An Independent Minded Lincoln Chafee

A noted scion of Rhode Island politics, Lincoln Chafee is set to announce a run for the Governorship in the Ocean State. The former United States Senator who defected from the GOP after his failed 2006 reelection bid that ended in a loss to Sheldon Whitehouse and who endorsed Barack Obama during the primaries now hopes to become Rhode Island's first governor without a major-party backing in more than 150 years. The last minor party candidate to win a state wide election in the Ocean State was Byron Diman in 1846 of the Law and Order Party, a short-lived party that developed in response to the famed Dorr Rebellion of 1841-42.

There's little doubt that Chafee is still bitter after surviving a bitter primary against conservative Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey in 2006 and less than sanguine about the GOP's electoral chances in New England. In early December after Rory Smith, the state's only Republican candidate for governor, dropped out, Chafee confided to the Providence Journal that "the big base of the party here in Rhode Island said good riddance to Chafee."

"Now they live with the results," added Chafee referring to the GOP's difficulty attracting and keeping candidates. Chafee went on to say that "the Moderate Party was formed in response to the ineffectiveness of the Republican Party. Certainly the wolves are at the door. They drove me out of the party."

The state GOP, Chafee said, is suffering from the "dark cloud" of the national party's agenda.

"The agenda that the national party is bent on pursuing, frankly, for me, is an erratic agenda," he continued. "We saw the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush years, unprecedented spending. And then their agenda on the environment -- that doesn't sell well here in Rhode Island. Using social issues to divide the people -- gay marriage and abortion -- at a time when people just want to get to work."

The outlook for the state and national party has never been this low, Chafee said.

"The years after Watergate, those were tough years. I think this is bleaker than ever."

The last governor in Rhode Island who wasn't either a Democrat or a Republican was William Hoppin, a Whig who served from 1854 to 1857. The current incumbent, Republican Donald Carcieri, is term-limited and can't run again next year.

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We Must Oppose the Healthcare Bill Compromise

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

The compromise in the House is not real Healthcare reform. Although our country desperately needs Healthcare reform just supporting any bill offered is not progress. After Corporate Democrats and Republicans have gotten a hold of the bills in the House and Senate they are so watered down that they will not be anything that will do much good.

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Political Realities: Third Parties

In the wake of the liberal outrage at Democrats, talk of a third party has popped up. Obviously most of it from Naderites and deadenders who never wanted a Democratic majority to begin with, but the talk is there.

But as much as I know some of you don't want to keep pretending to be lackeys for the Democrats...third parties would be counterproductive and would hurt progressives more than Democrats. Here's why;

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Third Party Candidates ready to cause trouble!

He's back - Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot in Alaska h-nader-on-the-presidential-ballot-in-al aska/

Thu, September 4, 2008
Posted in Alaska News

Ralph Nader will be on Alaska's November general election ballot for U.S. president. The Alaska Division of Elections has certified more than 4900 signatures of Alaska voters. Nader needed 3145 signatures. He is now on the ballot in 45 states.  The 2008 election will be the fourth time Nader has run for president as a third-party candidate.

Also, seems the repugs are trying to keep barr off the ballot in Pennsylvania. 6#comment-327953

Taken from this diary about 3rd party candidates: 6

Take a look at this link, you will see that nader and barr are both going to be causing some trouble! t.html

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What I Will Do If....

For many years I lived in Illinois, I never voted for a major party until 2004.  Illinois was never a swing state, and I was deeply committed to the necessity of introducing a third-party into our political system.  I voted for Kerry in 2004 simply to add to his popular vote margin, I knew my vote would not add anything to the electoral math, but if he lost, I at least wanted to potentially help open debate into the flaws of the electoral college system.

In 2005, I moved to Wisconsin, a major swing state.  I developed an emotional choice for a candidate very early on in the process (after Iowa and New Hampshire, when everything was wide open), and even toyed with the idea of not voting for any other candidate should they get nominated.*  I would simply go third party again.

But then I began to think a little more about why I actually cared enough to vote Democrat, in a non-swing state, in the 2004 election.  The ability of the executive branch to "guide" policy had twice affected me directly, and affected my family in even greater regard.  The Bush energy policy completely destroyed some major progress an Environmental Law firm I briefly worked for had made in combating energy pollution and encouraging green power production.  Later, as a high school teacher of 16-21 year old drop-outs, we saw our enrollment explode as "push-outs," kids with weak test scores and low reading and math levels, were bumped from the major public schools through No Child Left Behind.  In my family, I have one brother and a brother-in-law who both served two tours, one of which was through stop-loss.  Both thankfully came home to their very concerned, exhausted and rightfully anxious families.

These anecdotal experiences reminded me of how many spheres of daily life are influenced by the ability of the executive branch to "guide" policy, both internationally and in the domestically.  Here's a quick rundown of the cabinet for those needing a refresher (I sure did):

Secretary of Homeland Security
Secretary of Veteran Affairs
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Interior
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of Treasury
Secretary of State
Attorney General

These are all the spheres of daily life in which the executive branch has direct ability to re-formulate, re-interpret, and guide the path of the United States and its citizens.  This does not even include the 6,000 federal appointments a president is allowed to make before taking office and the potential 8,000 more positions which may be filled during his tenure, these include such positions as the heads of agencies, such as the FBI, CDC, and EPA.  Each of these positions have their own, distinct, powers and abilities to alter the course of policy, enforcement, standards, and daily life/existence, sometimes WITHOUT any major changes to legislation or the rules of the land.  Everything from Caribou migration maps to information on condoms has been affected by the "guidance" of the executive branch, and it is important to remember the subtle ways power is exercised even outside of the major and visible ideological battlegrounds such as the war, reproductive rights, or environment.

I have not even mentioned the more obvious powers.  The ability to choose ambassadors, judges in federal court system.  Nor have I mentioned the major role of the president in creating Foreign Policy and his sole ability to engage in ANY kind of treaty negotiation, including global commitments to energy, food, poverty, AIDS, etc.  This reflection of mine didn't even, at the time, include what I consider my larger responsibilities to my community, society, and planet.

My realization, in effect, was that my decision to vote or not vote for a particular democrat would have a ripple effect, again, throughout different and potentially unanticipated aspects of my and my family's life.  I don't necessarily like the all the platforms of any democrat, and I certainly think they are just as vulnerable to idiocy, corruption and false populism as the republicans, but I have also learned that I will likely be affected by the decisions of any president.  As much as I am loathe to be caught in the lesser-evil dichotomy which this political system has produced, it is nonetheless where I find myself.  The US system is truly a "with-us-or-against-us" system, a non-vote or third party vote is just as useful to the enemies of my principles as my voting directly for them.

Effectively, in a system I find heavily flawed, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This is as close to partisanship as I think I will even come.  I certainly don't like this circumstance, and I constantly wish our system provide for more political voice, but I also won't ignore this reality of governmentality or play into its calculations.

*Just to get speculation out of the way, I decided to support Obama, who I and my high school students had met during his 2004 Senate run against Alan Keyes, and who I have grown to respect for my own reasons over these last 5 years.  This debate which I had, mostly with my wife and in my own head, occurred in February before Super Tuesday, I simply found some parallels with much of the current rhetoric about "what I will do if..." and thought I'd rely my own experience with the same question.  Post is cross-listed on Kos.

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