Magazine article Tikkun

A Different Way to Vote Third Party

Magazine article Tikkun

A Different Way to Vote Third Party

Article excerpt

A Different Way to Vote Third Party

Dan Cantor is the WFP's executive director. For more information, call 718-222-3796 or check out www.votewfp.org.

This was not an especially exalted electoral season on the American left. Progressives across the country were presented with an old problem--vote for a less-than-perfect Democrat, or support a noble but doomed protest candidate and risk splitting the vote.

In the end, of course, it appears that the worst of all possible scenarios emerged. The Greens failed to reach 5 percent of the vote, and have not established themselves in any meaningful way. Plus they appear to have "spoiled" several Congressional races, and perhaps the presidency itself.

It would be a shame, however, if the lesson learned by progressives in this election is "Always Vote Democratic," because America truly does need an alternative to the corporate-dominated major parties. At the very least, progressives need a credible "threat of exit" to ensure that the Democrats remain accountable to our issues and values.

Fortunately, there is a way to build such a political party. This November, 100,000 New Yorkers expressed their dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party, and their support for a labor and community-based, multiracial alternative. But they were also voting to help elect Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. By voting on the Working Families Party line, these people in effect voted twice--once to support the better of the viable candidates for president and U.S. Senate, and once to help build a progressive minor party that can create real change in New York State.

This was possible because New York is one of a handful of states that still allow "fusion voting"--minor parties are allowed to cross-nominate candidates also running on one of the major party lines. So Al Gore and Hillary Clinton could run both on the Democratic Party line (Row B) and on the Working Families Party line (Row H). The votes are tallied separately, but count together to determine the winner.

The Working Families Party was formed in 1998 by a coalition of unions and community organizations. One wag put it this way: "The WFP is uniting the Bruce Springsteen vote, the Lauryn Hill vote, and the Pete Seeger vote under one banner." Less musically, the Party supports local living wage laws and a statewide increase in the minimum wage; universal health care; "clean money" campaign finance reform; increased investment in public schools; better workers' compensation benefits; and laws to make it easier for workers to organize unions, among other commitments. …

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