Monday, August 18, 2003

Fusion ballot question
I missed this earlier this week: Labor weasel Rand Wilson, of Mass. SEIU and Jobs with Justice, is forwarding a ballot question to allow fusion tickets in Massachusetts: ["Ballot initiative seeks to boost political clout of third parties"]. Once again, Dr. Jill Stein nails the problem right on the head:

"Fusion voting encourages back room deals between parties," said former Green Party gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein, who won about 3.5 percent of the vote in last year's election. "It's not the parties that need more power, it's the people who need a bigger voice."
Absolutely. The article continues:

A better alternative, Stein said, is "instant run-off" elections, which allow voters to cast ballots for more than one candidate. If their first choice doesn't win, the vote transfers to their second choice. Under the plan, a liberal voter could cast their first vote for the Green Party candidate and their second for the Democratic candidate. If the Green Party candidate lost, the vote would go to the Democratic candidate rather than being lost, said Stein.
'You are correct sir,' as Ed McMahon used to say. IRV would not only increase the power of voters but it would also increase the power of the third parties at the same time. IRV allows voters to do what they want, without being scared. And, if they choose to, the voters can give the lesser of two evil candidates their second vote or third votes. It is as simple as that. With IRV, there is no need for tricky fusion schemes or power-plays between the powerful players.
So why call Rand a weasel?
Well, you see, Rand and his ilk don't want to increase the power of third parties. Actually, they want to thwart the power of independents and have done so on any number of occasions.
The SEIU, along with many of the other unions, has done everything it could to keep third party and independent candidates down in Massachusetts. I know this from firsthand experience in my 1998 congressional race, and I have seen how the unions attacked the Greens in 2000 and 2002.
In 1998, I was kept out of at least two labor sponsored forums because I was an independent candidate, even though I had a better labor record than half the Democrats running! I was also the only candidate running who actually worked to stop job stealing trade deals like NAFTA and GATT. I possessed copies of the treaties! But my candidacy - and that of Republican Phil Hyde - was silenced by the labor organizers.
In 2000, everyone knows how Nader was treated by organized labor. Sure, he got a couple of endorsements. But otherwise, he was treated like a pariah even after all he had done for workers in his 35-plus years of activism.
The Greens were the only political body to stand with the striking office cleaning workers last year while - for the most part - the Democrats didn't do jack shit.
After the strike was settled, members of the SEIU fawned all over the Democratic nominee for governor, Shannon O’Brien, and all the help she supposedly gave, yet ignored the Greens like they had a disease or something. I will never forget this female Latina organizer going on and on during a television news program about O'Brien for all she did for the effort when she was nowhere in sight! However, Jill Stein and James O'Keefe, both statewide Green Party candidates, marched with the strikers and even mentioned their cause in debates and press releases and yet were ignored by labor after everything was settled.

I will never forget a meeting I - and other members of the New England Fair Trade Council - attended with Rand and others organizing the effort to kill GATT in 1994. Bob Baughman and I made the push that we should threaten and even take on the Democrats in the next election cycle if they didn't try to stop President Bill Clinton, and the free trade Democrats and Republicans. Rand had a hissy fit, saying we couldn't challenge the Democrats because they did so many other good things. Bob and I looked at each other, thinking, 'What the hell are we doing here then?' The meeting was about trade; not other issues. All the other labor folks sat silently and followed Rand's lead. In the end, the unions didn't do anything, the Democrats were protected, and GATT passed - costing our country millions of union jobs.

I have never supported fusion. The Rainbow Coalition’s Mel King always promoted it as one of the solutions to the progressive’s dilemma. But I have always felt that it would be a distraction - even if it were politically interesting. Fusion would cause disruption within the third parties - yes, even more than the Gore loss in 2000. Voters should have the guts and integrity to stand by the candidate they want to vote for and not be distracted by the schemes to merge the minor parties with the major parties. And the major parties should do what they can to give us reasons to vote for them.
However, I admit that I have warmed to the idea of some proportional representation strategy like IRV in order to remove the stigma from casting a vote for third party and independent candidates.
However, the people sponsoring this petition cannot be trusted, and this proposal should be defeated.

Fair & Balanced
From Dan Kennedy this morning, blog has posted a number of Web sites that have decided to name their Web sites "Fair & Balanced" in honor of FoxNews' supposed trademark of the slogan: ["Who's Fair & Balanced"].