they potentially violate an an international agreement.

In reality, America’s ballot-access laws are so stringent, and third parties are repressed to such a degree, that the U.S. is probably in violation of the Copenhagen Meeting Document, an international agreement the U.S. signed in 1990 that requires nations to:

“Respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political organizations and provide such political parties and organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on the basis of equal treatment before the law and the authorities.”

How does the U.S. violate this agreement? Suppose that a new party were founded in 1994, with popular support that equaled that of the Democratic or Republican Party. In order to contest all the executive and legislative offices up for election on November 8th, 1994, it would need to collect about 4,454,579 valid signatures. And some of these signatures would need to be collected ten months before the election. By contrast, the Democratic and Republican parties would not need to submit any signatures to get themselves on the ballots, and their candidates would need only to collect about 882,484 valid signatures to place themselves on primary ballots.

In another piece, Richard Winger reminds us what is fundamentally wrong about ballot access laws. It is the politicians who are looking after their own interest who are deciding who gets a chance to win the election, not the voters.

We must go back to basics, and re-think the question, “What are ballots for?” Ballots are to permit the voters to vote for the candidates of their choice. If there are voters who wish to vote for a candidate, and that candidate is omitted (against his or her will) from the ballot, then the ballot is faulty. It isn’t doing its job. The purpose of ballots is to facilitate the wishes of voters, NOT to control whom they vote for.

Gerrymandering. Now, this isn’t necessarily a product of the two party system, but the two party system does a wonderful job of reinforcing it. I have seen many progressives use the argument that if Democrats don’t gerrymander then they won’t be competitive with Republicans. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the two party system, that may very well be true in today’s world. In the words of Steven Hill, in his eye-opening book “Fixing Elections,”

At its best, then, the redistricting process is hardly an innocent one, nor are its outcomes best for American democracy or national policy, despite the claims of the professional political class. In fact, when closely examining the redistricting process…the last thing on anyone’s mind, even that of noted political scientists, is the impact of redistricting on voters, on representation, on our democracy – indeed, on our national future. One of the most corrosive effects of…the gerrymandering of legislative districts is its understated impact on the psyche of voters, and whether each individual voter is imbued with an internalized sense that their vote is powerful. During the redistricting process most voters are plunked into safe, one-party districts, and at that moment their vote becomes either superfluous…or impotent…the act of voting becomes a waste of time, and a cruel hoax to their democratic aspirations.

In this case, competition on the ballot isn’t the only thing that’s harmed. By making the races uncompetitive and guaranteeing that either the incumbent or the incumbent party will have a certain reelection, voters are systematically dis-empowered, and the foundation of republic starts to rot.

And the idea of one party districts brings me to my next point.

We live in a one-party nation.

Once again, don’t get the idea that I think we live under the rule of the Warfare Party or the Demopublican Party. I mean that large swaths of the country literally have only one major party. For instance, if Massachusetts had ballot access laws as strict as Pennsylvania’s, then the Republican Party would not be qualified for the ballot there. And in 2008, every single county of Oklahoma went to John McCain. In major cities across the United States, there are unbelievably Democratic – that’s a big “D” for sure – governments.

First of all, why is this a problem? Well, it means that there is no competition. The nominee of the ruling party is the general election winner nine out of ten times. Make no mistake – this is a symptom of the two party system. The voters become unimportant, because they are offered a choice of “the same old” or “possibly worse” and they pick “the same old.” This lack of competition breeds corruption, incompetence, and neglect of the voters’ sentiments. There is something fundamentally wrong about a republic that has no competition – it defeats the purpose of being a republic!

But there is potentially a silver lining to this one party rule. It generally means that voters crave a new political voice (I mean, a vast majority of voters want some new parties anyway!). And that new political voice could be a successful, viable third party, as has been in the case in cities like San Francisco and Burlington.

A few months ago I spoke to Terry Bouricius over the phone about the Progressive Party’s success in Vermont. Terry is rare, politically. He was actually a successful third party politician, elected to ten years on the Burlington City Council and five terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. He ran as an independent, and then later as a Progressive. Now, the Vermont Progressive Party is the most successful third party in the nation. Terry told me that one of the three most significant factors in that success was that when it started in Burlington, the city was filled to the brim with Democrats and no one else. Voters wanted choices, and they were sick of the comfortable Democrats not listening to their demands. So the Progressives stood up and successfully filled that gap. They now hold the mayoralty of Burlington, along with two city council seats there, five seats in the state House of Representatives, and one seat in the state Senate. Not to mention, although he’s not officially affiliated, US Senator Bernie Sanders is closely associated with them. They are a political force in Vermont.

Something similar, albeit not as dramatic, is going on in San Francisco and nearby areas. Although its membership is currently on the wane, the Green Party has developed something of a base in the city. It has elected multiple city supervisors, it almost elected a mayor, and it has produced some very successful Green politicians. Nearby Richmond, with over 100,000 residents, is actually the largest city in US history to have a Green mayor. As can be seen from Green San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s scuffles with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, having a second party in a big city can provide some much needed political competition.

However, this one party effect is not felt only in a geographic sense. In some cases, there is a social context to it, as well. Take, for instance, African Americans. They tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic. And that’s no surprise, when Republicans are calling for a return to literacy tests for voting and resorting to cheap racial shots at the President. So, in our two party system, African Americans are faced with a choice: do you want the party that creates much of its success from race baiting or do you want the other party? Unappealing choices like that result in widespread disillusionment (although that’s obviously not the only problem with minorities and voting) and result in the same things as a geographical one party system. Just take a look at a New York Times article from Sunday highlighting the juggernaut of corporate fundraising that is the Congressional Black Caucus:

From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network.


In 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent more on the caterer for its signature legislative dinner and conference — nearly $700,000 for an event one organizer called “Hollywood on the Potomac” — than it gave out in scholarships, federal tax records show.


The claim that this is a truly philanthropic motive is bogus — it’s beyond credulity,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, a nonpartisan group that monitors campaign finance and ethics issues. “Members of Congress should not be allowed to have these links. They provide another pocket, and a very deep pocket, for special-interest money that is intended to benefit and influence officeholders.”

So what does a successful third party look like? And what will it take to get there?

In a broad sense, there are two routes one could take toward creating a successful third party (using either a brand new party or an existing one). One is that the party could take a very long term approach. That is, wait for or work toward election reform that makes elections more competitive. This is an area that certainly needs work in our country. As mentioned before, practices like gerrymandering and ballot access reinforce the two party system, and nations like Canada and Britain show that a more vibrant electoral system emerges if these barriers are removed. Another fundamental flaw in how most of our elections are conducted is the “winner take all” (aka first past the post and plurality) method of voting that is employed in a vast majority of US elections. This system is only fair when there are only two choices in an election, thereby creating an incentive for the two party system to exist, and creating the problem of “the spoiler effect” when more than two candidates are in a race. Instant runoff voting for single winner elections is attracting a lot of attention and is being implemented in many cities. Range voting is a system that I personally find interesting. And proportional representation, as seen in a vast majority of representative democracies throughout the world, can be a much more effective system for electing legislatures than the one we have in America. Once some or all of these changes are implemented, it will indeed be much easier for third parties to succeed.

The other route is to take a shot at success in today’s political and electoral environment. The way to do that, in my opinion, is to follow the model of the aforementioned Vermont Progressive Party. Although I am young, from what I have seen in the third party world, the key to success seems to be perseverance, having reasonable goals, and – as with any political mission – a bit of luck.

The idea of reasonable goals deserves some consideration. Many people tend to think of third parties in terms of Ross Perot or Ralph Nader and the glamor of the presidency. But that is not where third parties will have their success. If you look throughout history and at modern politics, you inevitably come to the conclusion that third parties must focus on the local and possibly the state level in order to have success. Before a Green Party or Progressive Party or whatever party candidate wins a gubernatorial election, it makes a lot of sense for them to prove themselves politically, build a base, and build “political capital” by winning lower offices throughout that state. The Progressive Party has already proven that this strategy works. If implemented intelligently, I believe that it can work in countless places throughout the United States.

To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them, in a period of rebellion, to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control…

In a two-party system, if both parties ignore public opinion, there is no place voters can turn.

–Howard Zinn, “A People’s History of the United States”

Posted by Ross Levin at February 11, 2011 4:59 PM
Comment #318506

Ross Levin,
Welcome to WB. An excellent and I might add a well thought out political argument. For why over the last 150 years America was all about Labor and Management, today the political landscape has changed since I do not see the Youth of Today looking at Corporations in the same manner as their parents and grandparents. So I agree with you that the Political Parties in America need to change in order to keep up with the times; however, being an Unlearned Unbridled Anti-Authoritarian Child of the 70’s by Freewill and Self-Nature I would warn your generation about departing from Americas’ Two Party System.

For why it does by design have its limitations, it also allows those wishing to remain outside the political parties a free voice to express their opinion and Civil Rights. Because why I could say your generation could have a two party system representing those who do not know and those who do know, I fear many of your parents wouldn’t have a clue to what I am talking about.

Nevertheless, history sgows us that the Republican Party was founded in 1854 and because their National Candidate running for President in 1860 was willing to take on the Major Issue of the Day and won. The Whig Party quickly lost their National Status.

And why I don’t see that happening with the Tea Party because of its National Leaders. I would think a Political Party willing to find a candidate to challenge President Obama on Americas’ ability to build a Green Sustainable Society in 2012 would stand a chance since the person could also take part of the Youth Vote. For am I wrong to think Today’s Generation looks at Government and Society as what Corporations can do to help the American Consumer build a Green Self-Sustainable Government and Society which can give every American Citizen the opportunity to become economically viable and financially independent?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 11, 2011 8:12 PM
Comment #318509

I think it is not probable a third party will be effective in our system of government. However, Ross Levin brings up many valid points about how our political system is viewed by others around the world.

It’s called a two-party system for a reason. We only have 2 major parties. We’ve always had 2 major parties. A third party is only effective when it replaces one of the 2 major parties.

The fact that the Democratic Party is and has always had an influence in our national politics since it’s conception/transformation in 1820 should be considered heavily. The Democratic Party party has influenced the politics of this country throughout this country’s history and has yet to experience the same fate every other party has. Extinction.

Why is that? Given the condition of this country and the fact the Democratic Party has been a major part of this country’s history, shouldn’t the Democratic Party eventually be held accountable?

Many of the points made by Ross Levin in his debut are relevant as to why the Democratic Party has not suffered the humiliation of defeat. They have stacked the deck in their favor. A third party will not remedy this. The elimination of the Democratic Party and it’s replacement with a viable alternative is a logical solution.
Since this solution has not been tried before, it should have standing and be considered a legitimate approach.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 11, 2011 9:06 PM
Comment #318512

Weary show me in the constitution where we are a two party system.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 11, 2011 9:21 PM
Comment #318514

BTW, Ross good job.

The instant runoff concept seems like a viable means to get more parties represented in the federal government. Here in Colorado the problem doesn’t seem to be access to the ballot as we have as many as a dozen candidates running for president. The problem is none of them want to start at the bottom it seems as I had only a repub and a dem to choose from as my representative in Congress.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 11, 2011 9:41 PM
Comment #318515

You’re in denial! Show me in current events where we’re not a two party system.


Posted by: Weary Willie at February 11, 2011 9:42 PM
Comment #318522

Not found in the Constitution, but in Americas’ Founding Documents

As far as America having only two political parties check this link out

Now, I’m npt the one to give a history lesson; however, the reason America has only Two Natiomal Political Parties is due to the fact it keeps Congress on the Right Page. For why it might be hard for some to grasp that working toward a “More Perfect Union” does take the effort of Two Humans; neverthless, like a good family “The Parents” not the “Children” need to be in charge.

Hence, without the Tea Party having enough seats in Congress to dethron the Republicans, they are forced to side with the Republicans since by their very Nature they would never side with the Democrats. Same is with those in the House and Senate who wish to be Independents. So if you want a new National Political Party you MUST win enough seats in an election or have the new Members of the New Congress join your Political Party. Otherwise, the two leading National Parties still control the Debate in Washington.

Isn’t that kind of the way they still teach it in High School Ross?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 11, 2011 10:39 PM
Comment #318523

Mr. Levin said:

“I’m not going to pull any punches here. I detest the two party system. I believe that it undermines representative government. It makes our government more responsive to corporations than to citizens. It decreases the chances of progress and it results in many good ideas being shut out of the national political debate.”

I believe this statement alone, embodies everything else you wrote. Numbers vary, but when only 29-48% of eligible voters actually vote, we have the political parties we deserve. We just witnessed the Egyptian people rise up and in less than 3 weeks, they fired and exiled a president. It remains to be seen what will happen in Egypt, but the point is, the people rose up and put him out. What would happen in America if there was a 95-100% involvement of the American people in voting? IMO, a third party would do nothing for America, except weaken the voter’s voice. We can make changes by getting involved and booting those politicians out that won’t listen. We are seeing great things from a group of American voters who rose up and with one voice said “enough”. From the beginning, the Tea Party has been ridiculed and attacked; yet even this week we see them have an effect on politicians who promised one thing and began to change once they got to DC. They promised 100 billion in cuts and when they got to DC it became 30 bil and then 60 bil and after protests and threats of a one term career, it is 100 bil again. The example is seen here:

“Republicans abandon “cut $100 billion” campaign promise before Congress is even sworn in.”

“GOP trying to keep $100 billion cut campaign promise”—100B-cut-promise

The point is not what the cuts are; the point is, within a month the Tea Party exerted enough pressure on politicians to change things. You don’t like lobbyist who influence your politician, then get rid of him. Why would a third party have any different result than two parties? The problem is not the parties; it is the people we elect to represent the parties. JMHO.

Posted by: 1776 at February 11, 2011 10:40 PM
Comment #318533

Got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago that was funny but fitting to a political system.

Make all members of the House and Senate wear NASCAR type suits so we can see who their sponsors are.

Posted by: tom humes at February 11, 2011 11:31 PM
Comment #318535
The problem is not the parties; it is the people we elect to represent the parties. JMHO.
Posted by: 1776 at February 11, 2011 10:40 PM

Nope, the problem is the illusion the Democratic Party is the best Party. The Democratic Party has been controlling this country since 1820! Isn’t this so?

Weary show me in the constitution where we are a two party system.
Posted by: j2t2 at February 11, 2011 09:21 PM

Show me where it is written the Democratic Party should be in control of this country and our government.

This is a good time for the Democratic Party to put Country first and party second. Unlike they did in the early 1800’s.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 11, 2011 11:39 PM
Comment #318544


Welcome to Watchblog! I hope that you will enjoy writing articles here. We haven’t had a real Green Party supporter since Richard Rhodes left.

Regarding the topic at hand, I agree fully that the first-past-the-post electoral system is one of the biggest flaws of our current Constitution. The founders originally believed they could prevent political parties from developing, but they were wrong and it is our job to pick up the pieces. Personally, I find IRV and STV appealing, but frankly almost any different electoral system would be better than the one we have today. Nevertheless, third parties are not immune from the corruption that plagues the two dominant parties. In Boston, a Green-Rainbow Party City Councilman was recent sentenced to 3 years in prison for taking bribes and then committing perjury. Even if we amend the Constitution and change the electoral system, we will still need to be eternally vigilant to make sure our politicians are behaving ethically.

I’ve heard others mention making the identities of our politicians’ sponsors more widely available including NASCAR style clothing. Although this would never actually fly in Congress, it is certainly an appealing idea from my vantage point. Transparency is the key to creating an informed electorate able to maintain the vigilance necessary to maintain a political system free from corruption.

Posted by: Warped Reality at February 12, 2011 1:02 AM
Comment #318551

“Show me where it is written the Democratic Party should be in control of this country and our government.”

Weary keep searching, the dems were not in control of this country in the modern era until FDR and the great depression. In fact there have been more repub presidents than dem presidents.

The fact is when the country first elected a president there were no political parties, which was the intent of the founding fathers until reality set in.

“Now, I’m npt the one to give a history lesson; however, the reason America has only Two Natiomal Political Parties is due to the fact it keeps Congress on the Right Page.”

Henry are you suggesting that with 4 or 5 parties we could not keep the country on the right page? Nonsense. Other countries can do it. In fact Canada has 5 parties in power and has been able to not fall into the trap we fell into in 2008 and the deregulation causing “great recession”.

“Show me where it is written the Democratic Party should be in control of this country and our government.”

Weary get a grip dude. The dems have been put of power more than in power the past 30 years. Your inability to understand that the conservative ideology has been in power since the days of Reagan is laughable. As we speak the dems have just lost an election cycle that put the repubs in as the majority in the HOR. During the first 8 years of this decade the repubs held sway in the administrative and for the longest time the legislative branches of government. You can have your opinion but not the facts Weary.

“We are seeing great things from a group of American voters who rose up and with one voice said “enough”.”

Not great things 1776, imho, if these tea baggers were serious about cutting debt they would realize that reverting to the pre-Bush tax rates was the sensible thing to do. The tax cuts and unfunded wars were a major contributor to the deficit. They are just pushing the debt onto the next generation at a little slower pace to benefit themselves.

“From the beginning, the Tea Party has been ridiculed and attacked;”

And rightfully so 1776, They stood around silently doing nothing for 8 years while the repubs made medicare a cash cow for big Pharma. They were silent as Bush and the repubs cut taxes and borrowed to fund wars. They got their voice only after the damage was done to the country and the economy.

” yet even this week we see them have an effect on politicians who promised one thing and began to change once they got to DC.”

Give it time, until they raise taxes on the boomer generation, to pay for the war debt, they are no more than whining cry baby conservatives unworthy of the attention they are getting for yelling at their leadership without a care to the end result of their actions.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 12, 2011 2:44 AM
Comment #318553

Why I can understand your point, speaking Only Politically you have the Right to Your Opinion and I have the Right to My Opinion; However, just as a Dime has Three Sides; the COLD HARD TRUTH BELONGS to No One except the Ameican Layman Citizen who is not Learned in Law or Criminal Justice. Something those over the age of 50 should know from their Civil Rights Lessons years ago.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 12, 2011 3:13 AM
Comment #318554

Henry am I not an American layman citizen? I mean is Congress on the right page now, with the two political parties? Many of us look only at our country but not at others that have a similar government and lifestyle. The Canadians seem to be able to work through many problems with 5 parties. They don’t seem to suffer the stagnation caused by conservatism, yet they have a conservative party. They seem to be able to work through a piece of legislation without grinding the nation into debt and disaster. To say that we as Americans cannot do this for whatever reasons only serves to show how little faith many of us have in the citizens of this country. Save the nay saying for the ideological stupefied conservatives, Henry don’t get sucked into the duopoly that makes things easier for the authoritarians and their two parties acting as one system.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 12, 2011 3:39 AM
Comment #318555

Considering if enough Americans would have called their Congressperson and assembled Peacefully in the Streets as they have in Egypt both Politic Parties would have to listen as they did in America during the 1970’s than the Two Party System works fine; however, today to many of us want to let others tell us how to feel and what to think instead of speaking out about what we know to be Right Regardless. And the sad thing is no amount of Politial Parties can change that.

No, if the Generations of the 20th Century are going to pass on to Generations of the 21st Century the Blessings we were given than agreeing to disagree is not the solution. It should be What Works and Don’t Work for All Americans Regardless of Race, Color, or Creed. Think Americans have that kind of Political Will?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 12, 2011 3:58 AM
Comment #318562

I think I’ll mostly just let this piece speak for itself, but I just wanted to point something out about Chuck Turner, the Green Boston City Councillor who was convicted of taking a bribe:

This was arguably entrapment on the FBI’s part, it is supposedly part of a series of targeted prosecutions (persecutions?) of black, radical politicians, and the government official in charge of the prosecution was as corrupt as they come. The US government has a long history of silencing any form of dissent (Eugene V. Debs, a Socialist, received almost a million votes for president while in jail for speaking out against WWI; something like half of the membership of some communist groups in the 1950s were FBI informants; and I myself was labeled a “moderate terrorist threat,” along with thousands of others ranging from the tea party to socialists to people attending church, by the Pennsylvania state government for protesting against BP, in a secret report that eventually was made public).

That’s a pretty outrageous claim compared to the state’s line, I admit, so here’s some info from sources other than myself:

and about Michael Sullivan, who prosecuted Turner:

(He was one of the attorneys NOT fired by the Bush Administration, while those who were fired weren’t being political enough, remember?)

Posted by: Ross Levin at February 12, 2011 12:44 PM
Comment #318583

Ross Levin Welcome and thank you for a very well thought out post. I look forward to more of your insight on the state of or politics but be warned the little willies on WB sometimes get a little obnoxious and hateful.

Posted by: Jeff at February 12, 2011 8:14 PM
Comment #318591

Good point and a warning to All. Due to the age of Ross, why I have no problem with you disagreeing with him I hope you respect his Youth! For though it has been a long time in calling anyone out. Ask David Remer and others just how far I can take someone to their breaking point.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 12, 2011 9:02 PM
Comment #318592

tom humes

you said

“Make all members of the House and Senate wear NASCAR type suits so we can see who their sponsors are.”

tom….that sh#t is funny!!!!! i can picture some of those suits right now. LOL!!! thanks for the pick-me-up.

Posted by: dbs at February 12, 2011 9:02 PM
Comment #318601

You’re the one doing all the name calling, Jeff.
Very juvenile if you ask me. How old are you anyway?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 12, 2011 10:32 PM
Comment #318607

Old enough to know better young enough to do it anyway.

Posted by: Jeff at February 13, 2011 11:57 AM
Comment #318642

I apologize to Ross Levin for that intrusion.

The Democratic Party has been controllinginfluencing this country since 18208! Isn’t this so?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 11, 2011 11:39 PM

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2011 7:02 PM
Comment #318644

Sorry for my belated commentary here, but welcome (or welcome back, if that’s the case!) to Watchblog’s writing staff.

For what it’s worth, I think redistricting should be made a non-partisan affair, so that community interests define representation, rather than the wish for some to hold onto power. Voters should choose their governing officials, not governing officials their voters.

I also think ballot access should be relaxed.

However, keep in mind one thing: it will make most sense to start local, because you will always have to fight to be either a majority or a plurality, given the way we run our voting. The one-person, one-vote system essentially guarantees that one candidate will have to assemble the coalition of voters necessary to win.

It’s important to realize that this is one of the main means by which the two party system gets reinforced. The simplest match up is one where one candidate gets more than fifty percent, and the other does not. As long as the majority strategizes to optimize their results, they will gravitate towards the candidates they feel can attain majority support.

Which I say not to discourage, but to get folks on the third party side of things to realize that they might have to build some support at a grassroots level, whatever they do, if they want to really change the political equations out there. The thresholds must be satisfied.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2011 7:50 PM
Comment #318646

Maybe the two party system is all our education system can support!

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2011 8:02 PM
Comment #318648
For what it’s worth, I think redistricting should be made a non-partisan affair,
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 13, 2011 07:50 PM

Stephen Daugherty, the only way this can be a reality is if an Article V convention is held.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2011 8:18 PM
Comment #318649

my McAfee software just updated.

veely intelesting?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2011 8:35 PM
Comment #318651

Redistricting should be based on longitude and latitude and citizens within each cube. How’s that for campaign finance reform?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2011 8:44 PM
Comment #318652

That way algore could say if the earth tilted up we could go down and if the earth tilted down we could go up…

It would depend entirely on the sun of our god, algore.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2011 8:55 PM
Comment #318671

Ross, welcome to WatchBlog.

I have long been an advocate of a multi-party system. IMO, the two party system is one that restricts choice. Those with power like that particular restriction on choice.

1776, The tea party candidates are now like the Democrats and Republicans, they are on the corporate dole. In the future, their votes will reflect this reality.

WW, you should not speak for me, Al Gore may be your god, but not mine. I don’t believe that creating the Internet elevates one to god status.

Posted by: jlw at February 14, 2011 5:01 PM
Comment #318686

All in good fun, jlw. I feel free. It feels good to make jokes without having to read the berating responses. Breath Deep the gathering freedom.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 14, 2011 11:01 PM
Comment #318692

Advice… Write posts 400 words or less. Very few people have time to read giant essays like this. Break it up into smaller ideas and several posts, and goad people into conversing about each… pulls more than just wonky types in.

Solomon Kleinsmith
Rise of the Center

Posted by: Solomon Kleinsmith at February 15, 2011 1:39 AM
Comment #318716

Ross Levin,

It seems you have bought Turner’s testimony (which was rife with perjury) hook, line and sinker. Under no circumstances can a politician accept a bribe like this one and claim no responsibility. And this goes for Diane Wilkerson too (who plead guilty). Massachusetts has recently experienced quite a lot of corruption. Our past three speakers of the house have all resigned after their unethical behavior was revealed. The fact that Turner and his supporters are attacking our justice system over this is really foul.

I see that you are a Pennsylvanian, so the fact that you must rely on others to gather your information is understandable. I used to work for a nonprofit organization in Chuck Turner’s district back in ‘05-‘07. Back then Turner’s corruption was an open secret. I’m certainly glad that he was caught and sent to prison. I don’t fault the rest of the Green Party for Turner’s actions, I’m just reminding you that no party is immune from corruption. The only reason we don’t have any other Green Party people being sent to prison like this is because there are hardly any Green Party politicians in elected office.

Posted by: Warped Reality at February 15, 2011 5:40 PM
Comment #322150

The nation, many states and municipalities, along with a large segment of the population of the nation is facing large debt obligations.

What should we do about government debt?

The first question to ask is this: Is past and current debt an obligation that must be met?

If you answered no, then selective default or overall bankruptcy is an option.

If you answered yes, then we have only three choices. We must make more, spend less, adjust our expectations, or use a combination of all three.

To generate more tax revenue, we have to produce goods or services that others want. We can tax the production, the sale, the increase in value, the usage, the gross business and/or personal income, or the net business and/or personal income.

This is where the rub begins.

In order to reward those who have helped those who have been elected to office, we permit representatives to amend laws, rules and regulations with riders to primary bills of legislation with complex and qualifying language. This amounts to nothing more than insider trading, as more-often-than not, once the general public realizes that an opportunity exists, those who were on the inside, have already run the race and have moved on to the winners circle to collect a handsome payoff.

The Warlords

We live in a world of warlords. Warlords fight and control through the threat and use of force. Various video games increased the awareness of the word warlord, but rarely is the term used in politics; but it should.

The myth of Mr. Smith being able to go to Washington and possibly, one day becoming the common man’s President has been bought hook, line, and sinker as a result of nationalism, patriotism, and myopic rose colored glassed as a result of heavily manipulated public education of revisionist history. The truth of the matter is that we were born from, in, and remain in a state of conflict at home and abroad. Conflict has always existed, and it always will. In order to survive and prosper, humans gather in groups akin to dogs, wolves, bears, fish, and birds, who pack, school, and flock. A leader (warlord) emerges from natural selection, more often due to the luck of genetic configuration while in the womb and external circumstances we merely know of as luck. When there are two or more lucky genetic winners, conflict arises. The members of the pack must decide to stay loyal to the existing warlord, change allegiance to the challenger, or declare neutrality and risk offending everyone and being pushed around. The fourth option is the creation of a third group.

The Fourth Option: The Thirds

The fourth option is often the option of last resort. The members are not fond of the current or challenging warlord. The spoils system enjoyed by the warlords and their minions, have left the Thirds in a position of constant turmoil. When not fighting the forces outside the pack, the Thirds are forced to witness and engage in the fighting within the pack. The Thirds are the workers of the pack. They gather, hunt, and provide for themselves and those who are physically, emotionally, and intellectually unable to fully take care of themselves. The Thirds do this naturally, without the expectation of reward for it is the right thing to do in order to ensure the survival and growth of the pack. The developing leader of the Thirds is not as superior and gifted as the incumbent and challenging warlord, and so he relies upon the law of large numbers, the strength of many as opposed to that of the individual. Others within the Thirds begin to fill in the gaps, work as a unit, and grow in strength. And then, one day it happens.


The warlords, leader and challenger, go at it again. The spoils of the days hunt have been nearly consumed by the two and the last remaining fleshed bone remains. They fight one another while the Thirds grow hungry, watch, simmer, and begin to boil in anger and disgust. The fight begins to subside as fatigue sets.

Without warning, without a word said, the Thirds react as one and pounce on the two warlords. The first couple of Thirds are quickly tossed aside, but they do not stop. The two warlords are overwhelmed and to the surprise of everyone, are quickly defeated.

The Thirds restrain and control the two warlords and now must make the decision to either kill them off or banish them from the pack. A mature and wise member of the Thirds steps forward to say that the pack is strong with the defeated warlords, for outside forces remain that require the full strength of the pack; however, there are terms and conditions that the defeated warlords must not violate. The warlords have no choice; they capitulate.

The consensus of the pack is that the ways of the pack will change. Each member is responsible for his welfare and what he has gathered in excess will be shared with those-in-need and saved when the drought arrives; which it does every year. The pack divides into three, generally equal social groups. The spoils system of rewarding the fittest remains, but those in need due to injury while gathering and hunting are taken care of as never before by those who know them best, their family within the larger pack. At times, families struggle and the pack respond appropriately, not out of a moral basis but out of the realization that the survival of the pack requires nothing less.

The Founding Whigs of the United States in the 1700s understood the trilogy of balanced needs between We the People, the States, and the Nation, by creating a trilogy of governance, where equality existed between the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The formalization of three equal political groupings was never considered as natural selection, of and by the people, cannot and must not be regulated.

The incumbent and challenging warlords, the Modern Tories that carry the banners of the Democratic and Republican Parties, have effectively blocked the efforts of the Thirds; and they continue. The “True” Thirds are those who are more than lip service tea drinkers of the Republican Party. The “True” Thirds of the nation are growing hungry, watching with disgust, simmering, and beginning to boil-over in anger.

Warlords Beware: The True Thirds Are Lying In Wait No More.

Telling The Truth

Spend Less, Make More, Adjust Expectations

The Fourth Option: The Trilogy

It’s Just That Simple

Posted by: Paul Grant Truesdell at April 23, 2011 11:14 AM
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