The People’s Coalition
A house divided cannot stand. And yet that is where Progressives, Independents, Greens, and other third parties find themselves, despite having so very much in common politically. Every time third parties try to organize, we only create one more party, among the plethora of third parties. The formation of new parties is clearly not working. We split our power so that the majority of the electorate comes to nought. In this we become disillusioned and our low voter turnout is the only form of political power we have, albeit, a negative form in our absence at the polls. We are a fragmented movement. This is, and has always been, to the advantage of the two major parties. These two parties continue their dangerous drift to the right without any concern that something might blossom in the power vacuum that remains. This situation tends toward lesser-of-two-evil jargon, leads inevitably to the illusion of choice, and brings out the baser side of all involved, at the expense of the American citizen and the real issues and problems we all face.
The People’s Coalition
The writing is on the wall. In singleness of purpose, we are not the mere sum of our parts. Our voice is our power, and it grows by organization. If we stand together, our power is multiplied, our voices are louder, our solutions are wiser. The time has come to form a coalition, The People’s Coalition, what the Rev. Jesse Jackson and later Senator Bernie Sanders would refer to as a rainbow coalition.
That Which Unites Us
What follows then are suggestive structures that, in this writer’s opinion, are essential to a successful coalition of third parties. Before outlining these, it should be made clear that we can have unity without uniformity. We need not look alike, live alike, or believe alike to unite as one in our various problems. We are our brother’s and our sister’s keeper, and it is in the extension of the terms, brother and sister, to apply to every human being that we find real allies and in which we fight against oppression and disenfranchisement everywhere it is found. It is a shallow kind of morality, in fact the basest kind, which requires homogeneity to have ethnic, political or religious peace. Believing that we are virtuous enough to find alliances within, and at times despite, our diversity, the following coalition structure is outlined:
I. The Coalition Platform
The participating parties of the Coalition must first assemble and create a common platform of political values that seem both vital and immediate in their impact on our lives. A value based platform allows from a strong statement on issues, makes political decisions a moral issue, and unites people in ends, if not in means. We must avoid lofty moralizing and empty platitudes and instead create a platform that defines discrete values that go to the heart of the issues, that are at once strong, moral and yet broad enough to be adaptable according to individual parties. This is not a watering down of all parties with a resulting loss of party identity. This is the creation of the hub of a great wheel. The Coalition is not a party. It is this Platform that the parties create.
II. Coalition Candidate Vetting
Having created the Coalition Platform, no small task, we can begin in earnest to work in unison, as a large and diverse bloc of voters. The Coalition must provide a web based resource for vetting of Coalition party candidates. Having a Coalition Platform that is clear and value based gives us the ability to quickly describe in short order where a candidate in any given party of the Coalition stands on, say, the ten key issues of the Coalition Platform. The result is that we increase our ability to vote as a bloc. As individual voters, we will still vote as we choose, but by voting over party lines where possible, we are collectively voting for the Coalition Platform. This is no small achievement. Pause to consider it.
III. Coalition Clearinghouse
In addition to vetting candidates from all member parties consistently and concisely, and in all levels of government, the Coalition must provide information on propositions, laws and regulations that are being proposed at all levels of government, as they relate, and only as they relate, to the Coalition Platform. If a proposition in California or a law in Congress touches upon, hinders or forwards the Coalition Platform, those with a vote need to know of it. Protests, rallies, town hall meetings, marches, inquiries and hearings must, to the best of the Coalition’s ability be available should they touch upon the Coalition Platform. This is technically possible via zip code.
Strictly Platform Based
Parties are going to disagree on various issues. Candidates within parties may disagree on issues. Two candidates may, for instance, have different stances on student debt and how to solve this problem. However, if it is not an issue of the Coalition Platform, the Coalition has no basis for acting, has no ground for vetting candidates. This allows an added measure of diversity of thought, opinion, and solutions to reign, and allows both parties and candidates to diversify, angle themselves and appeal to the varied needs and hopes of voters. But in the Coalition Platform, we vote as a block. There is risk that should the Coalition stray from its exclusive focus on the Platform, it might end in bias for or against a given party. There is also risk that the Coalition will become watered down and lose sight of those things all member parties collectively deem crucial. Stay the course.
Coalition As Potential Mediator
When two candidates from different parties within the Coalition run for the same office, the Coalition could potentially act as the host of a debate (or several) between these two, previous to the actual election. The loser of the debate(s) and intermediary election would agree to drop out in support of the other candidate. Voting methods would have to be worked out, but this would serve as a way to avoid splitting the vote over against candidates outside the Coalition. This would have several other positive consequences to both parties as well as the Coalition.
Member organizations need not be political parties. They can be politically oriented organizations, but in all cases must be politically oriented in purpose, and abide by the Coalition. By joining the coalition, they are gaining a voice in the chorus, and have the right and duty to affect the Coalition Platform to an extent. Those parties that field candidates should have the greater say.
It is easier for 10 parties to gain ballot access for one candidate, than for 10 parties to gain ballot access for 10 candidates. The Coalition must act as the coordinating body of the respective member parties. The Coalition acts to coordinate resources for gaining ballot access, increasing the number of signatures needed for a given petition, etc.
The portrait that is being painted here is one of incentive. The People’s Coalition proposes to federate the third parties. As the Coalition gains in strength, credibility, legitimacy, more third parties will wish to join. It will be beneficial to do so. The goal is a diverse body of member parties, working together on agreed upon core issues, adding voice where there once was none. In attempting to create lift, the People’s Coalition is applying added pressure with increased numbers, and in organization, is moving the fulcrum to increase leverage.
If we unite, we win.