Tea Parties, Other Parties & Their Candidates for Governor
A recent poll financed by NBC and the Wall Street Journal asked Americans their opinions about the current state of affairs in domestic politics. One of the findings in this poll was that Americans view the Tea Party positively by 31% and negatively by 30%. That’s better than the Republican Party (30% positive, 42% negative) and the Democratic Party (37% positive, 42% negative) alike. Hence the widely touted headline: “Tea Party More Popular Than Both Political Parties”.
Of course there wasn’t much said about the follow-up question asking respondents if the Tea Party would “be a third party that you would be interested in voting for this year for Congress”. Only 21% said yes, and 54% said no.
Asked if what they thought about the two party system, only 15% thought it works well, 52% thought the system needed improvements and 31% felt that a third party was needed. (2% were not sure.)
Traditionally third parties in the United States have arisen out of or in response to broad social movements. Most –like the temperance parties of the 1800’s– rise and fall within a few years as the core issues underlying them are absorbed into the platforms of the mainstream political organizations. Third parties are also historically prone to sectarian infighting, which tends to limit their broad appeal.
On The Right Side of the Political Equation
Today’s Tea Partiers can trace their ideological heritage back to the American Liberty League, a group funded by the members of the Dupont family to oppose FDR’s policies in the 1930’s. Many researchers have pointed to early funding and support for the Tea Party movement from the ultra-wealthy Koch family. Like many of their descendants, the Liberty League maintained a close relationship with the GOP; most of the League’s 1935 Congressional program was incorporated into the 1936 Republican platform. And, similarly, the League garnered extensive coverage in the mainstream media: The New York Times gave the League front-page billing 35 times between August 1934, and November 1936.
Tea party groups in California have offered supportive receptions for variety of candidates on the right. Some have stayed within the GOP; others have gravitated towards the Libertarian and American Independent Party. One thing is for sure, the divisions within the Tea Party movement are likely to prevent its actual coalescence into a true third party.
On the right, there is only one contested primary for Governor.
The American Independent Party
The America Independent Party dates back to 1967, when it was created to support segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s campaign for President. In the past it has gone through a series of mergers with other right wing parties including the Constitution Party, the U.S. Taxpayers Party and the Populist Party. In 2008, the AIP suffered a political schism, with some members breaking off to support the candidacy of Alan Keyes and the America’s (note the apostrophe) Independent Party.
Chelene Nightingale: Has the blessings of the National Constitution Party and claims links to libertarian standard bearer Representative Ron Paul, the Oath Keepers and the Tea Party. Immigration, closing down the Federal Reserve, states rights and opposing legislation that will lead to the creation of a New World Order are some of her issues.
Markham Robinson: Hailing from Vacaville, this candidate lacks a website. He was elected Chair of the apostrophe faction in 2008, so I guess he’s on the ballot representing this splinter of a splinter party. I did find some info on the League of Women Voters site: Top Three Priorities: Rigorously apply 10th Amendment to US/California relations including our water and land rights to the 50% of California claimed by the US. Balance budget including selling 20% of CA owned by State and other property. Lower taxes & deregulate California business.
On The Left Side of the Political Equation
The term “left” is generally used to describe groups that voice support for social change with a view towards creating a more egalitarian society. The terms Left and Right date back to the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in parliament; those who sat on the left generally supported the radical changes of the revolution; those who sat on the right were supporters of the monarchy.
Most of the contemporary leftist groups in the United States stem from the anti-war/anti-racist movements of the 1960’s and the ecologically centered organizations that arose during the 1970’s. There were mass socialist and communist parties in the United States in the first four decades of the 1900’s; their influence waned in the post World War Two era in the face of domestic denigration and rampant sectarianism internationally. Many of the New Deal idealists that found themselves draw to the popular causes of the left in the 1930’s were repelled as the train wreck formerly known as the Soviet Union failed in its premise of becoming a workers paradise.
The Green Party
The Green Party of the United States burst onto the national consciousness in 1996 when Ralph Nader agreed to be placed on Green Party of California’s March 1996 primary ballot. Eventually Nader ended up representing the Party on 22 state ballots. This campaign led to the coalescence of many regional groups into a national party. Currently the party appears on the ballot in 33 states. Here are their current contenders in the gubernatorial race:
Deacon Alexander: Perennial southern California activist Alexander proudly touts his progressive history, which includes past membership in the Black Panther Party and organizing immigrant farmers. Money quote: “True social justice, non-violence in word and deed, ecological wisdom that we can all believe in. And a real grassroots democracy effort, from Skid Row in LA to San Diego, from Bakersfield to Orange County, from Oakland to Marin County, and on to Sacramento!”
Laura Wells: Hailing from the East Bay, her essay relating to the good and the bad aspects of Proposition 13 is worth a read, even if you can’t be bothered to vote for a minor party candidate.
Peace and Freedom Party
The Peace and Freedom Party can trace its origins back to January 1967. The first registration drive began at a demonstration against LBJ at the Century City Plaza in LA.
In 1968 the party appeared on the ballot in 13 States. Since that time, however, the Peace and Freedom Party has been mainly a California phenomenon. In 2008 they supported the candidacy of Ralph Nader, who appeared under their banner on the ballot. And this year’s candidates are:
Stewart Alexander: On the heels of his 2006 candidacy for California lieutenant governor and his 2008 U.S. vice presidential candidacy for the Socialist Party, Alexander has jumped in the race for Governor. He absolutely takes the cake for long-windedness. www.stewartalexandercares.com
Carlos Alvarez: Is another long time activist who ran for Mayor of Los Angeles last year. In addition to his Peace and Freedom Party membership, he also represents the Party for Socialism and Liberation, not to be confused with the Socialist Party mentioned above.
Mohammad Arif: Peace and Freedom candidate from Kern County, with no secondary party memberships. He’s got one helluva platform, including doubling the minimum wage and a thirty hour workweek. He does not have children who can teach him how to use the internet. Lamest. Web. Page. Ever. www.mohammadarif.com
There are even more candidates for the Big Office, not affiliated with any party. But, hey, this is the primary. We’ll get around to them come the General Election.
Next Up: Louie, Louie and Other Minor Offices
Go HERE for part one.