Thursday, September 11, 2008
On Gender Politics and 3rd Party Candidates...
(This is an interesting short video from VOA on 3rd parties and our election process. It is actually part of a series that may be of interest to many Americans on the whole electoral process. Personally I think it time for some changes in the system. These races would be much different if the campaigns were publicly funded with limits on spending. Too much of our government is bought by media controlling interests and big money advertising campaigns.)
The major party conventions are over and the final political battles of this election cycle are underway. In less than two months we will have a newly elected President of the USA. I still say you've gotta be nuts to want the job, but I probably don’t have an adequate understanding or appreciation for the desire of political power.
The biggest surprise to come out of the Republican convention was the nomination of Sarah Palin, Alaskan governor, as VP candidate with McCain. I did catch her speech at the convention and was reasonably impressed. It is obvious to me that she is a better speaker than McCain...and of course her attractive female image doesn’t hurt in helping people "like" her. Yet, reasonable minds need to think about why she was chosen out of all the thousands of political “wannabes” in the Republican Party. Some of my speculations on this are:
• Since Obama didn’t bring on Hillary, McCain decided to get a leg up by nominating a woman to go after woman and independent voters. Women after all are a majority of the voting public...
• A relatively young, vivacious woman would help counter McCain’s aging image problems...
• Being an unknown "newbie" in government, much like Obama himself...she would supposedly have less baggage or political enemies and support a message for "change" in government. I'm not sure in the aftermath if that has proven true...
• Her being a married mother of 5, with a recent addition of a downs syndrome baby, would help the party identify with family issues and present an image of attending to special needs people ...being more "humanitarian"...caring for the "little people"...than their image typically represents...
While it's hard not to like Palin or respect all her accomplishments in a short period of time, I still had these questions for the party after all the hoopla had settled on this convention and VP choice:
• Is Sarah Palin truly the most qualified and gifted person you could find in the party to be the fallback President of the USA if something happens to McCain should they win?
• Is a mother of FIVE, spanning in ages from 1 to 19, really going to have the time and energy required for the second (or eventually THE) highest office in our country...without detriment to her responsibilities as a mother? Does this job fall under the "equal opportunity employer" federal acts?
• Since this is a potential "Commander In Chief" position, is Ms Palin truly the most capable leader to command the world's largest military forces?
Now, I know some may construe my questions as being "sexist". That is not where I am coming from. I would have the same concerns if she were an attractive WASP male from Alaska with the same circumstances and pedigree. I do believe her family responsibilities should come first...whether male or female. I think her experience as a small town mayor and less than 2 years as a state governor are suspect credentials...whether male or female. I think some of her comments that conflict with historic realities about her politics are suspect...whether male or female. It's interesting that McCain would make such an issue about Obama's lack of experience and readiness for the job in the campaign...and then bring on someone with arguable FEWER qualifications in this arena. After all...at least Obama won his party's nomination through direct effort and politicking in his party.
At the end of all the convention season, I come away still not knowing how either of these parties are going to execute on all their promises. None of them represent solid propositions on how they are going to pay for all our wars, national health insurance, restore our economy and confidence in our markets. I hear very little detail about how we are going to COMPETE against the globe for jobs and industry. I hear nothing about how they plan to restore our currency to equitable value against most major foreign currencies. No...it continues to be blah blah blah about how bad the OTHER guy or party is. Total negativity and politics as usual. Hard to cast a vote for either of these major parties.
Which brings us to the question of what's happening with the third party prospects? Not since Ross Perot has there been a viable 3rd party candidate who had a chance. I think the video above captures the main reasons for that. The USA democracy is heavily weighted in the favor of who has the money. Elections are bought and sold every cycle. I will probably vote third party this time, but I'm still not sure which.
You can get a pretty good summary of this year's third party candidates at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_third_party_presidential_candidates with link outs to various independent sites of most every candidate. Here is my handicapping of 3rd party candidates so far:
RON PAUL: Would be my preferred candidate based on his experience, positions and agenda...but since he has not jumped to a 3rd party at this time, he is not up for election. I mention him only to note that Bob Barr of the Libertarian party invited him to be his VP nominee to which Ron Paul declined.
BOB BARR: While the Libertarians are probably closest to my personal platform preferences, I'm not sure Bob Barr is the best representative they could find for their party. He has political experience to be sure which is why I think they nominated him, BUT his history of positions is very contrary to Libertarianism when it comes to legalization of drugs, same sex marriage, the Patriot Act, pro Iraq War...most positions of which he has recently flip flopped on. I then have to ask the Libertarians..."this is the best candidate you could find to represent your agenda?" (The best definition of Libertarianism I could find is at http://www.theihs.org )
RALPH NADER: Nader is running "Independent Party" this year. Ralph is probably the ultimate "consumer's advocate" when it comes to fighting or pointing out big governments role in major industries such as automotive, oil and gas, lack of environmental protections and food controls. He has affiliated with a number of political parties and organization, best known for his Green Party activism and leaning "Democratic" in social causes. His commitment and consistency is commendable, but his views have probably been too narrow and extreme to win him popular votes for President. Plus, he doesn’t represent "traditional" values as a single, never married, Arab American. My favorite recent quote from him was when asked by MSNBC's Tim Russert about the possibility of his preventing a Democratic victory in 2008, Nader responded, "Not a chance. If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, and emerge in a different form."
CHUCK BALDWIN: Constitutional Party. Baldwin is a Baptist minister from Pensacola, FL, a former "Moral Majority" leader who has since broken off from the Republican Party and the old guard of the "moral majority" as too political and pro-Bush. He is heavily against illegal immigration and campaigning to free the two border agents who are in jail for shooting two illegal immigrants. He also supports the "New World Order" conspiracy theories that pervade many ultra religious conservative's views. The party's support for a return to a constitutional federal government is appealing to me, but some of his pure religious jargon would lose a majority of American voters. I do have to give him kudos for his support of Ron Paul, support of citizen's privacy and taxation with representation, as guaranteed in the USA constitution.
CYNTHIA MC KINNEY: Green Party. I guess the Green Party is joining the parade of running on race and gender by making a black woman their candidate this year. I suppose some of her anti Nuclear waste positions would qualify her as "Green", but other than that, she seems quite radical and way too liberal to have any chance of attracting voters for the Presidency. Her support for Leftist candidates in the Americas, including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, just leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.
Those are the main, longer standing independent parties or candidates on the scene. There are many more independent wannabes and extremists we could name, but I don’t want to waste your or my time on them.
I would close in saying what I have said before on this blog...I believe strongly in exercising our right to vote in our democracy...and to vote our CONSCIENCE, not for whoever is winning the "popularity contest" promoted by media, big money and parties. If "the people" never demand and support change with their VOTING RIGHTS, they will either lose those rights, or nevertheless have to accept the government they deserve.
I will continue looking for data on these 3rd party candidates between now and the election...all the while wondering where and why our REAL leaders are hiding.