My friend Mike Krsiean, spending little money in a huge U.S. House District in Wisconsin, still managed to come away with three percent of the vote (over 7,000 votes) in the recent mid-term election. Given the obstacles he had, I think this is an impressive result.
I have associated myself with non major parties like the Libertarians and the Constitutionalists without becoming full fledged members and I have written a book on what they can do to help improve their vote totals, but I believe the 2010 election has shown where independent candidates for high political office may be more successful in the future than non-major party based ones.
If you spend your time at the website Independent Political Report (and big thank you to Red Phillips for posting my piece on The Non-Partisan Legislature) you can see all the local offices parties like the Greens, Libertarians and Constitutionalists have won across the country. What you’ll find is in many cases these elections are non-partisan. You can see how it helps. But winning local offices hasn’t helped such parties win offices on the state and national level where its still a two-party game. There still is not a flow upward and I’m not sure if it will ever take place. The barrier which exists which keeps people from voting Green or Libertarian or Constitutionalist is strong one. My friend Ben Manski lost his bid for the Wisconsin State Assembly because voters in the district were still loyal to the Democrats and couldn’t bring themselves to vote for someone representing another party even this person was the better candidate. Its unfortunate but its the way many in the U.S. vote.
But I don’t think voters are as adverse to voting for independents than for minor parties. After all, an independent won an election for governor of Rhode Island and may still win a U.S. Senate seat. An independent finished second for the U.S. Senate in Florida and governor in Maine. We have two independents sitting in the U.S. Senate. Looking to the future, especially in areas where there’s one-party domination, independents may well be the only candidates who can offer competition compared to the non-major parties.
Obviously a political party gives one an advantage of the label already on the ballot and presumably the support or party activists. But candidates still have to gather signatures anyway to get on in most if not all states and really, how much activist support does a candidate really get from the non-majors? It depends on how strong the party is I guess. Unfortunately such parties are still dealing with energy-sapping, money wasting and time consuming morass of factionalism, which will only get worse when lines are draw for persons to compete for their presidential nominations.
We saw in the exit polling how unpopular the two major parties are and I know how many time I and others heard the phrase “I wish there was another party.” There are many, many parties in the U.S. but no one votes for them. There’s usual talk of a centrist third major party but that’s all it is talk and who would be dedicated enough to support it, fund it and knock on doors for it? “Centrism” is not a belief, its posturing and positioning, nothing more. The Independence Party of Minnesota is a good example of a “centrist” non-major party which basically spoils gubernatorial elections and that’s about it.
What’s needed is more people willing to stand up for themselves and their region like my friend Mike Krsiean did instead of standing up for a party. Obviously if we had a parliamentary system which entirely based on party, it would be different. If we wish to claim American “exceptional ism” to the rest of the world, then we need more independent candidates, not political parties.