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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Repeating the Year 2000 Disaster?

New “Third” Party choices might elect Donald Trump 

By Mitchell Zimmerman

By Mike Luckovich
Many Americans are unhappy about the likely 2024 choice being offered them for president – Joe Biden versus Donald Trump. But two third party alternatives surfaced recently: Jill Stein of the Green Party and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who appears to be seeking the “No Labels Party” nomination.

They join two other non-major-party candidates, anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and left-wing intellectual and activist Cornell West.

These candidates appear to offer voters a broad menu of political ideologies and beliefs from which to choose – from Kennedy’s contention that Americans are enslaved by vaccination record-keeping to Manchin’s claimed centrism to West’s plans for abolishing poverty and Stein’s condemnation of corporate-dominated politics.

One thing that is not on the third-party menu is an opportunity to vote for someone who could actually become president. There isn’t a ghost of a chance Jill Stein, Joe Manchin, Robert F. Kennedy or Cornell West will be elected.

Nonetheless, their campaigns could have a powerful impact: helping elect Donald Trump. The Green Party achieved an equivalent disaster before.

In 2000, the Green Party fielded a candidate, Ralph Nader, against Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. In what turned out to be a remarkably close election, the result turned on Florida.

Nader received 97,488 votes in the state, votes that otherwise would have tilted strongly in favor of Gore: In his book, Crashing the Party, Nader acknowledges that 13% more of his voters would have gone for Gore than for Bush. These 12,700 votes would have given Gore an indisputable victory.

Instead, the vote was close enough for a right-wing Supreme Court to be in a position to halt the voting when Bush was only 537 votes ahead, bestowing Florida – and the presidency – on Bush.

How did voting for the Green Party work out?

Foreign policy: The neocons around Bush had long targeted Iraq for overthrow. Following 9/11, they lied us into an invasion that led to 4,500 dead American soldiers, more than 165,000 dead Iraqi civilians, and a Middle East in the chaos that spawned ISIS.

Climate change: In Al Gore, we could have had a president in 2001 who really understood the climate threat. Instead, we had the pro-oil Bush presidency, initiating nearly two decades of political stagnation on the emerging climate crisis.

Democracy and constitutional rights: Bush got to appoint two right-wing Supreme Court justices, who joined three other Republican Justices to give us the 5-4 decision in the money-rules-all Citizens United case. The two Bush justices were also part of 5-4 majorities in cases that (1) invented a personal constitutional right to own firearms, and (2) eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, precipitating an avalanche of laws disenfranchising large numbers of minority, elderly, and youth voters.

Voting for Nader, the candidate who appeared to have stronger liberal credentials, proved to have far-reaching consequences – but the opposite of what most Green Party voters would likely have desired.

Third party candidates regularly tell us we’re entitled to express our own views in voting. But voting for President is not an exercise in personal expression and it is not like seeking your true love or dream candidate. Voting is what you do to effect the best outcome for your country among the real possibilities.

Read the Progressive Charlestown
review of this gripping political
thriller HERE.
The G.O.P. has ceased to be a normal party that respects majority rule and the rule of law, and Donald Trump has made clear his intentions of dismantling our democracy. Whatever flaws you may see in Joe Biden, he is the only actual alternative to Trump’s reign.

It’s as simple as this: If you vote for supposed “progressives” Jill Stein or Cornell West, you’re reducing the votes needed to stop Trump. 

Mitchell Zimmerman is an attorney, longtime social activist, and author of the anti-racism thriller Mississippi Reckoning.