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.