This train of thought began with Briahna Joy Gray's observations (below) on the OH-11 special election about which I blogged earlier this week. The replies were full of Democratic loyalist trolling, which is typical for one of Briahna's Tweets. After all, she has actively campaigned to get Senator Not a Real Democrat (I-VT) nominated for the presidency. Normally I avoid wading into such an environment; however, the trolling included some abuse of the term "progressive" that I could not leave unanswered.
It chaps my whole nether region when I see centrist, incrementalist Democrats referred to as "progressive." It irks me even more deeply when that leads to McCarthyite tropes hurled at anyone to the left of Nancy Pelosi, as happened later in the thread.
The question in my reply had a twofold purpose:
My reply made no reference to the Green Party itself. But of course my Twitter bio is quite candid regarding my partisan affiliation. So, relevant to nothing in particular, up came the "What Has the Green Party Ever Done?" line of argument. To that I replied (not shown below), "Far more than a single Tweet can encapsulate" and promised to put a complete answer on this site later. Well, more complete anyway, because I'm sure that my bulleted list below leaves out some important achievements.
Votes continue to trickle in, so we can't really report any final scores yet. However, I am fairly confident something about which I can humblebrag: in Texas's 2020 US Senate race, None of the Above outpolled me.
As of now, the Secretary of State's tally shows more than 80,000 votes in the Green column. The difference in total votes cast for president and US senator is about double that. I can't provide a link to it here, since the SOS elections results page is temporary, to be replaced eventually by the standard archival HTML page (like this one from 2018).
This is eerily reminiscent of 2014, the tale of which I have recounted numerous times since then. In that general election, incumbent county judge Ed Emmett received 403,763 votes to my 80,486; the undervote for county judge was over 203,000. This is not a case of 200,000 Harris County residents saying we don't like either of those clowns, but rather, we voted the straight Democratic ticket and totally didn't notice that there was no Democrat in that race.
The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature retired one-punch voting back during the 2017 session, to the great disgruntlement of Democrats on Austin's Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Very few other states even allow it.
At least Libertarian Kerr McKennon, with his 207,000 votes, can claim to have defeated NOTA. He didn't earn the necessary 2% to extend ballot access for his party, but four other Libertarian candidates did in their statewide races. The undervote totals were considerably larger in those races, in the range of 300,000.
In Maine's US Senate race, Green-Independent nominee Lisa Savage drew 4% of the vote, which is pretty respectable for a third-party run but far less than we'd forecast. With four candidates on the ballot there, Ranked Choice Voting would have kicked in if incumbent Susan Collins (no relation) had not polled more than 50%. Collins's tally hovered around 59% for much of Election Night, but as late returns came in, her share drifted below that 50% level. She rebounded to claim a bit less than 51%.
If independent candidate Max Linn's second-choice ballots had been distributed, I'm fairly sure they would have put Collins back over 50%; if they didn't and it came down to Savage's second-choices, Democrat Sara Gideon may have made it a tight squeeze for New England's sole Republican in Congress.
Warning: I use the word I in this post quite more than I normally like to, especially at the beginnings of paragraphs.
I would like to express humble and sincere gratitude to David Martin Davies and Texas Public Radio for the opportunity to present my case on yesterday's Texas Matters podcast. My conversation with Davies, which lasted about 20 minutes, was edited down to about ten. It means a lot that Texas and US media outlets are even recognizing the existence of the Green Party, even if it took something like getting kicked off the statewide ballot for them to notice.
I hope that nobody listening to the podcast gets the idea that I am personally bitter or even upset about my candidacy being canceled; however, I am appalled at how establishment Democrats resort to such tactics, and not just in Texas. In the next week or so I hope to post a summary of party-suppression activities in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.
I am also grateful that the latter part of the interview did not survive the editing process. Davies tacked into the same question that media types have been asking Greens, when they do bother to cover us, for the last 20 years, to which we have been giving the same answer for 20 years, and which media outlets never seem to remember. It was, of course, the Dreaded Spoiler Effect Question!
As is my habit, I answered the question Davies asked. I did not redirect the question into something like Y'all have been asking that same question since 2000, and our answer hasn't changed much, so can we please move on to questions of policy, and how our platform addresses hot topics like climate disruption and killer cops? I'll admit, I got a bit testy, and I hope that Davies knows that my testiness was directed at the hackneyed question, not at him personally for asking it.
So I testily ticked off some of the arguments disproving the Spoiler Effect and offered Ranked Choice Voting or Approval Voting as a solution. Davies went with the standard That's not the system we have, and I countered with That's the system we should have if we really care about democracy. Changing our state's voting methods would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution, which must pass both houses of the Legislature and then be approved by popular vote; it's a tad more burdensome than the referendum in Maine that adopted Ranked Choice Voting statewide (and which has survived multiple legal challenges).
Part of the reason for my gratitude is that I made a boo-boo during that part of the conversation—possibly two:
As David Cobb has observed many times since 2000, the Democratic Party is where progressive ideas go to die. I observed it myself when I was a Jerry Brown delegate to a Senate District 15 convention in 1992. That's precisely the problem in the Age of Trump: Progressive Cassandras have been howling about how you have to defeat populism with populism, while the Democratic Party keeps trying to rebrand itself as a force of moderation as it embraces the Military-Industrial Complex and the Corporate State more tightly each election cycle.
Meanwhile, half the voting-age population doesn't vote, having found nothing to vote for in the major parties.
Meanwhile, disaffected Progressives are fleeing to the Greens and the Movement for a People's Party.
Meanwhile, endless wars climate change student loan debt upward redistribution of wealth drug wars cops killing POC with impunity corporate personhood et cetera ad nauseam.
Hey, I sense a theme here.
Recently, in my free moments, I have been thinking quite a bit about the necessity of political parties other than the two that have held sway for 160 years. I have been envisioning the evolution of the United States into a multi-party democracy more than usual.
Yesterday's entry featured my Twitter thread about how electing Joe Biden in 2020 practically assures a Republican victory in 2024. That's assuming he isn't replaced in the first half of his term by his running mate, who turns out to be FDR-level awesome and just what the nation needs.
The entry from the weekend before (25 July) featured a tirade against Jef Rouner's tirade against voting for third parties. Mostly I focused on the reasons many self-identified Progressives cannot in good conscience vote for Biden.
What I didn't get into very deeply is that there are some good, healthy, positive reasons for voting for non-Duopoly parties in the US. That's out subject today. Third-party voting isn't entirely a matter of casting a protest vote against both heads of the two-headed War & Wall Street Party; it's also about building a new system to replace the imperialist, corporatist system that, despite its imposing grandeur, is already crumbling around us.
Sometimes, after wading through the stories of natural and man-made disasters in remote corners of the globe, one can actually find good news in the World and Nation subsections of one's local daily newspaper. Yesterday's Houston Chronicle had a brief wire service article about the Republic of Ireland's new coalition government, in which the Green Party will be a partner. (Couldn't find the article in the Chronicle's online edition.)
It's not unadulterated good news. As too often happens when the Greens are invited into a ruling coalition, they will govern alongside two centrist to center-right parties: in this instance, the two most major of the nation's major parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
The main angle of the article is that, on Saturday, the Daíl Éireann (Irish parliament) officially elected Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to be the new Taoiseach (prime minister), succeeding Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar. But from another angle, in particular from the left, this is not only burying the lede but straight-up omitting it.
The article does not mention that, following February's Daíl (parliamentary) elections, the Green delegation jumped from three seats to twelve of the 160 total. GP will be the fourth-largest in the 33rd Daíl. Other parliaments in Europe have recently experienced a Green surge.
Apart from that, it also misses the point of why the two major parties must coalesce in the first place: Sinn Fein's leap from 22 seats to 37. Sinn Fein, a center-left party that was once the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, has more seats that Finn Gael and nearly as many as Fianna Fáil. Unlike some other parliamentary democracies in Europe, where disenchantment with mainstream parties has led to right-populist victories, the Irish electorate has veered left.
This Guardian article from two weeks ago hints that SF might end up at the head of a governing coalition for the first time in the Republic's 100-year history; the GP's acceptance of Fáil & Gael's invitation to join them thwarted that.
Also worth noting while we're here is that Ireland elects its parliament from multi-member districts of three to five seats each, with proportional representation, via a single-transferrable preferential voting system. This assures that "minor" parties are represented in the nation's law-making body. And it's not some recent innovation: It dates back to the first general election following independence from Great Britain in 1922.
If you're just tuning in, this blog has featured multiple entries centered around or casually mentioning Ranked Choice Voting and other Instant Runoff–style systems. The one in which I scolded Samantha Bee for her binary thinking is my favorite of the bunch.
Several days after Jared Golden in Maine's 2nd Congressional district became the first person to win a federal election via Ranked Choice Vote, I'm finally getting around to saying something about it directly here at dbcgreentx.net. And what I'm saying is...I'm psyched. RCV won't always produce the results we want, or even results we can tolerate, but it will reflect the will of the majority. Despite outgoing Rep. Bruce Poliquin's petulant protest (and lawsuit), RCV is also the will of the voting majority in Maine; it worked, and I'm pleased as Punch.
With apologies to a much younger Jim McIngvale for the title (and to those who could never stand his commercials), this entry in inspired by PDiddie's most recent post on an entirely different topic, in which he tangentially links to an Atlantic article about Ranked Choice Voting in Maine (to which I may have linked recently as well).
PD lives and votes in Houston's Council District K, one of the two districts birthed by the 2010 census, when Houston's population count breached two million and a provision in the city's charter kicked in. As we have discussed previously, K's thus far only council member Larry Green died suddenly last month, forcing a special election to fill his seat through 2019. Nine candidates queued up to take his place, including Martha Castex-Tatum (note: paywall), who had worked as his constituent liaison.
When a Council seat is vacated by death, retirement, term limits, or a member seeking higher office, here in Houston we just expect a whole crowd of hats in the ring. (I haven't really looked, but I'm sure it happens in other cities as well.) The more candidates, the less likely any candidate will receive a majority, and thus the more likely a runoff election will be required. This is especially true when there are two or more well-known candidates in the race.
Check it out, though: Castex-Tatum won handily. There will be no runoff this time. This is the exception to the rule.
Researching and writing this post has led to a most unfortunate flashback. It has me remembering how Samantha Bee bitched about how independent and third-party voters twice saddled the State of Maine with a governor who makes Rick Perry look smart, but then completely ignored that the people of Maine had taken the issue into their own hands.
Last November, the state of Maine instituted Ranked Choice Voting statewide by popular referendum. Despite a recent court decision, wherein the court held that the method conflicted with the state's constitution, Ranked Choice Voting is still in effect in Maine. Huzzah!
My joy in reading the Salon article linked above is matched only by my joy that Salon published such an article. The stub on WABI's website made it look as though this were a binding decision that canceled the expressed will of the people. But Paul Rosenberg informs us on Salon that there was no court case, so there was no official judicial review. How could there actually be a case anyway? RCV hasn't been used yet, so it can't have harmed anyone yet, and there can be no plaintiff. Even if you believe that RCV brazenly violates the constitution, you can't really take it to court unless you can show where on the political doll RCV hurt you.
Nevertheless, the Maine legislature is already at work on efforts to codify RCV—or to overturn it—up to and including amending the state's constitution. These efforts may produce some odd coalitions within both houses, since electoral reform is (oddly enough) not a strictly partisan issue. Even Republicans there don't want another Paul LePage elected governor, or anyone taking office with less than 40% of the vote.
Despite her habit of taking gratuitous swipes at third parties and third-party voters, I like watching Samantha Bee and her 30-minute soapbox Full Frontal. She also has a problem with independent candidates and voters. Sam Be like, "Two parties and two candidates max, dammit! Americans aren't smart enough for more than two! If Kang is demonstrably less evil and stupid than Kodos, then vote for Kang!"
This morning, reflecting on this Wednesday's broadcast, I have three wishes:
By now, Wednesday's installment of Full Frontal is already old news, but not as old as the thoroughly debunked "spoiler" argument. So I'm going to respond to the LePage segment with a bit of a spoiler here:
The end of the segment illustrates how independent candidates supposedly peeled votes away from the Democratic nominees in both 2010 and 2014, enabling LePage to be elected with less than a majority both times.
There were three such independents in 2010, the Year of the Tea Party Insurgency. One of them, Eliot Cutler, came close to winning, with Democrat Libby Mitchell polling at a dismal 19%. If anything, Mitchell spoiled the race for Cutler. Cutler tried again in 2014, but managed only 8.4%.
Sam, why do you think independents were queuing up to run for governor in 2010? Maybe because neither major party was doing jack to help the working people of Maine? Was Mitchell really the best candidate that Maine's Democratic Party could offer that year? Was Mike Michaud really the best available in 2014? Were all the independent candidates disgruntled lefties, or was at least one of them a conservative appalled at the prospect of LePage getting elected? Can you guarantee that all of Cutler's 51,518 voters have voted for Democrat Michaud in 2014, landing Michaud in the mansion instead of Governor Worldwide Embarrassment?
Also, Sam, you completely ignored Maine's Ranked Choice Voting referendum on the ballot this year, which seeks specifically to negate any "spoiler" issues. Here is the ballot language as quoted in Ballotpedia:
Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority?
My only beef with the referendum is that it does not include President and Vice President. Apart from that, it's a long overdue, people-powered solution for a state where independents and the Green Party have a strong presence. As a longtime Green, I am biased toward Instant Runoff Voting, but I will link you to arguments both in favor of the referendum and opposed to it.
The old expression "As Maine goes, so goes the nation" may not be true, but I'm hopeful that Maine will pass Ranked Choice, that it will produce a governor in 2018 more reflective of the state's population, and that other states will follow suit.
Also, agreeing with what Bee said in her first segment Wednesday night, I'm hopeful that she will be able to take a nice, long break from jokes about presidential politics after this year's bizarre-reality-TV election is finally in the can.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.