Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Third Party USA: A Radically Alternative Approach to our Fake Political Gridlock


Third Party USA seeks citizens eager to create a third political party capable of breaking the undemocratic alliance between the 1% and our government.

I. Preamble

Third Party USA is a principled attempt to return American government to the citizens. Third Party supporters believe strongly that American government has fallen into the hands of a wealthy superclass that is undermining the livelihoods of the great majority of Americans. The currently massive political power of this superclass threatens the American way of life.

Third Party will work to get corporate money out of politics. Its candidates will accept no corporate campaign contributions and will work to put average citizens back in the driver's seat. Accepting no money from corporations, Third Party will not be beholden to corporations.

Third Party does not subscribe to the debunked trickle-down economic theory that continues to make the super-wealthy wealthier while citizens fall further and further behind with each passing year. Third Party believes in strong public education and infrastructure all citizens benefit from.

Third Party neither supports nor rejects abortion rights, prayer in the classroom, same-sex marriage, concealed handgun permits. Most hot button issues now part of the "culture wars" will be left to individual candidates and their constituents to decide. Third Party will prescribe no position on such issues in its platform.

It is high time in our democracy to separate the "culture wars" from the more substantive systemic problems we face. Third Party's platform will focus on 1) wresting control of policy-making from the super-wealthy, and 2) resetting government priorities to put average citizens back in first place.

Working for middle-class Americans and those below them on the social ladder, Third Party will work unashamedly against the super-wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street, who have together made a shambles of our country.

Third Party does not work for 100% of Americans, but for 99% of Americans. The 1% already have their two parties. Third Party will fight them tooth and nail.

II. How we've been divided

I am not a political scientist, expert in American history, or former congressional aide. Even so, I have a very clear vision of what is wrong in my country. Many citizens with no more political expertise than myself can also see it.

Depressed to see America sinking ever further from what it should be, I am now convinced that the only force that might break this downward momentum is a third political party: a new party that would follow the ways of neither Democrats nor Republicans.

And no, I am not proposing a Libertarian Party here. Quite otherwise.

I am proposing a party that returns to fighting for the common citizen, the American citizen that is not on a corporate board and has concerns beyond merely maximizing corporate profits for shareholders.

Many of these common citizens are Evangelical Christians, many are atheist lesbians, some are white, others are black, Latino, Amerindian or Asian. Some of these citizens believe strongly that the right to life, others are pro-choice. Some want to fight for the right of two men to marry, others to protect the constitutional right to bear arms.

That is a very diverse group indeed, isn't it? Many citizens in this list strongly believe many others are morons or have a screw loose. Yet all these citizens have two things in common: they are Americans and they are quickly losing ground in a system geared to the super-wealthy.

So where are the real morons here? In my mind the answer to this is now unavoidable: To the extent these diverse average citizens continue to let their ideological differences over sex or family or firearms keep them divided--to that extent they are all morons.

I live and work in Asia and have for some time. The country I live in has its own problems to be sure. But in recent years nothing has been more depressing for me than to see my fellow Americans back home squabbling over second-tier issues while Wall Street and the 1% continue to turn their country into a banana republic.

So I am proposing a party that works hard for these people--one that, bridging their many differences, fights for their economic and social well-being in a nation run amok. I'm proposing a party that can harness what they have in common to create a new political force.

III. Sounds impossible, right?

It will likely be very difficult. Third parties face formidable barriers to success in America. Yet I think these barriers are not insurmountable in our current dismal state. Polls show Americans have never been more convinced for the need of third party than they are now.

I have another reason for hope. It is this: My basic strategy is simple as pie. It is based on simplicity and cutting right to the heart of the problem. It is a strategy that will allow Americans to fight for their differences while also fighting for their common good.

How can it work?

It can work because Third Party as an organization will take no sides in the culture wars now being used to divide us. This neutrality is key.

Political observers have for some time noted how the 1% and their corporate allies use differences among citizens over hot button issues related to sex, gender or ethnicity as a divide-and-conquer strategy. Given that Americans debate stridently over issues like abortion or same-sex marriage, and the two parties represent different sides on these issues, citizens are easily fed the illusion that Democrats and Republicans stand for significantly different things. But they do not--especially not during the past two decades. When it comes to voting on meat-and-potatoes issues (free trade, the minimum wage, how Wall Street is regulated, how much money will go to education vs. corporate bailouts, etc.) when it comes to these economic decisions, our two parties don't show any significant disagreement. Check the record. They nearly always side with the super-wealthy against the average citizen. And so our two-party scam continues--election cycle after election cycle. Our Democrats and Republicans actually make up just one party. One party with two flavors on offer: sexual/social liberal vs. sexual/social conservative.

This is not democratic politics. This is an afternoon talk show. The wonder in my mind is that Americans are still watching. And voting for these scammers.

IV. The monkey wrench we will throw

Third Party will focus on breaking the stranglehold the super-wealthy currently have on our legislature. Meanwhile, Third Party will encourage individual candidates to develop their own positions on second-tier hot button issues. Abortion, gay rights, gun legislation--on these candidates will be instructed to follow their own conscience and the wishes of their constituents rather than any party platform. Because Third Party will have nothing in its platform relevant to these issues.

Is the the idea clear now? Is it a foolish idea? Is it really impossible to unite "red state" Americans and "blue state" Americans in a common cause--resetting our government to working for the common good rather than always for the likes of Citicorp and Monsanto?

V. How would it look on the ground?

We might envision a Third Party candidate running in a conservative red state district who wants prayer in schools, wants Wall Street carefully regulated, and fights to force the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes.

At the same time a Third Party candidate in a blue state race will be fighting to protect a woman's right to choose, fighting for green energy, and fighting to get Wall Street regulations that work while also fighting for bigger tax exemptions for the struggling middle class.

Third Party candidates will thus often vote on opposite sides of issues while also holding to core party goals: to put the citizens back in control of government; to ensure an even playing field for Americans in terms of public services, education and opportunities; to make America once again a nation centered on average working people.

VI. Of course Third Party is not for everyone

If you think the 1% should continue to run our country, then Third Party is not for you.

If you think Wall Street can manage banking laws on its own without government oversight, just keep voting Republican. Third Party is not for you.

If you really think the biggest problem in America right now is either immigrants, gays, rednecks with guns, Hollywood, or homophobia on campus--go ahead and keep voting for your party of choice, Republicrat or Demican. Third Party is not for you.

If, however, you are like me, and you see that gay marriage, gun rights or prayer in schools are all second-tier issues that have served the 1% by pitting average citizens against each other--then Third Party is for you.

If you are like me and think Wall Street executives, having gotten their massive bailouts at our expense, now mainly deserve to be jailed--then Third Party is for you.

If you understand that American democracy depends on a strong middle class and that countries completely ruled by a wealthy superclass are inherently undemocratic--then Third Party is for you.

On these various issues--gun rights, abortion, gay marriage, religious liberty in the public arena--do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting they are unimportant. What I am suggesting is that we must decouple them from the more pressing battle we now face: the battle to save American representative democracy. Look closely at what has happened in our country. We are now approaching Game Over, and the citizens have lost. Call it oligarchy, call it the Deep State, call it corporatocracy--what you will. Washington's systemic problems are no longer just chronic; they are verging on fatal.

Where corporations are said to be people and money is said to be free speech, democracy will not long survive.

VII. But how can Third Party break into the halls of power?

Third Party will depend massively on social media and the efforts of community organizers and bloggers to turn out votes for candidates. Third Party will overrun the system with HOPE. And this time the hope will be justified. Third Party candidates will depend for their campaigns on individual citizens' contributions and the contributions of non-corporate entities (small businesses, etc.). No corporate money will be accepted. Because of this general party standard, citizens will be able to count on Third Party candidates to stay the course--to stick to implementing the policies they touted on the campaign trail.

Third Party candidates' TV ads will be few, but their presence in social media and elsewhere will give them a different kind of clout. It will be the clout of tens of millions of Americans fed up with the corporate-serving political theater that our government has become.

VII. Who am I to make it happen?

The answer is: Making it happen will require input from a huge variety of people. I myself am only offering this basic charter for a new party. It is time. Placing my charter here and elsewhere online, I hope it gathers talented people who might discuss possibilities, hash out ideas and slowly create an organization. Talented people are certainly out there, whether organizers or potential candidates. As for myself, I am only capable of seeding this idea. I certainly don't have the skills to organize a party, having only limited political experience as an activist. Besides which, my career is now overseas.

But I know there are tens of millions of Americans who see America's problems pretty much as I do. There are millions who hope someone will find a route to break this current phony deadlock between our two parties, both of which largely serve the same people: those people who have bought our democracy. And they really have. They have already bought American democracy.

Americans have been fighting over hot-button issues for too long. Distracted, we have let the wealthy superclass soak us for all we're worth. But we needn't give up any of our personal convictions in order to change course. We can continue to stand strong on "culture war" issues that matter to us even as we work to right the wildly careening ship of our state. We can do it by building a Third Party.

Fighting for Third Party principles is also patriotic. Around the globe people see that America is slipping. We will continue to slip if we do not break through the smoke-and-mirrors game corporate lobbyists and Washington continue to play against us.

And so: A Third Party already!

Our current two parties well deserve it!

VIII. How to proceed

Go to Facebook to "like" and join the Third Party USA page. Individually invite your friends to join. Start sending me items to provoke discussion, and I will post them. When a certain critical mass of supportive citizens is reached, we will begin the process of initial organization. We will take things step by step--but note: We'll only be able to take things step by step if we begin with the first step and keep moving through the second and third and so on.

So keep coming back and keep thinking on how to get this initial idea off the ground; how to give it traction and bite.

As I have said, I am not a political theorist. This rough charter is my idea, yes, but I myself do not know how to move it from idea to organization. I'd be very willing to give this over to a group of political theorists or organizers, people who understand electoral politics better than myself, who can formulate strategies for the first steps. I would only request that this opening charter remain as is.

As for the name I've given this project "Third Party USA", I recognize this may not be the best name for a party. It has advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps a better name would be "Citizens Party USA". Those who work to build the party will have to choose the most effective name.

Many essentials, then, are open for discussion. I am certainly not offering myself as the leader of this initiative and will not assume a dominant role. Only the very basics of strategy (no platform positions on culture war issues; no corporate support accepted) must remain the same for this project to be what it is.

I hope soon to be able to vote Third Party USA.

Eric Mader
April 7, 2014

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