GREENS SUPPORT COBB IN SWING STATES, KERRY IN SWING STATES, REJECT NADER CANDIDACY
Greens for Impact
22 Jun 2004 01:46 GMT
In response to the so-called "spoiler" problem, members of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) are encouraging voters to support David Cobb in the "safe states" and John Kerry in swing states -- those states in which the presidential election is so hotly contested that the victor cannot be readily predicted.
The group supports Cobb of Texas (former GPUS General Counsel) for the GPUS presidential nomination and discourages the GPUS from endorsing Ralph Nader's candidacy. David Cobb, unlike Nader, does not believe Greens should run in such a way as to help "re-elect" George W. Bush.
The group announces the launch of Greens for Impact (www.GreensForImpact.com) which will work to promote an electoral strategy that fosters the growth of the GPUS while facilitating the defeat of George W. Bush. We believe that this agenda is most-readily forwarded by a strategy designed to maximize the Green Party's impact. Greens for Impact works to:
Encourage voters to register Green,
Encourage Greens to support David Cobb for the Green Party nomination for President,
Encourage voters in safe states -- those that are so overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic that we can be confident today of who will win there in November -- to vote for David Cobb in the General Election,
Encourage voters in swing states to vote for John Kerry in the general election, and
Actively and forcefully push for the use of instant runoff voting (IRV) wherever suitable, alongside ballot access reform and full public financing of campaigns.
I. The Need for a Lasting Solution
Greens for Impact believes that it is not enough to merely endorse David Cobb in the "safe" states and John Kerry in the "swing" states. Doing so would only be a temporary solution to the current rift between left-leaning voters. The real long-term solution lies in election reform, without which we are destined to repeat the problem of inadvertently and paradoxically electing conservatives by voting for those who share our principles. There are three key mechanisms of electoral reform that would aid in solving this problem: 1) adoption of instant runoff voting (IRV), 2) easing of state and federal ballot access thresholds, and 3) full public financing of campaigns. John Kerry and the Democratic Party have all but ignored these issues, though Kerry has supported public financing in the past, while the Green Party pays mere lip service to IRV.
II. Instant Runoff Voting
Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank candidates, rather than choose just one. For example, if IRV were adopted prior to the 2000 election, voters in Florida could have ranked Ralph Nader as their first choice and Al Gore as their second choice. IRV requires that a candidate receive a majority of voter support in order to be elected, by eliminating the weakest candidates and transferring their votes to the second choices of those who voted for them. This process is repeated until a candidate receives a majority.
IRV allows voters to vote their conscience without helping candidates they abhor, thereby promoting positive campaigning, coalition-building, and eliminating the so-called "spoiler" problem. Politicians from across the spectrum have endorsed IRV, including presidential candidates Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, David Cobb, John Anderson, and John McCain. Voters in San Francisco recently adopted IRV in a ballot question, and will transition into that voting system in the next election cycle. IRV is currently used to elect the Australian House of Representatives, the London Mayor, and is even used by Utah Republicans in primary elections.
We should also note here, that were IRV adopted, it would be in the interest of Democrats to welcome and even encourage Greens to run and attend candidate debates. Under an IRV system, greater turnout from left-leaning third party voters would aid the Democrats in gaining second-choice votes critical to defeating right-wing political candidates. These reforms are a win-win endeavor, not just for the Greens and Democrats, but for voters and democracy itself.
III. Democrats & Greens: Dropping the Ball
One of the greatest shames for both the Green Party and the Democratic Party is their joint unwillingness to seriously push for IRV, instead opting to engage in destructive political practices. Democrats are, of course, due the bulk of the blame, as they have much easier access to the public's ear and control several key state legislatures, but fail to use their tremendous power to push through legislation to adopt IRV. Rather than attempting to fix the election system that created the conflicts witnessed in the 2000 elections, they are resigned to watch a similar scenario play out on the national stage all over again, and are content to facilitate analogous dynamics at the state and local levels on a regular basis. Rather than work toward a long-term solution they choose to engage in character assasination against competing left-of-center candidates. This is clearly done out of a fear of a strong progressive third party, but we should note that whatever short-term gains are achieved through this type of power-grab are overwhelmingly mitigated by the long-term benefits of a cooperative and fair political system. And, perhaps unfortunately so, other nations using ranked-choice ballots have shown that they do not result in the majority parties losing their prominence.
Greens, at the same time, must be mindful of the power that comes with having the ability to decide close races. In these situations, Greens must seize the often fleeting moments of clout that they hold and use these opportunities to make principled compromises in exchange for electoral reforms. On at least one occassion, Democrats offered to endorse IRV in a district where Greens were almost certainly going to draw a significant number of votes away from the Democrat, thus facilitating the election a Republican. This effort to reach a compromise was rejected, in spite of the fact that IRV is one of the *key* reforms needed to ensure the long-term growth and survival of the Green Party.
Therefore, we call on John Kerry to endorse IRV, not only as a solution and means of allowing for political cooperation, but also because it is a more democratic way of conducting elections. We urge him to use his influence as a U.S. Senator to ensure that new voting machines purchased after the 2000 election debacle are made compatible with rank-ballot voting systems such as IRV. John Kerry should push to amend Senator Bob Graham's RECORD Act currently before the Senate to mandate that IRV compliant voting machines are adopted. In addition, in those jurisdictions that allow for citizen-initiated referenda and ballot questions, we call on the Green Party to expend its resources on passing pro-IRV ballot measures.
IV. Unfair Ballot Access & Funding Laws
The second area of potential reform lies in access to ballot lines and funding for third parties. The current election rules were clearly conceived so as to prevent the growth of third parties by setting high thresholds for obtaining ballot access and funding. However, this process also forces third parties to run candidates in unwinnable national and statewide races, merely to obtain or maintain their funding and ballot lines. Thus, what began as a crooked attempt by the major parties to prevent voters from having more choices actually encourages the presence of minor candidates in elections of national consequence, as the Green Party and other third parties are forced to run candidates they might not otherwise run. The Democrats, by failing to liberalize political access laws, have in essence created their own spoiler problem. For example, if a state's law only grants ballot access to political parties gaining more than 10% in an election cycle, it forces the party to mount an aggressive campaign to reach that threshold. Easing ballot access laws would prevent that problem. Lastly, we can never rid ourselves of the pernicious influence of corporate interests in our political system without at least having full public financing of our campaigns. Such measures have been largely successful since implemented in Maine and should be adopted elsewhere.
The Presidential Election of 2004 is not a debate about voting your fears or voting your conscience. It is not an academic or theoretical exercise. Real people's lives are at stake. Women, people of color, the GLBT community, our nation's poor, and many others, save for the privileged few, will face real consequences from the outcome of this election. As a result, we must view the effect of our votes collectively, not merely by what they mean to us as individuals. Vote with your mind. Vote with a plan.
We encourage sympathetic Greens, especially elected members of the GPUS, to contact us and lend support. It is our desire that as our ranks swell our voices will be heard in the most highly contested states, and that the Kerry campaign will hear our calls for electoral reform -- to support an amendment of the RECORD Act (S.2313, H.R. 2239) already before congress and already supported by several prominent Democrats, to require rank-ballot-compatability . In six states -- Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin -- the 2000 presidential victor won by fewer than 7,500 votes. The margins in 2004 will be potentially so slim that our collective voice can have an IMPACT.
PAID FOR BY GREENS FOR IMPACT (GFI) NON-CONNECTED COMMITTEE - FEDERAL.
Disclaimer: Greens for Impact is not affiliated with any candidate, candidate's committee, or any political party. Specifically, we are not affilated with or authorized by the Green Party of the United States, David Cobb for President, or John Kerry for President.