Monday, November 06, 2006

Eight Reasons the Times Is Wrong

The Times editorial page got it wrong again in its analysis of the state's third parties. Cross-endorsement is good for New York and good for democracy. Here's why:

1. Effective third parties are the most effective way to actually fix Albany. The Times editorial page (when it deigns to discuss state issues) is fixated on the need to repair the 'dysfunction' of state politics. In fact, third parties (like guess who) have been the most potent force in starting to break the logjam of dysfunctionality that the Times rails against. By cleaving the legislature's conspiracy of stasis in 2004, the WFP was responsible for both forcing an increase in the state minimum wage and the first step towards meaningful reform of the Rockefeller drug laws.

2. The power of third parties with a distinctive political perspective to cross-endorse solves the "spoiler" problem. Does the Times really prefer a Naderite universe? The ability of a third party -- conservative or progressive -- to offer a way for citizens unhappy with some aspect of the Democratic or Republican parties to still cast a meaningful vote. Voting on the Conservative line for Bush in 2004, for example, or for Kerry on the WFP line, sends politicians an important message without wasting a vote.

3. Cross-endorsing third parties are the best way to enfranchise minority views. Short of proportional representation, which the Times has not supported, cross-endorsement is the most effective mechanism within the American tradition of ensuring that minority perspectives are heard. Winner-take all elections, the American model, discourage (even silence) minority opinions. The ability of potent third parties forces major parties to consider and negotiate with groups that would otherwise be voiceless.

4. The absence of cross-endorsement cements the power of the two-party system. Given the entrenched power of the two major parties and the concentration of wealth and power supporting the status quo, it's VERY difficult for a new political party to grow without building relationships with an existing party. Cross-endorsement permits this. Prohibiting cross-endorsement virtually guarantees that the two-party status quo will never be upset.

5. The Times' argument places it on the wrong side of history (Part I). The movement to abolish political party cross-endorsements around the turn of the century comes from Wall Street special interests, terrified at the potency of the alliance between agrarian and industrial labor movements with progressive forces.

6. The Times' argument places it on the wrong side of history (Part II). The United States is virtually alone among mature democracies in the persistence of its two-party system. Nearly every advanced democracy in the world enjoys the diversity of debate among more than two major political parties. The ability to build multi-party coalitions is a key to the strength of these pluralistic systems. The prohibition on cross-endorsement (the rule in nearly every other state) has retarded the advancement of robust democracy in the U.S.

7. The Times' argument ignores the skeletal nature of the State Democratic and Republican parties. The state's most organized political party is actually the WFP -- with more staff and infrastructure than any other party in the state.

8. The biggest problem with political parties -- corruption and patronage -- is not particular to cross-endorsing third parties. Unchecked, unaccountable centers of power tend to become corrupt. Agreed. That's the story of the Liberal Party in New York. But it's also the story of the Republican Party in Nassau County, the Tweed-era Democratic Party in New York City and the Norman-era Kings County Democratic Committee. That's not a problem that's cured by eliminating cross-endorsement. In fact, third parties are one of the best mechanisms available for insurgents to reform corrupt major parties.

Agree? Send a letter to the editor of the Times by e-mailing letters@nytimes.com.

2 comments:

Rust Belt said...

...That characterization is completely false. What the Times insinuates is that third parties do nothing more than endorse candidates to secure jobs and kickbacks. The Working Families Party is different. The WFP endorses candidates who support their platform, be they Democrats, Republicans, or affiliates of other parties.

Indeed, the WFP has run its own slate of judges in Brooklyn and elected the first third party candidate to the New York City council since 1977. The Party has been instrumental in getting living wage ordinances passed around New York State and is a true voice for working New Yorkers....

You can read the rest here

Anonymous said...

It's not only the story of the Republican Party in Nassau County. Please read on... (I'm a Democrat, by the way):

As an active member of the DNC and the Working Families Party email list, and one who is as eager as any other thinking person to shift control of the House and Senate out of the hands of corrupt and inept so-called Republican leadership, I feel compelled but saddened to have to make the following statement: I believe with all possible conviction that the DNC is making an enormous mistake in endorsing Judge Joel Asarch for one of the two open seats on the New York State Supreme Court bench. Having witnessed this man at work several times over the past nearly-two years, and been subjected to Joel Asarch's mood swings, sarcasm, disrespect for others, blatant disregard for legal precedent, shameless displays of cronyism - general, unprofessional behavior, I cringe at the thought of him being given further power over the people of New York State. As there is very little information available to voters in judicial elections, the endorsement by parties is particularly influential here. It's a pipe dream, I suppose, but one would hope that the parties would interview people who have actual experience in a courtroom with a judge before endorsing a candidate.

Joel Asarch has caused irreparable physical, emotional and financial damage to my family in our mother's Guardianship case as a direct result of his lack of integrity and lack of compassion. It isn't too far a stretch to imagine that when he saw there were substantial assets belonging to my mother, who had recently been widowed and is completely incapacitated due to dementia, he saw an opportunity to exploit our family - to "share the wealth" with his friends and cronies, perhaps people he owes favors to or who might have something to offer him in exchange. We all know politics is rife with corruption. I had naively believed that the judicial system might still have good guys. Had my mother been left without a sizeable estate to support her, I have no doubt that my sister and I would be her Guardians, as we have petitioned. I am an RN, living within a ten minute drive from my mother, and my sister is a successful businesswoman. Legal precedent states that when a family member or members are willing and able to care for an incapacitated relative, the court is mandated to award guardianship to the family memeber(s). Joel Asarch has opted instead to appoint an Independent Guardian (a lawyer) and a Geriatric Care Manager to control my mother's person and possessions. They have squandered tens of thousands of dollars of my mother's money in added legal fees as well as not taking common-sense steps to protect her assets; Even more painful to my sister and I is that they failed to provide the protection my mother needed when in a dangerous situation, despite my having left several messages in their voice mail warning them of the situation. This resulted in a broken leg - the fact of which the Guardian attempted to cover up by instructing all hospital personnel that they were not to give any information to any family members regarding my mother. Imagine the frustration and heartache this has caused us. The court appointed guardian has also ignored several of the Judge Asarch's orders. This not only seemed not to bother him, but despite our protests, he decided to change her status from Temporary Guardian to Permanent Guardian.

I was obviously disappointed to see that the Working Families Party is endorsing Joel Asarch. I realize it is late in the game, but no no other recourse to try to put a stop to the corruption that Joel Asarch is party to.