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Chernynkaya On April - 19 - 2010

We might just have discovered why Andy Stern is resigning as president of the SIEU. Today’s story in The Washington Post says that in Raleigh, N.C. frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at three Democratic congressmen and are trying to gather enough signatures to start a third party.  They are justifiably pissed off. The North Carolina congressmen (Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre) all sided with Republicans against the health-care bill. McIntyre even wants to repeal it. With Dems like these, who needs enemies? And here’s where Andy Stern comes in.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), probably the nation’s most politically powerful labor union, and its subsidiary (State Employees Association of North Carolina or SEANC), are funding the effort to start a third party, North Carolina First, which they announced on April 8. The news that Stern will step down was announced on April 14th.

“Our whole agenda is to turn that apple cart around and say, ‘No more are we going to blindly support you because you’re a Democrat,’ ” said Dana S. Cope, executive director of the 55,000-member SEANC, which is leading the effort.”We’re going to support you because you’re right on the issues and if you’re not right on the issues, we’re going to remove you from office.”

Chuck Stone, a longtime SEANC leader who is chairman of North Carolina First, asked: “Does it really matter if you put a Democratic label or a Republican label on them when they go up there and support big companies and big insurance?”

Andy Stern says this is a top priority and considers it a way to hold Democratic lawmakers accountable for their health care votes. “It’s not a fly-by-night kind of thing,” said an SEIU spokesperson. “We’re making a very strong commitment to doing this. There is significant money behind it . . . There’s not a ceiling to what we’re willing to do.”

I have a hard time arguing with their frustration and anger, but this is not the way. Or is it? We have seen how much press the Tea Party has gotten– way out of proportion to their numbers . More important, they have swayed Republican lawmakers and even moved some so-called Democrats to the Right. In short, while they have yet to elect anyone but Scott Brown, they have become a force to be reckoned with—or at least it seems so far.

We don’t know how or if the Tea Baggers will influence the upcoming elections, but I cannot deny that they have made an impact. They have Republicans running scared, and running so far out there as to become unrecognizable as sentient beings. Who is to say it does not behoove those of us on the Left to form a counter-force? And I am not just recommending a force that is anti-Tea Party, but an actual political group, with its own platform.

But here’s where the Tea Baggers (or should I say FreedomWorks and Koch) are smart: They are running their candidates –up until now as Republicans—in primaries. That’s how to get in the game. Not by becoming a third Party.

I have been hoping that the Tea Party would form a third Party because I know what that will do in November—bleed votes from Republicans. The same would be true if the Left ran third Party candidates. But perhaps this threat of a third Party is just a way to get some attention, while the real goal is to move the Democratic Party back to Center-Left. That is something I want to see happen. We do not really have a huge Democratic majority, what with all the DLC and Blue Dog Democrats. Yeah, I know—big tent/big shment. But there is a point when the tent becomes so big as to lose one’s identity as a Democratic tent.

“Health reform legislation is the most important piece of legislation for the past 40 years, and when you are asked as a member of Congress to vote on something that critical and you pick little teeny excuses, that’s cowardly,” said Greg Rideout, spokesman for North Carolina First. “It’s time for us to create a third way.”

There is no way a Congressperson can call themselves a Democrat and vote against the central piece of Democratic legislation in generations—and a moderate one to boot. There must be a way to single those DINO’s out and to vote them out. Running a third party candidate is not the way. But threatening to do that just might be.

One last note: If you are interested in learning why Teddy Roosevelt was the ONLY candidate to win the Presidency in a third Party, you can read it here.

What was his platform?

“To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.” – 1912 Progressive Party Platform.

Teddy Roosevelt  connected trusts and monopolies  to Woodrow Wilson and William Howard Taft, and consequently to Republicans and Democrats. Sounds familiar.

Categories: Featured

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

25 Responses so far.

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  1. WLA says:

    Heath Schuler was a shitty quarterback too. I’m just sayin’.

  2. Kalima says:

    I’m all set to vote in the U.K. May elections this year. Labour is dull and boring, the Tories are full of bs and helping their rich friends, the Liberal Dems are full of it, but full of what?

    There will never be a break away party to satisfy any of us either local or abroad, we demand too much. Do we chose our life long partners on the colour of their hair or the choice of their music, no, we chose them because of their similarities and differences to us. The way I view politic now, a third party is not the answer for me right now but I intend to vote.

  3. KQ says:

    I understand people’s frustrations with conservadems because I’m just as frustrated with them. But c’mon ZERO Republicans voted for HCR and to weaken the Democratic coalition more is just empowering the GOP. That being said I think third parties should focus on the local level. However believe me don’t have the delusion that more progressive candidates could win in the districts Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre occupy. Further left leaning third parties will only pick off the most liberal districts.

    My constant argument is that our legislator represents the political mood in this center right country until that political center changes. If you want to know what a center left country looks like then go no further than looking at British politics. They have three parties the Tories (right), Labour (center left) and Liberal Democrats (left) which are all polling around 30% now. Meanwhile back in the Ole USA the GOP is polling slightly ahead of the Dems.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      KQ, I realize that liberal Dems have no chance in conservative districts, and as you know, I agree with you about third parties. But where we might disagree is on the possibility of electing more centrist Dems in those districts. From my POV, it’s worth a shot. The alternative is a Republican. Now, a case can be made that even a conservadem is better than a stated Republican, but I don’t think so.

      For one thing, it is dishonest to pretend to embrace the platform of one party while voting with the other most of the time. For another thing, it gives the electorate the false impression that we have a majority, and thus should be able to pass more progressive legislation. That’s bad for the Party and bad for trust in legislators.

      • KQ says:

        Don’t get me wrong I think more centrist Dems should challenge these conservadems. I said what I did because you will never see progressive Dems even win primaries in a district like Schuler’s. I probable mangled the wording a bit by saying more progressive when I was really thinking of running a progressive Dem versus those candidates not a more center left Dem.

        I totally agree that conservadems misrepresented their position during the election. Most of them ran on HCR and did not even vote fro a centrist bill. That’s completely disgusting because they are trying to steal Dem’s values during elections and then vote against them in office. That’s one reason I applaud all the progressive Dems that voted for HCR even though it’s not the bill they wanted.

        Great point Dems have a false majority for sure. We found that out earlier on but I did not think it was that bad. Everything Obama originally asked for has been watered down.

        I think we can agree on this. If the Dems are going to be the big umbrella party let’s make sure we stop at centrists instead of nominating conservadems. One of the problems is with the media calling people like Shuler centrist or moderate when he’s really a conservative. The first way to move the country center left is to minimize the center right politicians in the Democratic Party. What do you think?

        • Chernynkaya says:

          I agree, and it has been a pet peeve of mine labeling Dems like Ben Nelson a moderate. I used to write authors who wrote that stuff and ask them, Does that make Chuck Shumer a Stalinist?

          And in districts that are conservative, even a centrist Dem may not be able to win-- hey, that’s democracy. I can’t complain, even if I wish it were otherwise.

          We can absolutely agree on how big a tent. This may surprise you, but I was kinda sorry to see Stupack decide not to run. He had this one conservative tic-- abortion. But on most other things that most Dems value, he was true blue. He should be in the tent, and I’ll even say that no matter where they are on the Left-Right spectrum, if they will vote for the majority of the Democratic agenda, I say let them stay. I sometimes surprise even myself.

          • KQ says:

            Exactly if you look through Ben Nelson’s voting record he’s a conservative by most measures. To call him moderate or centrist is just not accurate.

            The only reason to keep even a conservadem over a Republican is to maintain Democratic majorities, especially in the House. It would be criminal for all of Pelosi’s good work as speaker to be thrown away.

            I don’t mind Dems that are not in lock step with every Democratic issue. Personally anti-choice Dems are the hardest pill to swallow but seeing the reaction from Stupak’s district it did take political bravery to vote for the HCR bill without his amendment. The last thing I want is for Dems to become a mirror image of Republicans litmus tests and all they simply won’t represent their constituencies.

  4. dildenusa says:

    Our political leaders in Washington were caught napping while the Earth under them rumbled and trembled and they found themselves buried under an avalanche of anger across the entire political landscape. The Democratic representatives from center right districts who voted against health care reform for their own self preservation will probably get a kick in the butt anyway this November. I think they should have taken a GPS class before the vote on health care.

    Teddy Roosevelt was a true conservationist. Even though he was an avid sport hunter he came to understand that the natural world wasn’t something to exploit for short term economic gain, and that stewardship while noble still falls short.

    • KQ says:

      I think they would get their butts kicked either way which makes their cynical votes even more troubling.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I agree about the Conservadems-- they will have gained nothing for voting against HCR. Lincoln for example, will probably lose.

      TR is so interesting to me. A very colorful and good President. He could never have won as a Republican today!

      • choicelady says:

        Hi Cher -- I discovered that TR was rabidly opposed to all forms of family planning! He wrote a rebuttal to Margaret Sanger who had a very daring article in an early 20thC. Harper’s Magazine on birth control, and he went ballistic about it and wrote a thundering rebuttal -- thought you should have as many kids as possible. Product of an upper class unlimited financial mentality.

        Other than that and his US imperialism, both of which would make him square with the Reeps, he’d definitely NOT fit in today.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          C’lady, I didn’t know that about Teddy either. Nonetheless, I have to take into account that the times were different then. There are plenty of areas where I disagree with Roosevelt-- as you mention, he was an imperialist. I would still rate him in the plus column though, particularly for the Gilded Age.

  5. nellie says:

    Very nice article, Cher.

    I’m all for third parties as long as we have Instant Runoff Voting to ensure a reasonable election outcome. I wish SEIU would work on that aspect as well. The candidate is only part of the story. The election process plays a big part in the outcome.

    • SueInCa says:

      I think runoff voting would solve alot of problems for voters today. You could pick your 1, 2nd and 3rd choices and your vote is obviously going to go to one you endorse. Even though none of them may be in the final running, you still would know you had your own free choice. The idea of two candidates I think is becoming outdated.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Nellie, thanks for reminding me of that aspect. You have mentioned it before, and for some reason I always forget that important point. I too would be in favor of a third party with that crucial caveat! Frankly, there must be a way to primary in more progressive candidates.

      • nellie says:

        For now, the best strategy for progressives is to work within the Democratic Party, concentrating on primaries, getting challengers name recognition and money. We’re having a nail biter of a primary here in the 36th district in Los Angeles between Jane Harman and Marci Winograd. Winograd is a popular progressive political insider who managed to get 36% of the vote in the 2006 primary, a result that immediately impacted Harman’s voting patterns for the better. Now, with Harman having come out so strongly and affirmatively for Health Care Reform, including the Public Option — we’re in a real dilemma here.

        • choicelady says:

          Hi nellie -- I used to live in the 36th when it was the 31st (years ago!) and all I can say is that you may face the first ever win-win situation! Either way, you’d have a good candidate in a heavily Dem. district. In 2008 Harman got 69% of the vote, so I’d think either woman would win handily. What a nice dilemma to have!

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Nellie- can you please see my comment in the Help Desk? I can’t seem to figure out how to post a preview image. Thanks!

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Well, this would usually be an embarrassment of riches under normal circumstances. But if one considers Harmon’s hawkish, pro-Israel stance, I am rooting for Winograd. I have had mixed feelings about Harmon-- I would easily vote for her against most Dems and certainly against ANY Rep. And still might, if not for the hard Right position of the Netanyahu government now. Harmon’s had a rough few years.

          • choicelady says:

            Ah yes -- I’d forgotten that part of her make up. She and Boxer both are not good on this. I’d hate to lose Boxer though -- she’s so good on other issues!

            • Chernynkaya says:

              I am terrified of losing Boxer! Yes, she is pro-Israel, but I don’t feel she is particularly hawkish. I cannot understand why she is having such a tough race--even though I understand that most of it is just “throw all the bums out” mentality. She’s not a bum!

          • nellie says:

            I know what you mean. I hate to punish Harman when she was such a fighter for health care. I know she helped with the Blue Dog contingent in the House.

            It’s a tough call for me.

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