If you are a regular reader, then I expect that you can guess what I’m going to say when it comes to choosing the next president of the United States. If you call yourself a liberal, or a progressive, or a lover of individual liberty and reproductive choice; if you want quality, affordable healthcare to be accessible to all Americans, if you want to restore some modicum of equity to the tax code, and some degree of sanity to our foreign policy; if you want to approach energy independence and global warming with the seriousness and the urgency those matters deserve; if you want a government staffed with experts instead of ideologues that is led by a man who trusts his intellect enough to be intellectually curious—or even if you just want some portion of all this—then there is only one way to vote on Tuesday: Barack Obama for president.
BUT, if you live in New York, there are actually two ways you can vote for Obama—you can go the old, stodgy, predictable route, and pull the lever or mark your box for Barack Obama (D), Democrat, or, if you really, really believe in all that I laid out above, you can vote for Barack Obama (WFP), Working Families Party.
As I have discussed in elections past, New York has something called “fusion” voting; this allows a candidate to receive the endorsement of more than one party, and to be listed on the ballot under multiple party lines. All the votes for a single candidate, however, are combined to count for the final total. A vote for Obama on Row E—the Working Families Party line—counts just as much as a vote on the Democratic line. . .
. . . and more.
More, because the Working Families Party is more than a social club or the vestigial organ of some moribund New York political machine, the WFP is an active and organized party that has been fighting for progressive ideals for better than a decade. They stand for universal healthcare, tax equity, and equal representation under the law. They have lead fights for a living wage, for green jobs and green homes, and affordable housing. They advocate for better-funded public schools so that every child gets a quality education, no matter where he or she lives, and the public financing of elections to get the corrupting corporate money out of the system.
Earlier this month, WFP teamed with organized labor and local activists to protest New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Speaker Chris “Quisling” Quinn’s naked power grab vis-à-vis term limit “extensions.” The effort did not prevent Bloomberg from buying enough influence on the City Council to win his rule change, but working together, the WFP and the people of NYC made a lot of noise and called a lot of attention to the undemocratic way that the mayor and speaker went about overriding the existing law. Because of this effort, the fight to unseat these arrogant plutocrats next year has a big head start.
By voting for Obama—and for other cross-endorsed candidates—on the Working Families line, you are showing candidate and country that you stand for these kinds of progressive ideals. A vote for BHO (WFP) Row E shows that you want our next president to embrace the progressive potential that has brought you to his side.
By voting for state candidates on the WFP line, you will help shape the next generation of New York politics. Democrats are poised to gain the majority in the state senate for the first time in over 40 years, and thus will control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion. It will present a tremendous opportunity to reform a dysfunctional state government; a vote for the Working Families Party will give the left better leverage in the battles that lay ahead.
The Nation, The Albany Project, Daily Gotham, and Democrats.com have all endorsed a Row E WFP vote because they all know that strengthening the role of the Working Families Party is a solid step toward building a statewide progressive movement. Voting for Obama on the same line brings that voice to the national dialogue.
Barack Obama has promised change, and I truly believe that his election will noticeably transform the style and substance of our national leadership. What kind of change, how much change, and how directly that difference will affect the lives of hard working Americans, however, still hangs in the balance. The progressive direction advocated by the Working Families Party is the kind of change Democrats have been fighting for lo these many months and years—it is change we can believe in.