This article was written in response to an article written by Albert Hunt on third party politics in the Bloomberg News and later published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
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Albert Hunt’s article Throw The Bums Out(August 3rd 2011) was
predicated on a false perception and premise. We can start with
his quoting conservative Thomas Friedman for the creating of a
“radical center.” The problem with this thesis is easy to expose
and repudiate. For a true “radical center” to emerge, it would
need to be to the left of both the virtually all Republicans and
Democrats. The swing to the far right is initiated and pushed
by the extreme Republicans and quickly followed by the Democrats.
That is the political reality today, for anyone who is willing
to be honest. It is the chase for corporate dollars to fund
campaigns that drives this rightward trend. This fact is well
known by the Minnesota and American electorate.
If this is the case, then depending on a political system that
is awash in corporate cash is not an effective way to change
this reality. This can be shown no clearer than the election
campaign and now administration of president Obama. It can be
easily argued that the Obama campaign was the very best advertising
that Madison Ave has ever done. At the behest of the corporate
powers that purchased the political status quo of today.
Mr Hunt’s article is false on another level. That is what
third parties can achieve. Minnesota has a long and proud history
of third party participation and success in our government.
Governor Jessie Ventura may have been a one off, lone Governor
who was hobbled by both Democrats and Republicans sabotaging
his Governorship but that was not always the case. Floyd B Olson
was the Governor of Minnesota and a Socialist member of the
Farmer-Labor Party. With him was a majority of the Minnesota House
and many in the Senate. To this day Minnesota enjoys a better
standard of living and services than most Americans because of
But what of the national level? It could be said that there has
been no “successes” on the national level, right? Well actually
that is also not the case. In fact one of our most famous presidents
was the results of principled third party politics.
In the mid 1800’s the United States had two parties, much like
today. They were the Democrats and the Whigs. Then, due to pressure
from the Abolitionist of Slavery Movement, there emerged a new political
party. That party was of course the Republicans. Abraham Lincoln ran
as president and the rest is history. At this point it must be noted
that the Republican Party of today is a far, far cry from it’s noble
However, the successes and influences of third party politics go
much deeper than even the apparent cosmetic victories of winning
elections. It can easily be argued that we can thank so much of our
freedoms and rights, in part to the pressures applied by people
willing to take principled stands in the third party arena. From
women’s right to vote, people of color earning their right to vote,
Social Security, ending the Vietnam War. All of these victories and
more were earned, in part by a determined and principled section
of the population willing to challenge and threaten the status quo.
There in lies the true purpose, strategy and vision of so called
third party politics. To give voice to the voiceless and to those
of us growing section of the people in this country shut out of
the political process. The election of Governor Jessie Ventura
showed how this happened and can happen again. It is true that
the Republican Party establishment are willing to engage in voter
suppression for mainly African Americans and poor people. By the
same token, the Democratic Party establishment have also been
willing to engage in voter suppression of those to the left of
their own far right policies.
But to both these parties, be aware. We are here and we are
organizing. We may not have the money or the clout that you do. We
may not have access to your golden microphone and propaganda outlets
but we are organizing and building, none the less.
Michael Cavlan was the Minnesota Green Party endorsed candidate
for US Senate 2006. He recently announced his candidacy to run
for the US Senate in the 2012 race, under the Minnesota Open Progressive