Sunday, August 06, 2006

Farting into the wind

There is a big discussion about the state Senate race here in Cakeville (Senate 41) over at Minnesota Campaign Report. MCR makes the point that the Green Party’s Julie Risser may interfere with DFLer Andrew Borene’s chance of winning and beating the incumbent, Geoff “The Great Pretender” Michel. MCR points out that there isn’t that much difference between the positions of Borene and Risser, and then MCR asks essentially this question, “Julie, what the hell are you doing?” It’s a good question, and it has prompted 42 comments and counting.

Spot wants to weigh in, but of course a common comment won’t do! The DFLers comment that Julie may be screwing up the first chance for a DFLer to win in Edina since God was a child, or maybe forever. They add that Risser’s run is a vanity campaign, and that she has no chance of winning. All true.

The Greens, and Carol Overland who should know better, counter Nuh uh! Julie is ideological Ivory soap, 99.44% pure.

For Spot, the issue is who gets the caucus vote, the DFL or the Republicans? The answer is pretty easy when you frame it that way, and Spot says that’s the way to frame it. In the United States, third parties are farting into the wind. In parliamentary systems, like Canada on both the federal and provincial levels, and most other western democracies, third parties can make some sense. In these systems, the executive grows out of the legislative branch after each election. Third parties can help form coalitions that form governments, like the one in Canada at the present time. In a situation like that, the third party fights above its weight, because it is a deal-breaker. Laying aside the freakish incident of Jim Jeffords, that doesn’t happen in the US. (And Jeffords was a centrist, not a lefty.)

Although Ralph Nader and the Greens will deny it to their dying days, Nader cost Gore the presidency and sent the country on a downward arc that will take decades to reverse.

Spot says that the Green Party is more of a psychological phenomenon than a political one. Don’t believe it? Here’s a comment, among the 42 at MCR (from an Independent, apparently, not a Green, but it still echoes the third-party sentiment):

I’ll give a few critical elements, although not being a Green I might be off here and there. First off on the campaign trail the average Green is more liberal then the average Democrat, yeah there is absolutely some overlap (rarely seen in the same race), but the spectrum of Greens is farther to the left then the spectrum of Democrats. 2nd the lack of special interest money in most cases keeps them pure to their convictions, again there are Democrats and for that matter Republicans who can take special interest money without ridding themselves of their convictions but by taking it you open yourself up to temptation. 3rd their running as Greens which suggest to me they either their convictions are stronger then their desire to win, or they are convinced they will win on their convictions. There is no doubt in my mind that the long run result of third party success is they would become more and more like the Democrats or Republicans, but the initial phase of success will be based on convictions.

Look no further then Jesse Ventura he ran his convictions into the ground, never allowing polls or criticism to sway him from doing the things he said he would on the campaign trail. [italics are Spot’s]

Spot asks the question: Who do these people remind you of? (Hint: Sigmund Spot talked about them recently in More Juice I Say!) Spot thinks they are just progressive authoritarians, even though most authoritarians are Republicans. Inflexible, doctrinaire, and unwilling to compromise. But compromise is the art of politics. We’ll have to ask Sigmund Spot about his view of progressive authoritarians.

In the US, third parties just suck vitality out of the major party with which they are most closely aligned, and that is what Julie Risser does to Andrew Borene. The Greens will deny it, but it’s true.

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