Monday, November 01, 2010

Show who's placed to win

The LA Times had an article a couple of days ago on the potential for some "third-party candidacies" to "shake up" several races. It reminded me of the always-vociferous, sometimes-nasty exchanges I've had about the role of third parties and the reasons to support (or refuse to support) them. The root argument against them, invariably, is that "independents are just spoilers who only hurt the candidate closer to them and so help the one further from them." Put another way, "they only damage their own cause." Put a third way, those who support such candidates are "pissing away their votes."

As someone who regularly (but, I will note, not exclusively) votes for third parties and more than once has run for office on a third party ticket, I obviously disagree. A while back, after one nasty exchange, I set out my own ideas on the importance and value of third parties, available for those who are interested at these four links.

But leave that aside to get back to the LA Times article. One of the "third party candidacies" mentioned was that of Kendrick Meek, mired in third place in the Senate race in Florida. Another was Scott McAdams, who, despite some improvement in his poll numbers, is still considered a long shot at best to win the Alaska Senate race.

The thing is, as I'm sure you know, Meek and McAdams are the Democratic party nominees for those seats - while the leaders in those races are in each case a conservative GOPper (Charlie Christ and Lisa Murkowski, respectively) and a certifiable nutzoid (Marco Rubio and Joe Miller). In neither case is either leader desirable, but in both cases one is arguably worse, especially as measured by a yardstick of a size normally wielded in rejecting third-party candidates.

So here's the question: Have you heard anyone, anywhere, any time, has anyone among the blogging Obamabots and their fellow-travelers - people always ready to gasp in horror at the notion of someone voting for (or, worse yet, running as) a Green or a democratic socialist or some other version of lefty because "You're only helping the Republicans! Is that what you want?" - have any of them even once called for Meek or McAdams to drop out because they're just "spoilers" who are helping the "worse" candidate?

As the saying goes, "Some questions need only be asked." Of course no one is saying that. Of course no one expects them to drop out. Why? Because they're Democrats! Because being part of the in-group, being in the major parties, playing the game according to the rules set down by that in-group composed of the major parties, exempts you from the requirements and expectations placed on those who want to change the rules and generate that "wider range of choices" so many claim - apparently falsely - to want.

Just how much are we as a political culture locked into that game, just how mentally trapped are we by those rules? Here's an example: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has done an ad buy in Alaska. Not to attack Miller. To attack Murkowski and to do it in terms echoing the right-wing mantra:
It characterizes her[, the Wall Street Journal says,] as having “gone Washington” by voting for big budgets and a Wall Street bailout.
I say with a very great deal of confidence that if all else had been the same - including the poll numbers, political records, and political and social convictions of all three - except that Murkowski was the Democrat and McAdams was the write-in candidate, we would hear peals of outrage in significant portions of the "progressive" blogosphere at how he was "attacking the Democrat" and "only helping the Republican." Instead, it's crickets - which says a lot about how much that concern about "third party spoilers" is truly about "not helping the worse candidate win" and how much is about just telling the left to STFU.

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