Among the big lies in politics is that every vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. That is an appeal to ignore third party candidates.
But historically, third party candidates have often generated thoughtful ideas that were finally accepted by the major party. Here are a number of third party ideas over the history of the country:
- Free Soil Party/ Abolitionists: End of slavery.
- Socialist Party: Curb child labor; graduated income tax, universal suffrage, direct election of US Senators, unemployment insurance, pensions, workers comp.
- Bull Moose Party: Primaries have a greater influence on national political conventions, Presidents go out and stump for votes.
- John Anderson: Fiscal conservatism and social issue liberalism.
- Reform Party (Ross Perot): Balanced federal budgets.
- Prohibition Party/ Temperance Union: The 18th Amendment (Prohibition)
- Libertarian Party: End criminal prosecution/ regulation of drugs.
The Illinois Fifth Congressional District is blessed with a thoughtful Green Party candidate in this cycle. Nancy Wade, who sat down early in August to talk to The Bulldog, is a long-term activist, Wade has been active in Moveon.Org. Her decision to join the race was due to a simple issue with Congressman Mike Quigley: he refused to accept a citizen protest, demanding it stop before listening to the protesters demands.
Wade met with The Bulldog at a neighborhood restaurant. She never named Mike Quigley by name and did not disparage the incumbent or her Republican opponent, though she dismissed Dan Schmitt’s energy plan as being the result of a lack of basic science education.
Her speech is proper and lacks contractions as you might expect from a teacher, which she is.
She sat for an hour, her hands folded in front of her, calmly proposing that a progressive agenda was what was needed for the district and for the nation.
Why Does Nancy Run?
“During the so-called debt ceiling crisis we were asking for jobs, not cuts,” Wade said about her decision to run. “A colleague of the incumbent, a member of the Progressive Caucus, proposed a program to create jobs.”
Wade says she supported a jobs proposal which would be aimed at rebuilding public infrastructure such as parks, facilities for senior citizens and youth. The proposal would have been paid for with an increase in taxes for the wealthiest Americans. It would be a modern WPA, employing corps of youths and senior citizens.
Among the supporters of a similar plan was Jan Schakowski, the Evanston Congresswoman.
The effort, Wade says, would have led to the creation of about 2.2 million jobs.
“We were lobbying the incumbent to cosponsor Schakowski’s plan,” Wade said. Wade says the group wasn’t having any luck. “We asked for an appointment and presented a petition,” she said. But “we weren’t having success getting his (Quigley’s) attention.”
So the group decided to picket Quigley’s office.
“His response was, ’30 days after you stop picketing my office, I’ll talk to you.’”
The message was that Quigley would start paying attention to his constituents when they stopped trying to get his attention through the protests
Wade says she realized that she was up against major campaign contributors.
“So I decided to be the change I wanted to be in the world,” she says.
“Their ideas are bankrupt along with our economy,” she said.
Wade blames acceptance of ideas such as ‘corporations are people’ with gutting the social contract. Among her issues is a constitutional amendment that would address the Citizens United decision.
Deficits, Jobs and Money
“I’m not saying the deficit is not the problem,” Wade said, “but there are two ways to address the problem.”
Wade says the two ways are to grow jobs and to grow tax revenues.
The deficit she said was estimated to be about $15 trillion. She estimated that closing off-shore tax havens would generate about $15-30 trillion. “Repatriating that money would take care of the deficit,” she said.
Wade also proposed a financial transaction tax on speculative trading. She said Wall Street has been gambling on the economy, a situation that puts the economy at risk and a situation she says was a factor leading to the economic meltdown in 2007-8.
On her website, Wade calls for a return of the Glass-Steagall Act. The Depression-era act, which was repealed in 1999, was enacted to end speculative investments by banks that many economists blamed for the Depression.
Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Stiglitz and others have blamed the current economic crisis on the repeal of Glass-Steagall. They say banks, which are among the few institutions able to create money, should not be allowed to engage in speculative investments that threaten the money supply. A contraction of the money supply is being blamed for the economic crisis.
“Jobs creation can’t come from austerity,” Wade said. “We can have green, sustainable jobs by having the one percent pay their fair share.
Our economy is in its current situation because the middle class is paying an unfair share of what is needed to run this economy, Wade says. “The middle class is paying for corporate welfare,” she says.
Wade supported passage of the Affordable Care Act.
“The US is the only advanced country that does not provide (Medicare, a basic human right,) to its citizens,” her website says.
But Wade is critical of the events leading to passage of the ACA.
“My Moveon group had been lobbying the incumbent,” she notes. “We called the incumbent who was asked for his position (on the ACA). The reply, up to the day of voting, was that he was studying it.”
The “one thing we could do to improve the quality of life in this country right now would be universal healthcare,” Wade said.
In her campaign blog Wade says “ACA resulted from a failure by President Obama and the Democrats to come out swinging on universal healthcare.
“What we need is true healthcare reform that eliminates the middleman– insurance companies whose only function is to make a profit,” her blog notes (emphasis from blog).
“ACA will stop many of the most egregious abuses of the insurance industry, such as denying coverage to those who have so-called ‘pre-existing conditions’. However, it will not bring universal, reliable healthcare to everyone in this country, as people in every other developed country enjoy. It will continue to leave millions of Americans without healthcare coverage. It will not remove the single largest expense there is in delivering healthcare in this country; the insurance companies.”
Wade says removing the profit motive from healthcare would reduce healthcare costs by 40 percent.
Wade says the greatest challenge facing the country is climate change. “We must have a master plan of defense against climate change,” she told The Bulldog.
“The Green Party platform comprehensively addresses ecological sustainability and climate change,” her blog states.
She quotes from the Green Party platform: “It is a tragedy unfolding in slow motion.”
“Every decision we make must take into account the impact human activities have on the planet on which we and every other living being depend,” her site says.
Wade calls for an end to fossil fuel industry subsidies, development of alternative fuels and the conservation of energy.
Wade noted the plan of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to insulate older Chicago homes as a positive approach that puts tax dollars into private infrastructure and cuts our use of energy. Wade estimated that heating and cooling were responsible for about 40 percent of the energy use of a typical family.
Regarding Republican opponent Dan Schmitt’s assertion that the planet was producing new oil, suggesting that further fossil fuel development and drilling would answer domestic energy needs into the future, Wade gave her only sharp attack on an opponent. “This is an example of why we need better science education in our schools,” she said, refusing to elaborate further on Schmitt’s proposal.
“We are the greatest user of carbon fuel in the world,” she said. “We should be a leader in defending the climate by significantly reducing carbon based fossil fuels foot print.”
Wade said that retrofitting cities to reduce energy would create green jobs and save energy too.
“People have said they want real change. People have said they want leadership. That’s what I represent,” Wade said.
“Leaders must champion ideas and solutions that will make positive changes,” she said. “I’m a progressive champion.”