There has been much talk on DKos about 3rd parties, whether people who vote for the them in the next election are good or bad, whether 3rd parties have any shot at winning, or even if the advocacy of 3rd parties is legitimate on DKos? This is not a diary about any of those questions. For the record, I will be voting for Obama in the next election, but that doesn't really matter as far as this diary goes. I am not trying to change the mind of those who cannot, in good conscious, vote for Obama. Rather, if you cannot vote for Obama, at least make your vote count.
I would like to say this is friendly advice, but to be honest it isn't. I don't like the fact that you will not be voting for Obama and other Democrats, but that's not why I am writing this. The problem is that the anti-Obama/Democratic Party progressives cannot seem to start any kind of political/social movement at all--you are less effective than the Naderites were, and that's really fucking pathetic.
Those who oppose Obama/Democrats from the left have two choices at this point. Challenge Obama and conservative Democrats in the primaries or support a 3rd party in the general election. I have absolutely no problem with primary challenges. Kucinich ran in the primaries, and more power to him for doing it. That is what the primary system is for, and I may very well vote for progressive candidates in the primaries (depending on a ton of criteria).
I do have problems with those who want to challenge Obama from the left in the general election. I believe that it may well hand the election to the Republicans, and I do believe that the Republicans are far, far worse than Obama or the Democrats, but again, this is not what I am debating here.
All of you anti-Obama/Democrat progressives don't have a candidate. Its getting way past time to announce or at least intimate a primary challenge. We are getting very close to the time when a general election challenge would need to begin. At this point, no anti-Obama progressive is visiting Iowa or New Hampshire. No anti-Obama progressive has set up an exploratory committee. The anti-Obama progressives cannot even name a serious candidate that would actually run. The people suggested by anti-Obama progressives on DKos--Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, Howard Dean, Anthony Weiner, Denis Kucinich--have either explicitly said they would not run or given absolutely no indication that they are even vaguely interested. To be frank, every time I hear any of those names suggested, I know the person suggesting them doesn't know what the fuck they are talking about.
I imagine that many of the anti-Obama progressives who have made it thus far are thinking, "Its not about the general election, we need to build the movement from below. We need to create a new, viable 3rd party or take over the democratic party!" I'm actually good with all that, while I am a pragmatist in my voting, ultimately I believe in Scandinavian style socialism. Bernie Sanders is a little bit to the right of me. If you all can get a viable socialist party together, I am all in.
And that's exactly where you are fucking up.
You need a national candidate. The national candidate brings attention. They can get into the televised debates, or at least raise a ruckus when they are denied participation. They can campaign with local progressives, bringing cameras and people with them. They can get on national television and argue your cause. I think we all know damn well that any far-left candidate is going to lose, whether in the primary or the general election. The goal is not to win, but rather to push the agenda, to move the Overton Window leftward.
In 2000 (less so in 2004), Ralph Nader and his supporters did just that. They campaigned across the nation, they campaigned with local progressives, and they organized the far left, taking almost 3% percent of the national vote. More-so, Nader had a lasting impact. The rhetoric I am hearing from the anti-Obama/Democratic progressives is almost exactly what I heard from Nader a decade ago.
"There is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans."
"We must end corporate personhood."
"Congress is a fully owned subsidiary of corporate America."
Nader had a real impact, and though I will hate him to my dying breath, he engaged in effective political action. You anti-Obama/Democratic party progressives owe Nader a debt of gratitude, because he is very simply your greatest champion and the founder of your movement. And yet you haven't learned his basic lesson--you need a fucking candidate on the national level.
I don't want you to run a 3rd candidate in the general election. I'm OK with a primary challenge, though I will likely vote for Obama. In either case, though, you are serving a useful purpose. You are demonstrating the true size and power of the progressive left, and showing the nation that there are other options.
What I cannot abide is all you wasting your votes and remaining mute. Without a candidate, you have no voice and you have no power. Simply put, nobody knows what you are saying when you don't speak. These days, about 45% of folks are opposed to HCR--but we know that a sizable number come from the left, not the right. Yet, that detail is never remembered in the national debate. All of you on the left are lumped in with the Republicans and the teabaggers. In the next election, if you choose not to vote, if you choose to vote for some 3rd party that is not known to the American public, if you write in random people--your voice will not be heard. You will be labeled as part of the apathetic middle. Everyone will think you are part of the 50% of Americans who simply don't care.
So, anti-Obama/Democratic party progressives...I don't agree with your decision to vote against Obama, but I am enraged by your pathetic organizing skills. You all are acting like you are the future of America, and you can't even get a candidate on a ballot. If you want to be taken seriously, time to get serious. I may criticize your candidate, I will likely never vote for him/her--but at least your voice will be heard and maybe you can shift the debate leftward. Right now you all look like a bunch of whiners. You scream and call names, but you are doing absofuckinglutely nothing to move the debate. At this point in the election cycle, you are not even as effective as the Naderites, and that's embarrasing. Even though I will oppose you, you could serve a valuable role, if you just got off your asses.