Nader fighting for ballot access
Ralph Nader is still fighting to be on the ballot in November. The independent presidential candidate and Winsted native will be turning in signatures today to the Secretary of the State in Hartford with hopes ...
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#1 Aug 6, 2008
Stephen Smith: Don't call them 'spoilers'
August 5, 2008
Who are the spoilers in this presidential election? Ralph Nader probably leads the list. After all, to most misinformed voters he cost Al Gore the 2000 election. How about Libertarian Bob Barr? Will he ''take'' votes away from John McCain?
I find it unwarranted and undemocratic to label third party candidates ''spoilers.'' Any person other than Republican or Democrat running for office is a contender. They are representing millions of voters who want a change from the political norm. The real spoilers are actually the two-party system and to some extent the news media, The Morning Call included.
To me, the definition of political spoiler means someone or group throwing a monkey wrench into the campaign of a certain candidate or party. The first successful tactic to diminish political parties came in the late 1880s during the transition from the voice vote to the paper ballot. The Republicans and Democrats joined forces to create ballot-access laws, leaving it up to each state to set requirements for other parties to be on their ballot. This was to ensure the re-elections of their own candidates.
Over the past 125 years, stricter requirements were added. Not automatically allowing third-party presidential candidates to be on every state ballot is suppressing freedom of representation. Imagine the uproar from Republicans and Democrats if Obama or McCain were not on the Pennsylvania ballot. Why are different rules set in law to stifle third parties?
The next monkey wrench came in 1998 in the form of the Commission for Presidential Debates. Created by the two main parties, the its main role was to replace the impartial League of Women Voters, which ran our presidential debates. The reason was that in 1996, when Independent Ross Perot entered the debates he received 19 percent of the national vote. Since then, no third party presidential candidate has received more than 5 percent. The commission more than tripled the requirements for people like Nader, Barr, etc. to debate. The commission, whose chairmen are lobbyists, is funded by corporate contributions.
The 1996 elections meant America was ready for change. Voters proved our two-party system was not representing them and outside parties were being taken seriously, just as it was from the creation of our Constitution until the 1880s. Again, the hammer to suppress representation stifled that movement.
#2 Aug 6, 2008
Continued- Stephen Smith: Don't Call Them Spoilers
Recently, the Bonusgate affair emerged in Pennsylvania. In part, some Democratic operatives have been charged with illegally using taxpayer money to challenge Mr. Nader's 2004 ballot requirements. They took his name off the ballot and froze his bank accounts. My tax dollars being used to banish my candidate ... how undemocratic!
The news media also play the spoiler against Nader and others. Third party candidates get less than 5 percent of broadcast time and written news space. The media should not take sides. Our electoral process and its coverage are far from fair and balanced. Not allowing equal press coverage gives voters the mind set that a vote for Nader is wasted. Voters need to adhere to the words of socialist Eugene Debs who stated,''Better to vote for someone you believe in and lose, than vote for someone you don't believe in and win.'' Equal representation leads to a more informed voter and puts third parties in contention, putting to rest the ''can't win'' mentality.
Now that the real spoilers are exposed, what are we to do? For myself, I resigned from the Democratic Party in 1998 and registered Independent. I voted for Nader in all his presidential runs because I believed in his platform.(Go to votenader.org for that info). I volunteered to gather signatures to have his name appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. And, I became aware that during this 125-year two-party hierarchy, we need to broaden our political horizon, not narrow it.
To quote a Chinese proverb I first heard from Mr. Nader,''To know and not to do is not to know.'' That leaves it up to the voters and those in the news media. What are you going to do?
Stephen C. Smith lives in Bethlehem.
Since: Jul 08
#3 Aug 11, 2008
It's not the message, it's the way you present it. This long second hand copy your friend's friend's friend wrote is, in a microcosm, why you and your ilk will never enjoy mainstream success.
A word of advice to you Peace and Freedom folk: Ralph Nader has played his part. He drew national attention to your party. Now he is the single biggest threat to your cause. If people forever associate your party with Ralph, if in the public's eye it's the Ralph party, it will die.
For a party that's all about switching up the political process you have a rigidly formulaic election process. Is Ralph Nader honestly the most qualified, most electable, person your diverse party can come up with, or just the most vocal? Because he's certainly not very marketable. These things matter. They shouldn't, but they do.
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