Uniting Three Parties in Maryland
The Daily Reckoning PRESENTS: There are many citizens that don’t agree with the two conventional parties, which is why the Libertarian, Populist and Green parties were formed. Senate-hopeful Kevin Zeese shares his “Unity Campaign” that brings all three alternative parties together to endorse the same candidate – something that has never been done before. Read on…
UNITING THREE PARTIES IN MARYLAND
When I began my run in Maryland for the U.S. Senate, I decided that I could not be comfortable with either of the two old parties. However, I also recognized that any one of the small alternative parties could not successfully challenge them. So, I set out to create a Unity Campaign that would bring together the Libertarian, Populist and Green Parties of Maryland, along with voters registered Republican, Democrat and independent.
According to Richard Winger, the editor of Ballot Access News and a top expert on the history of third parties, the Libertarian and Green Parties have never nominated the same candidate. Having worked with both parties over the years, I understood their differences, but when I looked at the most important of issues of the day, I also saw many areas of agreement.
In addition, I knew there were conflicts between the Populist and Green Parties. The Populist Party of Maryland was formed to put Ralph Nader on the ballot in 2004 when the Green Party nominated David Cobb. This was a bitter split, so bringing them together had its challenges.
But now they have done something that they have never done before anywhere in the United States – they have nominated the same candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Why did they take this historical step? Both recognize that the United States faces serious problems that the two old parties refuse to address. Our economy is at risk from massive trade deficits, record federal deficits, a rising U.S. debt ceiling and very high personal debt. The growing divide between rich and poor is shrinking the middle class and increasing poverty while a class of extreme wealth has more money than ever before. The wealthy get wealthier in large part because their political donations to the two parties have allowed them to warp the free market to favor their interests.
There is an urgent need for change. Thus, the three parties have endorsed my “Unity for Change” Campaign.
We cannot change course in any significant way unless we break the straight jacket of the two parties as they are indentured to the status quo. More and more voters see the two old parties are equally corrupt. Enormous campaign contributions keep both deep in the pockets of wealthy special interests whose preferences often conflict with the welfare and necessities of the American people. The public sees that neither old party has solutions to the problems faced by Americans; the respective players waste time debating issues to excite their base – such as flag burning and gay marriage.
According to the Economist magazine, only 17% of Americans say they feel that their federal elected officials represent their interests. Americans like to believe they live in the greatest representative democracy in world history, yet 83% feel un-represented! Alas, these Americans are right.
The focus of elected officials is not the concerns of voters but the concerns of those who put them in office – the moneyed special interests. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) describes our electoral system as “nothing less than a massive influence peddling scheme where both parties conspire to sell the country to the highest bidder.”
After leaving office, former Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) called the Senate “a whore house.” He said that the special interests were buying access, meaning: “They write the bills and we vote for them.”
No wonder Congress is even less popular than the unpopular president. It is also no wonder why both parties have higher negative than positive ratings for the first time in polling history.
The alternative political parties in Maryland looked at the political landscape in our state and saw the need for another choice – one that could effectively challenge the two old parties.
On the Republican side, the Senate candidate is sure to be Michael Steele. He is the lieutenant governor and his campaign strategy avoids taking any positions as he raises money from the Bush family (they’ve all been fundraisers for him). He sticks to a vague script about building a “Bridge of Steele” to the future.
The leading Democrat, Congressman Ben Cardin, is in the process of being anointed by the Democratic Party that is trying to ignore former Congressman and NAACP Director Kweisi Mfume – his strongest, but not only challenger. Cardin is a classic corporate Democrat, a big supporter of corporate trade agreements. He waffled on the Iraq War, voted for the Patriot Act and is blindly supportive of Israel – under all circumstances.
Then the three parties looked at the issues they agreed on:
* The Iraq War is wrong and the occupation is doing more harm than good. We need a rapid, responsible exit strategy and need to avoid future unnecessary wars of aggression.
* The Constitution has been seriously weakened by the Patriot Act, eavesdropping by the NSA, the secret review of financial records, and other executive actions, allowed by a complacent Congress.
* Corporate welfare has reached over $300 billion annually, primarily going to national and international corporations, thereby warping the free market and creating unfair competition for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
* The tax system takes too much money from working families while allowing wealth to funnel up rather than trickle down, creating the largest rich-poor divide since the 1920s.
* The checks and balances of government no longer exist as the opposition party remains silent or ineffective in the face of an imperial presidency that seizes more and more power.
* Democracy has become a mirage as legislators redistrict so they do more to pick the voters than voters do to pick their legislators. At the same time they keep out independent challengers by creating barriers to participation that silence their voices.
* Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the merger of big business and big government has warped the priorities so that their interests come before the people’s needs.
On these issues as well as those of health care, money in politics, Internet independence, and the opening up of our democracy, the two established parties and their candidates in Maryland fail to represent the public. Of course, on the most important issue where there was agreement was to break the stranglehold of the two parties who increasingly shared the same funders, as well as the same positions on critical issues.
The three parties initially had concerns about working with other parties, but they saw that the time was right for a challenge to the two old parties, and they had enough in common on which to build a Unity Campaign. Further, we recognized that even where we disagreed on the solutions – we agreed on the problems and that was an important first step.
The time seemed right to mount a real challenge to the two parties. The fastest-growing group of voters in Maryland is those voters registering outside the two-party system. Even mainstream Democrats and Republicans are looking for alternatives. Nationally, former staff members of the Carter and Ford Administrations, along with Angus King, a former independent governor of Maine, are behind Unity 08 – an effort to create a third political force in the next presidential election. They report that 74% of Americans want more than two choices in the 2008 presidential race. It is hard to find more mainstream old party members than former presidential staff members, and now even they are trying to break away from the politics as usual of the two parties.
Challenging the two entrenched parties that have stacked the deck to keep new parties from fully participating in elections is an uphill battle. In many ways, we are upstarts fighting two bullies. And, these bullies have massive fundraising bases from the special interests while we have to build our fundraising base primarily from a financially stressed middle class. But, more and more Americans are recognizing that if we want our democracy to work, it needs major change. Not only am I getting support from voters in Maryland, but we’ve also noted people from throughout the country are contributing on the Zeese for Senate Web site.
If the Unity for Change Campaign succeeds, it will spur an independent political movement and have the potential to wake up the two old parties. Maybe they will recognize that they have to take voters seriously and represent their interests rather than the interests of their funders. By having a successful outside political force, voters will be able to say to the two old parties: “represent my interests or I have somewhere else to go.” They will not be able to take voters for granted or manipulate them with emotional side issues while shaping the economy to suit their donors.
The key to making this race successful is to convince voters that they need to vote for what they believe in and not be fooled by the two parties’ claims of how bad the other candidate is. Voting for a lesser evil, a candidate with whom you have disagreements on important issues like the war, deficit, civil liberties and the economy, ensures that you will get what you don’t want. The only way to get what you want is to vote for what you want. The only wasted vote is a vote against your own interests.
The three parties represent different parts of the political spectrum; having them behind me lends credibility to my candidacy. When this race is seen as a three-way race, with each of the three candidates having the potential to win, then voters will be free to vote for what they want. Perhaps when Americans can vote for their desire for positive change, we will get America back on track again.
for The Daily Reckoning
July 5, 2006
Editor’s Note: Kevin Zeese is a candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland. He has two Web sites: and a wiki campaign site where people can help develop policy together:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776.
Jefferson had few doubts that he was doing the right thing. His Declaration of Independence set off America’s revolt against the Crown and Parliament.
But history has a way of taking off in her own direction. As Americans were busy celebrating our independence from Britain, we were not entirely sure why they should make so much of it. It seems to us that life turned out tolerably good here in London – probably no worse than in New York or Los Angeles. As near as we can tell, the food, drink, lodgings, and amusements are about the same. And if the Yank is freer, nobler or more enlightened, we have seen no evidence for it.
Our speculations extend themselves. If there had been no Revolution, there might also have been no War Between the States…partly because there would have been no states, certainly none which thought they could decide for themselves whether to remain part of the empire or not, and partly because the British banned slavery throughout the empire years earlier. Nor might there have been a World War I. The Germans might never have challenged the English empire if they knew they had to face America as well as Britain.
By 1914, England was in decline, but America was already the world’s largest economy and still growing fast. Likewise, there might not have been a World War II either. No first world war, no war debt, no reparations, no hyperinflation, no opening for the fascists, no Reichstag fire, no putsch, no Fuhrer, no concentration camps, no Blitz, and no war with the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. But had there been no WWI, there probably wouldn’t have been a Soviet Union anyway. Russia might have modernized and industrialized along European lines. So, no WWI, no Soviet Union, no WWII, no Cold War, no Long March, no Korea, no Vietnam, and who knows what else?
Would we have been better off? We don’t know for sure. But we could hardly have been worse off for missing any of them. As for the main truth that Jefferson thought self-evident, that “all men are created equal,” we are even less certain. What made him think it was self-evident, we don’t know. All the evidence we’ve seen tells us just the opposite – men are not born equal. One is rich; one is poor. One is fat; one is skinny. One has Viking blue eyes and pale skin; the other is a Blackamoor with eyes like burning coals and skin the color of soot. Maybe twins are born equal, but the rest of us are as variable as snowflakes. No two are alike. No two are equal.
When Americans celebrated the birth of their nation yesterday, it bothered no one that the founders’ most important insights were palpably untrue. People are born different. It is only before the law that they are equal, and then, only if they don’t have enough money for a good lawyer.
The English legal philosopher Jeremy Bentham was probably thinking on those lines when he scoffed at the theorists of the French and American Revolutions. “Natural Rights,” he growled, “is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense – nonsense upon stilts.”
People occasionally appreciate the truth in the same way they appreciate a good joke. It breaks the monotony. But it is to falsehood that they look to organize their lives. Myths stick to them like burrs to a sweater. Warren Buffett, for example, is giving away his fortune because he doesn’t want to corrupt his own children with too much wealth. “I have given them enough so they can do anything,” he says, “but not enough so they can do nothing.” The Sage of the Plains also strongly supports death duties, because he believes it is better for babes to start out life like worker bees – each one an exact duplicate of the other.
But they don’t even start out equal. Not in America. Not anywhere. Warren Buffett was born into the most privileged ranks of American society – the son of a U.S. congressman. Not everyone is so lucky. Of course, not every scion of a political family makes good. And few make as good as Buffett. But the man from Omaha can’t exactly claim that he started life on an equal footing with the average man, most of whom never get close enough to a congressman to shoot him, let alone have dinner with him every night.
Some people are luckier than others, though we never know for sure which is which. And the whole race of Americans seems to be favored. A baby born to a high-caste Goldman vice president in Connecticut clearly has an edge over one born to a low-caste street sweeper in Kerala. One baby born to a middle class teacher in Silver City is almost surely in better position than another born to a teacher in Sadr City. As for the child of a trashy drug addict in St. Paul, is he really starting off on a better foot than one born to a decent trash picker in Sao Paulo?
As things now stand, through no virtue or effort on his part, the average American baby can expect to earn 10 times as much per hour as the baby born in other places. It’s not equal, but it’s not bad. Nor is it necessarily permanent. Foreigners still use the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. And you can still usually sell a house for more than you paid for it. When those conditions end, the levelers should be happy; the advantage American babies have enjoyed for nearly a century will begin to disappear.
More news from our team at The Rude Awakening…
Eric Fry, reporting from New York:
“A few days back, we asked you, the Rude Awakening faithful, to identify your favorite water stocks. As usual, you responded with some terrific ideas.”
For the rest of this story, and for more market insights, see today’s issue of The Rude Awakening.
And more opinions from across the pond…
*** Foreigners can never decide whether they like Americans or despise them. Not surprising. Americans can’t decide either. But recent polls show the foreigners making up their minds. According to a report in last week’s news, America is reaching record-low levels of approval in the eyes of the rest of the world. Our padre elaborates:
“The BBC [the rough equivalent of National Public Radio in the U.S.] hates what it always describes as ‘American imperialism’ and indeed all American military operations,” writes our friend Peter Mullen, chaplain to London Stock Exchange.
“You wonder where these BBC producers and presenters learnt their history. Twice in the last century, in the First and Second World Wars, the timely military interventions of the U.S. armed forces saved Europe from tyranny. America then fought to weaken and finally defeat the evil totalitarian expansionism of the Soviets. It was American military might which saved us from becoming part of the gulag. You would think the BBC types would be grateful. Far from it.
“But here’s the anomaly: while despising America for all the good she has done, they worship her for the trash she creates. Those same BBC news and documentary departments that loathe wholesome American power, grovel before the worst and most trivial aspects of American culture. They send countless staff on freebies to the Oscars. They import trashy American sitcoms and even trashier children’s television shows. They even adopt the language and syntax of America – ‘kinda’; ‘math’; ‘elevator’; ‘sidewalk’ and the barbarous ‘miss out on.’ We used to ‘fill in’ forms but now we have to ‘fill out,’ because that’s what the yanks do.
“It’s all very puzzling. I don’t mind bias. I’m biased myself about many things – but at least I know I am. With the BBC, there is only a blissful ignorance.”
*** Like we said last week, we encourage debates – they make life interesting. If everyone agreed all the time, what would we have to talk about?
“I wholeheartedly agree with the letter from your reader calling you a coward,” writes one reader.
“You live a phony life with no roots. You have houses here, there and everywhere, as you constantly remind us, but no roots. You’re obviously very materialistic. You live mostly in a country, France, which is cowardly and openly hostile to the USA. We saved their sorry asses in WW2 and received no thanks or gratitude. I lost some dear friends on D Day and will never forgive the arrogance of these Parisian bastards today.
“My parents and grandparents were all born in the USA. They were not cowards running away from anything. Our children, grandchildren and great grandson all live in the USA and are proud to do so. They are not running away either. Our get-togethers with family and close friends of many years are both cherished and memorable. I know you flit around the world to your various houses but it sounds like you live a very shallow life. I feel sorry for you.”
And the counterpoint:
“I recently took a trip throughout the Mediterranean, and realized many things good and bad about America and the several countries I visited. Namely, America has a lot of space – I really love that. Europe and the Mediterranean do not. America is a lot cleaner. Athens is not. And, I am BLATENTLY American in so many categorical ways!
“However, I do want for change here. I am in such disagreement with the current perspective and policies of my government, that I am sometimes physically ill because of it. But, I know this too will pass.
“I understand why one person made the comment he/she did about your implied cowardice… but I think it was too harsh and essentially wrong.
“It is not about borders. It is not about geographic location. It is about people – friends and family. That is who we are in the larger social context – friends and family. We need to view the rest of the world as a family. Taking personal responsibility is the first step, and if that means traveling the world to educate our children or to educate ourselves – then so be it!
“I feel sorry for the individual who made the critical comment of you. I feel they should get out a little more and get to know the rest of the world, maybe come to see that we are all in the same boat.
“Some people will make you feel a like a stranger in a strange land, but that too can happen – even with your neighbor.
“Thank you for your insights and wisdom. We may be foolish in some ways, but the youth are trying to pay attention, regardless of the mistakes we’ve made.”
To our readers on both sides of the debate: keep your comments coming. Keep our lives interesting.