Thursday, December 01, 2011


Rachel Maddow has been getting excited lately about the prospect of a third-party presidential campaign. Earlier this week she hosted Buddy Roemer, who declared that he'd really, really like to top the ticket of the Friedmanesque group Americans Elect. (Roemer, for what it's worth, has recently embraced both Occupy Wall Street and Joe Lieberman.) And last night Maddow interviewed Rocky Anderson, the lefty ex-mayor of Salt Lake City, who's formed a new political party, the Justice Party, and intends to run for president. (A clip of the Anderson interview is below; the Anderson part of the segment begins around 3:20.)

When Maddow asks Anderson, "What's the most salient difference between the Justice Party and Democrats and Republicans?," he said:

We will do everything we can, even if it means a constitutional amendment, to get the corrupting influence of corporate and other concentrated wealth out of politics, because Congress and the White House have been conducting themselves as if they are on retainer with Wall Street.

Admirable -- though, Rocky, I don't know how you get a constitutional amendment through the very Congress you (correctly) describe as hopelessly corrupt. (Are we looking at a constitutional convention? Do you really feel confident that you could prevent such a convention from being taken over by right-wing zealots and corpocrats?)

Anderson also talked about "international accountability" on climate change, denounced kidnappings and other unsavory practices in the war on terror, attacked out "two-tier" economy and a justice system based on wealth, decried excessive penalties for recreational drug crimes, excoriated Barack Obama and Congress for caving on telecom immunity ... bloody hell, if the Daily Kos could grow legs and obtain citizenship, it would be Rocky Anderson.

And yet the Deseret News says,

Anderson said he expects to attract disenchanted members of both parties and independents.

Oh, yeah, right -- this guy's going to draw support from a lot of Republicans.

I really like what Rocky Anderson stands for -- but I see no reason to believe his candidacy will do anything but diminish Barack Obama's vote total and throw the election to Gingrich or Romney. (Please, spare me the comments about how I'm incorrectly assuming Obama has lefty votes by right. I know the whole spiel -- I could write the comment for you. I'm just arguing that if you go this route, if you respond to the awfulness of Democrats by ignoring the unspeakableness of Republicans, you're seeking to repeat 2000. Nor do I need to hear the other spiel about how Gore didn't really lose and Nader voters weren't to blame because it was all the Supreme Court's fault. That election shouldn't have even been close.)

I should say, however, that I won't be as upset about the Anderson candidacy if what I think may happen happens -- namely, a four- or even five-way race. I think Anderson (or some lefty) will get enough support and media attention to get Nader-in-2000 numbers in many states -- but I think the Americans Elect folks will field a ticket from the center (and, given their money and the likely swooning of centrist pundits, the ticket will get a lot of attention). I don't believe the scuttlebutt that Jon Huntsman may be the AE presidential candidate -- he seems like a jilted lover who can't endure the notion that the GOP won't sleep with him anymore, so I don't think he'll ever stop carrying the torch and move on with his life. (And the fantasy of a Huntsman/Hillary Clinton ticket is just delusional -- Hillary is a genuinely loyal Dem.)

But those guys will get someone paired up with Evan Bayh. After that, my guess is that the GOP noise machine will turn whoever it is, in the public's eyes, into a big, flaming liberal, and the candidate will draw exclusively Democrat and moderate-indy votes.

On the other hand, I think the GOP has to worry about a challenge from the right if Romney's the nominee. I don't mean from a marquee name like Sarah Palin -- I mean from one of the teensy parties that run an invisible candidate every four years. This time around, the rubes really might go for an underfunded crackpot zealot, especially one who says "Constitution" a lot and rants about the War on Christianity and the North American Union and about how the UN is taking away our gun freedoms. (That pretty much applies to all the minor-party candidates on the right, doesn't it?) Or maybe Gary Johnson or Jesse Ventura will run Libertarian -- this year, a run like that could draw all kinds of support, from dopers, youthful Paulbots and aging wingers. So, maybe my advice should be: vote Anderson if you want, because this thing is going to be a free-for-all. (Though if the GOP nominates anyone but Romney, the wingers will probably be united, so maybe it's suicidal for us to be divided.)

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(Cross-posted at Booman Tribune.)


Betty Cracker said...

I really can't see this moving into Nadereque territory unless the 3rd party can bag a big-name candidate. Nader had a well-respected brand to squander. For all their merits, these other guys are non-entities on the national stage.

As you noted, the people who think Hillary Clinton will do something this suicidal are delusional, but apparently nothing Madam Secretary can say will disabuse them of that notion. Aside from HRC, I can't think of anyone else with the name recognition and political heft -- and self-destructive tendencies -- necessary to throw the election to the GOP.

Ten Bears said...

I didn't find him to be very articulate (in Rachel's interview), but the thought did occur to me that some form of Anderson/Huntsman ticket would throw a big set of shoes into the machinery. While I'm not a big fan of Obama, I do think the best course forward is his re-election. As your headline suggests, this is really just another Nader "split the vote" moment. Apparently the Republics agree.

As a shameless aside, I note you've been invited to post over at the BooMan's place. Coincidentally, yesterday I was invited to post over at Bob Morris' place - Politics in Zeros. Anyone who is interested can, of course, visit my place - Homeless on the High Desert (dot wordpress) - and thanks for blogrolling me. Now that i have (relatively) recovered from the insanity of divorce, reluctant retirement and subsequent "homelessness", I have reciprocated.

c u n d gulag said...

Beware of Anderson's in elections with incumbent Democrats:

He got 7% of the vote in 1980.

Little old Liberal me, voting in my 2nd Presidential election, almost voted for him. I walked into the booth fully expecting to cast a vote for John Anderson. Then, I saw "Reagan/Bush," and instinctively pulled the lever for "Carter/Mondale" without a 2nd thought.
Unfortunately, not everyone had the sense that I had. Ok, maybe not 'sense,' rather fear, but still...

c u n d gulag said...

Ten Bears,

BH said...

Any time some lefty starts talking about amending the Constitution, my ears go on strike. The practical difficulties of doing so without ending up with a Grover Norquist revision just don't seem to faze them.

Even if it turns into a 4-way/5-way race, I'd call it suicidal to vote other than Dem, certainly in any state with the slightest chance of going blue. It always seems most sensible to me to assume the worst in terms of the opposition's strength, and to act accordingly.

Swellsman said...

"if you respond to the awfulness of Democrats by ignoring the unspeakableness of Republicans . . . "

Great line.

BH said...

c u n d, in an idle moment I checked Rocky Anderson's Wikipedia entry. Sez there that he consulted with John Anderson (yep, that one) before deciding on this Justice Party fling. Your comparison is even more apt than on 1st glance, it seems.