Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ellen Kennedy supports the Working Families Party

Ellen Kennedy, President of Citizen Action of New York, makes the case for voting on the Working Families Party ballot line, Row E, in today's Buffalo News:
"Minor parties can bring issues into voting booth

Every campaign season seems to end up in a war of misleading negative ads. Candidates accuse each other of raising taxes or being unpatriotic. It doesn't seem to matter whether the candidate is a Republican or a Democrat, or whether he (once in a while it's a she) is running for a local, state or federal office.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are without health insurance; school buildings are crumbling; college tuition is rising; the federal minimum wage remains at $5.15; and many full-time workers with a family cannot rise above poverty. Money is playing an increasingly important role in the political process, and there is a critical need for campaign finance reform.

What can we do to force discussion of the real issues that the vast majority of voters are concerned about? Is there any hope that political parties might stand for clear principles?

Voters are disillusioned; fewer are voting, and more are vocal about their disgust with the system. Voters are looking for alternatives to politics as usual and have shown increased interest in independent ballot lines and establishing third parties.

Some have argued that third parties are spoilers, taking away votes from a mainstream candidate. It is rare that someone is elected when running only as a minor party candidate, although it happened in a Buffalo mayoral race.

But third parties do influence major party candidates, and there are many examples of Republicans and Democrats voting to please a minor party. Nationally, we have experienced the strong influence of the Conservative Party, particularly on Republican office holders.

The Working Families Party achieved ballot status in New York State in 1998, joining the Independence and Conservative parties as a minor or third party. The Working Families Party is based on principles of social, economic, racial and environmental justice. It is a party that addresses issues from the perspective of working families and individuals, the majority of Americans.

Unlike other parties, the WFP requires candidates to complete an extensive questionnaire on issues, followed by an interview with party members. The discussions are always about issues, not patronage jobs. Candidates are endorsed based on their responses to these issues, which include living wage jobs, defending and improving workers' compensation, universal health care, campaign finance reform and corporate accountability.

A vote for a candidate on the WFP line sends the message to advocate for working men and women. And the more votes on our line, the more power we have to hold leaders accountable. If a third party provides the margin of victory in an election, the official cannot ignore its demands.

Make your vote count twice - once for the candidate and once for the issues - by pulling the lever on Row E, the Working Families Party."
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